Bonk City

[Ed Note: This clearly was published, as I received comments, but it no longer appears in the blog history. It is reposting today to get it out of the “drafts” file and be searchable again. My apologies if you read it before; but you can always use another dose of Tower of Power.]

We left Pierre with the temperature rising and a stiff breeze. Some folks skipped breakfast (which was at 6:30) to try to beat the heat. The breeze was no big deal cruising through the city but was clearly going to be a big deal once we were on the road.

I was traveling at about ⅔ my normal speed until fatigue set in. Then my speed began to drop. By 30 miles in I was down to 7-8 mph and recalculating time on the road; figuring I’d be riding for 10 hours and facing my toughest day on the road ever. I became drowsy and reminded myself that falling asleep on a bike would be painful, so roused myself to keep going. Approaching mile 38 I saw a group at the side of the road and one of the vans slowing and pulling over. I hoped they would stop and that they would have some food. They moved on without stopping. As I approached I realized they had added an additional water stop due to the conditions.

Normally I eschew Gatorade, since it is mostly sugar and artificial color and flavor and best suited to pouring over the head of a winning football coach. Today I sucked down a whole bottle. I wished aloud for some food and Dolores offered ½ of a granola bar. It was just what I needed. I rode out at twice the speed I rode in at. By the picnic stop I was cruising at normal speed.

I ate and drank my way back to a semblance of normalcy. I realized I was not aware of the heat due to the wind. At 20 mph and becoming gusty, blowing in at 1 or 2 o’clock, it was not my friend. After picnic we turned and it became a cross wind.

When I stopped to rest and cool my feet, it was a bit tricky to remain upright while standing. The crosswind wasn’t a lot of fun, but it beat a headwind. The pavement changed to a chipseal that resembled gravel glued to a substrate – a texture more like gravel than pavement, but the gravel doesn’t move. I think it would cause a particularly painful road rash. With 4 miles to go we turned and had a tailwind. That was when I noticed the heat. If traveling at <10 or >25 mph, there was a breeze. In between the air felt still and hot. I sailed into camp at 30 mph. When I saw the turnoff ahead, I stood on the pedals and the wind pushed me to the turnoff at 27.5 mph.

The temperature didn’t exceed 100 until my arrival, but the dewpoint is at 70 for a heat index of 111. Wind is currently 22 mph and gusting. As I walked through the gym to the showers, I noted that the gym was full of sleeping people. The tenters are the only people awake. Instead of 10 hours, I rode just over 6. That granola bar was a lifesaver!

Our planned destination blew up in May and is apparently still toxic, so we are at a bible academy 14 miles out of town, which advertises “God’s truth for today’s youth.” I guess I’m too old for that truth. It did shorten the ride, but those miles are just added on to tomorrow.

High winds are expected to continue through the night and tomorrow. Tuesday should be mostly a tailwind, with gusts to 40 mph. We will reach the halfway point for days and miles.

Smallest one room schoolhouse I’ve ever seen. Bike is for scale.

P.S. I think I discovered and fixed the cause of my flat tires (“punctures” to those of the British persuasion). The rim tape on my back wheel had rolled up on itself and three spoke holes were exposed. By re-wrapping the rim tape and patching the tubes, I was back in business. I am running on a patched tube now. The spare I’m carrying is new, but both patched tubes seem to be fine. At picnic I had no pressure loss.