Sweat and Sunscreen

13 07 2010

Elaine, Alex, and Barb saying a last goodbye


Getting up at 8:00 was a struggle since we were up into the hours of the morning catching up on the last blog.  We had to get up because we still had a lot to do before we were able to drive back down to Pueblo and start biking again.  The first thing we had to do was an interview with a reporter from the Saratoga Spotlight.  Then, we had another amazing breakfast prepared by Alex’s Aunts before organizing the van.  Finally, around noon, we were in the car all ready to head back down to Pueblo.  On the way through we took a quick pit stop in Denver to see where Brittany used to live.  It was a gorgeous home which makes us question why they moved, however, Colin is happy they did!  Then by 3:00 we were back biking.  It felt weird for all of us, as if we hadn’t biked in a long time. 

We made it all the way to Sugar City, ending at about 8:00pm.  One thing that we love about Kansas is that we are able to camp in City Parks, free of charge!  Sugar City was our first experience doing this.  We were unsure if the park we were in was the right one, however, the locals reassured us that it wouldn’t be a problem as cops rarely make an appearance.  So, we set up our tents alongside the basketball court and made dinner while the bugs ate us a live.  While cooking we talked with two fellow cyclists Eric and Josh, who are both flying solo.  We all enjoyed talking, but getting into the tents never felt better, as we were able to get away from the bugs for the night. 

Mileage: 105 miles
Average:  15.1 

We had begun today’s ride in the small town of Sugar City.  We had decided the previous day it was time that we completed a century ride.  It would be our first century ride and at the end we would be done with another state and onto our next, Kansas!  With all of that in mind we were fairly excited to begin our journey.  (Had we known what the day would bring, we may have just wanted to take a sick day…)  While we were still in Colorado you would not have guessed from looking at the scenery.  The first 30 miles weren’t too bad and it wasn’t until the wind decided to pick up and give us a challenge that we decided we may not enjoy the upcoming state…

It was right before our halfway mark when things started to go downhill.  The three of us were biking together and things seemed to be going fine.  Unfortunately for us accidents seem to follow Alex as his front tire caught on Joe’s back and before we knew it Alex was on the ground once more.  Fortunately for us though, this time he was able to get up and keep riding.  He had a couple of new wounds and opened up some old ones, but nothing in comparison to the unnecessarily gross bruises from before.  Even though we should have perhaps seen this incident as a warning, we kept biking.

The wind seemed to have a vendetta against those trying to bike east as it pushed directly against us for the last 50 miles.  Whoever told us that we would have the wind at our backs going west to east should tell that to Mother Nature.  She may have forgotten.  

This is where the rest of the day just begins to go downhill:  While it was not terribly hot it was no picnic either.  We had agreed to meet Brittany 20 miles from the border.  It was maybe 10 or 15 miles from this meeting point when Joe began to experience muscle spasms in his calves.  We took a few more breaks and slowed down the pace, but still made it to Brittany.  Now, to make the situation better he was fairly dehydrated and upon realizing it continued to drink as much water as he could.  It was also when they stopped that it may have been evident that he had more salt on his body than either Alex or Colin had.  Without thinking anything of it, we all continued to bike towards our goal.  The muscle spasms continued and as we continued it seemed a storm was trying to make ground on us.  We eventually made it to Kansas, our finish line.

We soon arrived at a park near a pool where we set up our tents.  Now, soon after stopping, Joe had begun to feel really tired and dizzy.  He sat down in the grass and ate a few crackers.  Within 10 minutes of eating them his body decided to reject the food and he threw up.  The fun continued when he began to experience muscle spasms in other parts of his body.  We called Mrs. Utz-Meagher to see if she would be able to help us in this situation.  Apparently drinking lots of water when your body loses a lot of salt is not always the best solution.  Joe had, in a way, flushed his body of electrolytes and probably drank too much water.  Therefore, as night fell upon us he sipped on Gatorade.  We had hoped that we had the solution but it was after he tried to eat something that he became sick again…several times.  He decided to try and sleep as he was exhausted and he couldn’t do anything else… 

Mileage:  59
Average:  16 

He awoke first in the morning and as he had no food in his system decided to try and remedy the problem.  He ate 2 crackers with some Gatorade but unfortunately his body still did not want anything to do with it.  It was evident now that we had to take him to get help.  We were able to find a clinic fairly quickly, and he was soon inside seeing a doctor.  After being nauseous in front of the doctor he was administered a shot to remedy that problem.  They drew blood and the results showed that the area of concern was that his Sodium levels were 6 units below the healthy range.  (We aren’t doctors but I think we may have been able to tell you something similar without blood work, but alas, it is protocol after all.)  Now the shot he received for nausea came with the side effect of drowsiness, which seemed to put him into a coma as he almost fell asleep in the doctor’s office.

He spent the rest of the day with his eyes closed while his friends tried their best to make him drink Gatorade, doctors orders.  In his defense the combination of little sleep and a shot that makes you drowsy makes it very difficult to keep your eyes open. 

After Joe received the help he needed, Colin and Alex continued their ride while Brittany made sure Joe was drinking his Gatorade.  Towards the end of the day he was feeling better and was able to eat half a bag of pretzels.  For the first time on this trip he was the first in bed.  We were glad that the worst seemed to have passed and he would be fine.  He wanted to add:  In my defense, I didn’t realize this until after the century ride, but my back brake was scrubbing the whole time.  Well at least it’s over…

Mileage: 90.90
Average:  17.9 

Since Joe was still recovering it was just Alex and Colin who biked.  The wind wasn’t that bad, averaging about 8-10mph, which is a lot better then what it was when we did our first century ride.  It was the first time we felt like we were taking advantage of how flat Kansas is.  We got into a rhythm and it felt like the day flew by.  While stopping in a town on the way to our end spot, Rush Center, we ran into Eric again and also met up with another cyclist, Colby.  Colby is a great guy from Philadelphia who is also biking by himself.  He was biking with one of his friends but once they got through California his friend bailed on him and went home.  Although it has been tough physically and mentally (not to mention being away from family and friends), we continually think of our underlying purpose of this trip to carry us forward and keep us grounded.

