Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Touring Series: Superheated

A Guitar Ted Productions Series
 Thanks for joining me again on another adventure in "The Touring Series". This tour was dubbed the "Race Against Death Tour". This tour occurred in August of 1995. The three participants, Ryan, Troy, and your's truly, left from Cedar Falls, Iowa to try and get to Winter Park, Colorado in two weeks. Here I am reproducing the tale as it was posted on the blog in 2009. I also will add new remarks and memories where appropriate at the end of each post. 

 Once again, there were no cell phones, internet, social media platforms, or digital cameras in use by we tourers in 1995. I will post images where I can, but this tour wasn't well documented in images, so there probably will be very few sprinkled throughout. A modern image will be used only where it depicts things I want to clarify, like where we were in that part of the tour via a map image, or the like.

The "Touring Series" will appear every Sunday until it ends. Look for past entries by scrolling back to a previous Sunday's post, or type in "Touring Series" in the search box to find more. 

The "Race Against Death Tour" leaves the small town of Nemeha, Iowa headed westward on a hot August day........

As we left in the early afternoon, the heat started to really kick in. The temperatures were heading into triple digit territory and in a big hurry. As we went further west, conversation ceased and all three of us plodded along at a decent clip, but certainly no where near our fastest cruising speed. The road headed dead straight now. No turns, and not much to look at.

As I was rolling along it became very apparent that there were super heated pockets of air that you would run into coming up off of the now melting black top road. Suddenly running into these would raise the temperature 10 to 15 degrees from where they already were. We are talking dangerous heat. And it finally did me in. About 16 miles after leaving Nemeha, and just north of Galva, Iowa, I called out that I was stopping. I ghost rode my bike into the ditch and collapsed into darkness.

The next thing I recall is Troy yelling out my name from far away. Then he became clearer. Then I came to. I realized then he was standing right over me, and I was surrounded by tall grass. I sat up as Troy returned to his shaded seat next to Ryan and they were quietly discussing something. What to do about me, no doubt. I was severely dizzy and my head ached, really hurt! All through that though, I was intensely embarrassed about the situation. I resolved to get on the bike again, but I was very wobbly and really slow.

Later I learned that I was completely out for 20 minutes. Troy and Ryan were beside themselves wondering if they should call for emergency help and leave me behind. Troy yelling at me was a last ditch attempt to get me going before they called in for help, but I didn't know any of that then. I just hurt. Bad.
Map showing Correctionville and Little Sioux Park where we overnighted

We limped into Galva, and then just west of there into Holstein. There was a pizza joint we stopped at that Troy and Ryan ate at. I had zero appetite. I was just glad to be in some A/C and not move. We passed a bank with a thermometer sign that read 101 the shade.

Troy wanted to make the border, but as we went along, it became apparent I couldn't do much more than 10 mph and almost had to crawl up the long, grinding grades that were the outliers of the Loess Hills. There was a stop in Correctionville late in the afternoon. We sat a long time outside a convenience store as Troy and Ryan did some asking around about a place to stay. I finally got some food and drink down in me here as we waited. The sun was westering, and we needed a place to stay.

Much to Troy's chagrin the only good option was off route a couple miles in a county park. We rolled in, and I ate another meal, finally starting to feel better, much to the other guys relief. We sat around and conversed for awhile, told some stories, and generally joked around. Things seemed okay, but inside I was feeling terrible about letting the guys down and being a nuisance. At any rate, I learned that my front panniers were no longer my concern, as Troy took one and Ryan the other. They insisted I was going to make it. I thought of it as a demotion at the time, but in reality, I should have seen it as a positive sign. Ah.....the way time changes your perspective on things!

All I knew then was that I felt terrible, physically, but far worse mentally. I hit the hay hoping the next day would be much better.

Yeah, the "Race Against Death Tour" almost lost. That was a bad, bad deal. Of course, back in 1995, you had no options for immediate, quick advice or help. This is important to understand today. There was no cell phone to whip out and look up what to do in case of heat exhaustion. Then Troy and Ryan were left to their own wits, wisdom, or no. Making decisions back then, like they had to in an emergency situation, was not easy. I am very sorry to this day that I put them in such a situation.

My memories of that day are foggy, of course. I do remember clearly thinking I had to stop, and then Troy yelling at me. I remember sitting on a street side bench, in the pizza parlor, and seeing that bank sign. I remember having zero power in some hilly terrain and Troy's annoyed reactions to my lack of speed. Still, we made 83 miles that day. Amazing despite all the odds against us.

The campground was another world. I was so much better by that point, but I also remember we sat in Correctionville for at least an hour, maybe longer. I also believe I ate something there. That would explain a lot. At any rate, that was a touch and go situation, and the tour nearly was derailed at that point. I've no idea, but I imagine that talk between Troy and Ryan was whether they should stop the entire tour, leave me and continue, or wait it out. In the end, they waited it out, and I am forever grateful that they did.

Next Week: Over The Border


teamdarb said...

Just wanted to chime in to let you know these are being read. -Wilson

blooddoc23 said...

Read and enjoyed! Heat exhaustion is a bad thing!

Guitar Ted said...

@teamdarb @Robert Ellis- Thanks for letting me know these posts are interesting to you.