Saturday, June 10, 2017

DK My Way:Tall Boy In Americus

I passed this strange looking remnant. Looked like a fire place, but I'm not sure.
Once I had assured myself that I had lost the unwelcome stranger, I turned my sights to going toward Americus. At this point, I had pretty much ascertained that I would hit 100 miles before I got back to the university in Emporia. All I had to do was to pedal the last 25 miles or so and I'd be home free. The last goal I had was to hit Americus and have a beer in the same spot I had the year before. It sounded like a piece of cake, but I didn't know that there was going to be even more drama and adventure in the last leg.

The stranger back in Council Grove said I wouldn't find much for gravel "out that way", but I certainly did. Actually, it was some of the best I had ridden all day long. There were some tough climbs, amazing views, and a minimum maintenance road that proved to be a challenge that even the DK200 riders didn't have this year.

You might notice through all of these "DK My Way" posts that I haven't mentioned much about the weather. That is because it had been a non-factor. Just when it felt like it was about to get hot, the clouds would thicken. Just when the breezes became a headwind to contend with, the wind would suddenly die down. It was uncanny. It probably was, and will forever be, the best weather I will experience riding in the Flint Hills.

Typical Flint Hills view from a hill top. This was shortly before getting to Americus.
Most structures in the Flint Hills are not made from wood, which makes the area have a very different feel from that of Iowa.
Once I came out of the higher ranch country and closer to Americus, the land got flatter. It was here that I passed the small burgh of Dunlap and carried on South and East toward my destination with Americus. On my way I came across a fairly long stretch of MMR that ended up becoming quite a trial.

The last MMR of the day started out fast and dry.
Then it got worse!
Muddy roads in Kansas mean the same thing that they do in Iowa: Hike-a-bike time!  You just do not ride into that wet dirt and mud unless you are ready to shear off a derailleur and make your bike weigh twice as much with the packed in mud you accumulate. I hiked around the first mud hole, then another. Finally, I came across a stretch of road that was sticky and led down to a low water crossing that was dry. However, the dirt leading to the approaches was total muck and mire.

I tried not to get my Terrene Honali tires too muddy, but even judicious test rolling to see how the dirt/mud mixture might be like caused a lot of mud to pack up on the tires. I didn't press the issue, but a clean up would be required once I knew I had cleared the mud and wet dirt. Fortunately, my good friend Mike Johnson had supplied me with his homemade mud scraper tool which worked really well.

This special mud scraper is made from a BBQ skewer! 
Another cemetery. This one is straight West of Americus, Kansas.
As I scraped the mud from the tires, it started to rain! It was still pretty Sunny, and the clouds didn't seem heavy, but it was coming down hard enough that I could see a grey haze up the road. I had another half mile of dirt to cover before I got to gravel, so I skipped working on my shoes and pedaled like mad in case the dirt got sticky and I would have to dismount and walk.

No need to worry too much, and of course, it stopped raining the moment I reached the gravel again. Wouldn't ya know?! So, that was fun and made for a different experience than I had been expecting. Now it was just time to grind out several flat miles to Americus and then have a beer.

Beer time in Americus
I reached the sullen, semi-deserted town with a run down Casey's convenience store. Inside I found a small, limited selection of beer. Uggh..... I realized I am pretty spoiled when it comes to beer these days. Well, a tallboy can of Bud "heavy" would have to suffice. It could be worse.....

Not many moments after I took the image of my beer I was reminded of how fortunate I had been. I received the following text at 3:44pm.

"I'm down town at the finish line."

I thought that was a curious place for Tony to be, but I had lost all sense of time as I traveled. Had I noted the time of day, I would have realized that there was no way on Earth that Tony would have finished at that time of day. Not 200 miles. I answered with the following.....

"Okay, I am in Americus. I've got about 7.5 miles to go. Having a Bud heavy at Casey's"

So, Tony fired back that his bike was trashed and his helmet was toast. It was only then that I realized something was amiss. I then snapped to. Oh no! Was Tony wandering around with a concussion? How badly was he hurt? Now I was worried and wanted to get back to town, clean up, and find him. All I could think of was that Tony was wandering around aimlessly and no one was looking after him.

The total for the day.
So, I pressed onward toward Emporia on mostly flat gravel. There were a lot of cars going to and fro. Many with out of state plates. I assumed that perhaps these were support folks looking out for their riders coming in. Hard to say, but there wasn't any other reason for all those cars going outbound, and the course came in just to the East of town, not far from where I was.

Just about 200 yards before I hit the first pavement coming back to town my computer ticked over to 100 miles. I was happy, but no time to celebrate. I headed back through town from the West on 15th and then on to Emporia State's campus and to the residence halls. The ride was over. A quick image of the computer and then I was off to get a shower and go find Tony.

I went down town and found Tony and he was banged up for sure, but he was definitely okay. We ate some food and then hung out until about 11:30pm to greet finishers and chat with those who we knew down there. Then we cashed it in for the night to get up the next day early for the awards ceremonies.

I'll do a postscript on the ride, but at the end of the day, I was tired, ready to get off the bike, but I was super happy with my century. I felt great for the most part, I had a lot of fun, and I met all my goals. The weather was perfect. I kind of wish it hadn't been then I would have had a bit harder test. But as it stood, I had nothing to be upset about.

Next: Gear And Comments

1 comment:

Robert Ellis said...

Nice seeing you there at the finish. There are times when there really isn't much better in life than an ice cold Bud tall boy!