Even though we did 90 miles, it felt like it took no time at all.  We got into Rush Center at 4 and Colby wasn’t far behind us.  It was nice to be done early because we all cleaned and tuned up our bikes.  We were also able to finalize our schedule for the next month.  What we have decided is that we are going to be arriving in Buffalo on the 29th.  There Colin’s Dad, Mr. Walsh and hopefully Dave Jones will join us for the ride from Buffalo to Burnt Hills.  We should, if all goes well, arrive into Burnt Hills on the 3rd of August.  It is crazy to think that in only three weeks we will be back in New York, especially since we just reached 2000 miles today; about half way.  However, our goal is to be averaging about 80-100 miles a day which should move things right along.  Once we reach Burnt Hills Mr. Zagorda will be joining us for the final leg, to Boston, where we anticipate our arrival being the 9th of August.  We talked to him tonight and he says he has been biking and is really excited to ride with us.  Other than talking to various people to get our schedule planned out for the up coming weeks, we just hung out and had a relaxing night.  

P.S. We are all in need of a shower.  Hopefully our dream will come true tomorrow.        

Mileage: 84.62
Average:  16.5 

  With our bikes all tuned up we set out from Rush Center for another day of about 90 miles. The weather was nice as we started the ride, but bound to get hotter. For the first 20 miles we rode south with almost no headwind and enjoyed a nice warm up to the day. After turning east we encountered a slight headwind that slowed us down a little, but we pushed for the first town of the day, Larned. With about 30 miles behind us for the day we rested for about 45 minutes while we resupplied our water bottled and got something to eat. While we rested on a sidewalk next to the van a nice lady drove up and told us we could go around the corner and use a courtyard with benches and tables instead of roughing it on the sidewalk. So we walked around the corner to check it out and lo and behold there was a beautiful courtyard with decked out with flowers, a hanging swing, plenty of seating in the shade, and soothing music playing.

  When we started the day we had planned on making it all the way to Nickerson to camp, but after calling the sheriff we learned that it isn’t legal to camp in the Nickerson city park as indicated by our maps. So we decided to cut the day short and go to Sterling, about 10 miles short of our original destination. After willing ourselves to move forward we rode out of Larned and crossed the Arkansas River for the first time since we paralleled it in Colorado. The rest of the ride seemed like a blur as we pushed hard to finish in time to use the public pool at the Sterling city park. One highlight included Colin attempting to feed a herd of cattle some of his Pop Tart. They seemed intrigued by the offer, but were ultimately frightened off by the thought of barely passable breakfast food.

  Upon arrival at Sterling City park we were impressed by the beauty of the small lake surrounded by walking paths, benches, and playgrounds. And of course the pool. It was well worth our $1 per person to enjoy cooling off and relaxing for 15 minutes. After finding a camp spot just across the parking lot from the pool we proceeded to relax and prepare ourselves for the next day. 

Mileage:  101.89
Average:  15.4 

  The night spent in Sterling City Park was not nearly as peaceful as it may sound. We were kept up late (by “we” I refer to those of us who go to bed at a reasonable hour…this excludes Joe) by the local high school kids hanging out in the parking lot. However, we still woke up at our usual time to prepare ourselves for the days ride. We were all nearly ready to go before Alex realized that he had a flat tire, which he quickly set about remedying. Only slightly behind schedule, we all piled into the van to drive back to where we had ended yesterday. While taking the bikes off the rack we saw that Alex’s tire was flat yet again. Apparently patched tubes do not hold air as well as they should.

With a new tube full of air and difficult start to the day behind them, the guys began their ride. The goal was to make it somewhere past Newton, the biggest town we’ve come across in Kansas with a population somewhere above 14,000. After making our way through the small town of Nickerson (not before almost taking a wrong turn, of course) we started to see some suburbs of Newton and eventually made our way to Walmart to pick up some groceries. The trip to Walmart was a welcome break from the heat and we spent as much time as we could perusing the shelves and enjoying the ice cold AC.

  When we left Newton we were unsure of how many more miles we were going to do, but as we pressed on we were definitely feeling the positive effects of the break and the AC. About 10 miles outside of Newton we decided we would try to make it all the way to Cassoday which would mean another century ride for us. The miles started sliding by as the sun set and the temperatures dropped into a more comfortable range. The flat terrain began to rise and fall with gentle rolling hills typical of eastern Kansas making the last few miles before dusk some of the most enjoyable we’ve had. A funny moment came when a bird decided to protect its territory from Joe and dive bomb his head. In true manly fashion, Joe screamed like a girl and pedaled as hard as he could to flee from the sharp beak of the angry bird. After a long day of almost exactly 100 miles we rode into Cassoday Town Park where we spent the night. To our surprise, our friend John Harris, who we met back in Nevada and shared some campsites with, was camped out waiting for us. After a quick dinner in the fading light we hit the hay and rested up after a long day of riding.

In sunscreen and sweat,
Alex, Joe, Colin, and Brittany

PS: We are a little behind, as you can tell.  Check back in a few days when we will have time to catch up!

Brittany, Colin, and Bandit recreating a picture taken about twenty years ago!

Are you sure we are still in Colorado?

The guys upon completing their first century ride!

Another state closer!

A storm closing in on the boys as they finished their ride.

Ready for another day of biking!




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