For now, the ride in brief:
Prep begins: Glen in the mobile fortress.... a.k.a., zie RAAMwagen (a secret nickname I've given it, but really haven't uttered until now... muahahahaha!) No, that's not an announcement.. just a deeply unfounded and financially ridiculous pipedream... for now.
Next to it, the SAG-Delux, now with roof-carrier! Thanks, again, Badger!
|Huh? The Dude realizes how much work it is to prep stuff out of a trunk, after months of riding from home.|
|Koggy, at the ready. A perfect morning, all-around - clear, crisp, inviting|
We began our tour promptly at 6:09am, after checking in at Speedy's c-store, and headed out onto quiet St. Joseph streets. It really didn't seem like a Monday morning... light traffic, but who's complaining?
The early hills taxed my legs a bit - I never seem to get warmed up until maybe mile 20 these days, so early hills are always a bit "fun."
|Whaddayaknow? Not much, you? Face-shot, on US-59 northbound, south of Oregon, MO. A few layers still present , as thick, low clouds - almost fog - continue to blanket the morning. The scenery begins to open up, and distances between towns expand.|
|Glen, cuttin' up the countryside - the reverse angle of the picture above, US-59 - headed into the expanse of northwestern Missouri.|
|Here, you can see the new bridge at left. Unimaginative engineering, and not much higher than the old bridge.|
|A rare treat, we encounter an eastbound BNSF coal train while on the bridge!|
|Yours truly, sitting atop the state line, 60 feet above the rolling Missouri|
|State line! Back in Rulo again. (Think CCR.)|
Right at the state line, at about 9:45am, the sun finally comes out in full force, and the clouds disappear!
|NE-8 highway, westbound... under blue skies! Awesome views all around, as we hammer toward Falls City, NE.|
We make Falls City, NE at 10:30am, approximately. Skipping the Subway sandwiches this time, we are in and out in 30 minutes or less, swapping layers, refueling, and laughing. Sonic, just down the road, becons.... but, I resist the call of tater tots...
Meanwhile, it's a great day for a ride!
|On NE-8, headed back toward Kansas, a smaller version of the Rulo Bridge gives another visual treat. This one crosses the Big Nemeha Creek near Salem, NE. Glen on point! Here, Glen and I proved ourselves as a solid pair, each taking multiple-mile-long pulls on NE-8, at times holding steady at 20mph, with a very slight tailwind helping. Nutrition proved excellent, my saddle near perfection, and push consistent. I don't know if I've felt stronger this year, so far, than on this section.|
|After a much-improved performance from me on NE-8's last few miles, Glen and I pause at US-75 and NE-8, and consider riding to Omaha - just because. Unfortunately, it would have added 300km to our trip. Next time...|
|Glen, pausing at the NE/KS border on US-75 southbound. There's still construction about, but it's a much better road than we rode in November '12.|
|Pause for the cause, at Morrell, KS. The only services, a pop machine and a bench in the shade -- which is all I really need! The look is confident, and of enjoyment - a nice change from previous rides! In my personal notebook of strange nutritional combinations that work well on rides, today's entry is Mountain Dew and Mounds candy bars. Weird, but I'm not questioning it. On this stop, I tried a Bonk-Breaker energy bar... these worked well, too.|
|Another great shot - the road looks almost like gravel, and feels about like gravel - but we don't have a care in the world!|
After the fun of the camera, we checked off the remaining miles to White Cloud, KS., and the Tee with K-7, marking our final run back to the finish. In November, I managed to recover from the chipseal pounding and up my pace to a degree that would help salvage a decent, though difficult, finish. THIS day, we had been planning on the same, yet the difference lay in how fresh we'd been compared to the November version. I felt strong, fresh, ready - and Glen and I both knew we were on-target for a sub-12 hour finish, perhaps. It had been a near-perfect day, nutritionally, and it reflected in our riding.
Until we hit White Cloud.
This is where the pictures stop, and the tale begins... a reversal of fortune neither of us saw coming.
Arriving at K-7 and Main street at White Cloud just a hair before 4:00pm, with light winds and hot - but bearable - temps, Glen and I said "hello" to the river once again, and turned south.
...to be continued... (see Pt.2 post)