Friday, June 18, 2010

let it rain

When I left Hill City at about 7:00am it was cool and cloudy but comfortable. The forecast was for a 20% chance of rain and highs nearing 100 degrees. So, I decided I didn't need to take a jacket. Big mistake. It started to rain about 7 miles out of town. Then came the thunder and lightning. It was scary to be out in that, but once you are, your options are limited. You can turn back, ride forward, or get to the lowest spot  around. In this case that would be a ditch that's filling with water. I was getting wetter and colder by the minute. After about 5 miles of riding the storm out I saw a sign for a rest area in 1 mile. When I arrived, there were several bikers huddled under small shelters to get out of the rain. Then a park ranger came to our rescue.
Nicodemus is a National Historic Site under the auspices of the National Park Service. It was created as an all black community to give freed slaves an opportunity to buy cheap land and make their way on the prairies of Kansas. The museum opens at 9:00am, but when the rangers saw us gathering, and suffering they opened a little early. They also called in some help and tried to make us comfortable by handing out paper towels, and blankets to those really suffering. They started coffee and water for tea or cocoa. They also handed out trash bags to use as rain gear for those of us who trusted the forecast. And they allowed the SAG volunteers to set up inside providing snacks. A soggy group got to spend some time learning about a place we might have breezed through if the weather had been better.
I spent about 90 minutes trying to dry off and warm up in Nicodemus. Then it was time to ride again. To help me get warm I would look for riders in front of me and ride as hard as I could to catch them, and then I would look for another rider, or group, to chase. I finally was behind a single rider about 5 miles from our lunch stop at Stockton. I really pushed myself, and I was closing the gap, but every time I thought I had him, he would hit a hill, stand up and accelerate up it. I finally caught him and congratulated him on his pace, them almost immediately fell back to a more sustainable tempo. I lunch with him in Stockton and learned that his name was John, and he was from Roanoke, VA.  
Lunch was served outside in the park by a group from the high school. The food was good, but when I was done I went looking for coffee and pie. The hoards had hit the cafe before I arrived and their was no pie to be had. But they directed me to a coffee place where I enjoyed a fresh scone and coffee, as well as conversation with the only other biker there, a grandmother from Wichita, and a few locals.
Not a bad ride after that, and I was thrilled to see the sun in time to set up camp in Osborne. After I cleaned my bike I took advantage of a couple food booths set up at the school for dinner. At the meeting that evening we were introduced to a couple who live in Alton. The SAG hags had set up on the road across from their house. When they saw how bad the weather was they made numerous trips across the road to bring coffee, cookies, and anything else they could think off for the volunteers and riders. Their names were Gwen and Roger Cooper and he's a singer/songwriter who played s song for us called: "I get to". His song and their generosity towards us was much appreciated.

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