Day 23: Great Bend to McPherson, KS

65 miles, 512 feet climbed

Today’s predicted winds were greater in velocity than yesterday’s, with higher gusts and directly from the south. Our route was due east. Not optimal, right. Things were relatively calm for the first couple of hours but then they picked up for the second half of the ride. Luckily the federal highway we rode was designed with wide shoulders, allowing ample room to steer back on course as the gusts tried to direct me into traffic. (I would not have ridden Texas/Oklahoma’s narrow shoulders in these winds.)

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Day 22: Dodge City to Great Bend, KS

86 miles, 328 feet climbed

A week or so ago, John from the UK introduced me to the Epic Ride Weather app, which pulls down GPS route files from Ride with GPS and generates charts showing various aspects of the weather along the route, including wind speed and direction. For today’s leg of our adventure we headed northeast and the wind direction was predicted to be directly from the south (at 14-19 mph with gusts as high as 28 mph), offering a slightly quartering tailwind. I didn’t feel that it helped much but it didn’t impede much either.

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Day 21: Liberal to Dodge City, KS

84 miles, 732 feet climbed

Finally, a true, not imagined, tailwind, with more to come tomorrow. Hooray! At times it was only a perpendicular wind but, especially for the last 20 miles as our route pointed due north along with the winds, it took virtually no effort to cruise in the 20-25 mph range. 84 miles were gobbled up quickly. And our rooms were ready when I arrived at the hotel. A very good day.

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Day 19: Dalhart, TX to Guymon, OK

72 miles, 896 feet climbed

Another day with significant crosswinds. My average speed increased from 10.9 mph to 12.3 mph and there was less climbing. The trucks got over into the fast lane whenever they could, which helped with the wind effects they can generate. I had a decent baby back ribs dinner at the pub next to our hotel, with one oddity–the coleslaw was swimming in thousand island dressing or something very similar. I’ve never had it that way before and don’t recommend it.

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Day 18: Tucumcari, NM to Dalhart, TX

53 miles, 2008 feet climbed

Today’s winds were worse than yesterday’s. I vowed to get to the Texas state line on my bike and then evaluate. The evaluation went like this–I’m not being paid to do this, instead I’m paying. I decided not to beat myself up with another four hours or so of wrestling my bike against the winds. I took a van ride for the remainder. Some of those who stuck it out didn’t arrive at the hotel until 7 pm.

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Day 17: Somewhere east of Las Vegas to Tucumcari, NM

82 miles, 2211 feet climbed

Today’s ride was shortened from 109 miles due to the fires to the north of Las Vegas. For the same reason, instead of riding from Santa Fe to Las Vegas yesterday, we spent another rest day in Santa Fe. I’m not complaining because Melanie and I had more time to spend together before she drove back to Albuquerque to fly home.

So we began by loading into the SAG fleet, augmented by two rental passenger vans and drove about 2 hours towards our designated starting point at what would have been the first SAG. Had we ridden to Las Vegas, it looks like it was all on frontage roads, avoiding I-25. We shared the same views from the vans.

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Day 14: Albuquerque to Santa Fe, NM

67 miles, 4633 feet climbed

Today began with about 6 miles of steady elevation gains. A little downhill respite and then a continued climb to today’s SAG at the 32 mile mark. Melanie, having done a little shopping in Albuquerque, passed me before the SAG and stopped for a visit. Based upon nothing in particular, I’d assumed that New Mexico Route 14 was a canyon with narrow, twisty, roads. In fact, it was a four-lane road for the first half, narrowing to two lanes near and past Madrid, and then busy roads into Santa Fe. The terrain was more medium-sized valley than canyon.

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Day 13: Grants to Albuquerque, NM

79 miles, 1686 feet climbed

Another day with less Interstate, more frontage roads. I had two flats while on the Interstate, one a 1-inch nail which deflated my tire in a second, the other a slow flat from a tire wire. A SAG van was close for each, allowing me to use a floor pump to bring the tire pressure up to a full 100 lbs rather than the 70-80 lbs I can achieve with my fame pump.

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