|Fun People I Ride With|
Well first of all, it had been awhile since I'd been out to the Lake. I way under-estimated the distance to the parking lot where I was gonna meet up with the gang - and I got a flat on the way out.
I did ride Hwy 24, West toward Topeka. Not the safest road but the fastest road. There was not a lot of traffic, so that was good -- but a crosswind and head wind made it hard in the openness of the Kansas River Breaks. And to make things worse, since the drought last year, the ground got so dry that it sank and shifted. A lot of the road had broken off or sank, mostly the little bit of shoulder (and I can tell you that the strip of pavement I had to ride on is only shoulder-width) such that I had to mostly ride on the Hwy. But as I said, I got a pinch-flat on the front wheel and had to retreat to the side of the road and up into the old cemetery to change the flat.
This put me behind schedule and I really had to haul-ass now to get to the parking lot on time. When I got to the turn off of 24, I had to ride what I thought was a mile to the bait shop on Ferguson Rd, and then about a quarter mile to meet everyone. Seemed longer (in fact was four miles to the bait shop and a mile to the parking lot) and it was up-hill and now I had a headwind full face to make matter worse.
Remarkably, I was only 20 minutes late. There was every one's cars. I know I could catch up because we've been riding and then stopping to let Chuck catch up (he's recovering from being hit by a car) Trouble now was which way did everyone go? Damn... So I called Chuck's phone-- no answer.
So then I called Laura's phone. She had posted it to our group email for what ever reason--and to make a long story short, she picked up; the group had just stopped.
"Laura, you don't know who I am, and we've never met, but I'm Bruce and I'm here at the parking lot. I had a flat and I'm late. Which way did you guys go - so I can catch up?"
Since I still have my Tucson phone number, I'm sure she was perplexed by who was calling. I'd never just pick up my cell from a number I didn't recognize, and not while out riding...
"We've stopped, and we're just four miles up the road! I'm sure you'll catch up!"
So I sped off -- but the way they went -- on up Ferguson Rd, was all up-hill, and the headwind was strong if not stronger. My spirits were sinking as I struggled to get anywhere fast, mes amis. I was already beat up just getting out here. I started telling myself I should have driven out like everyone else --what a dummy for thinking I'd simply ride out to the lake and join in...
After climbing, huffing and puffing, up yet another large hill on Ferguson Rd. I spied John (the freakin' fast old man) speeding down the road opposite me. He had come to pull me up to the group - I was heading down-hill and we speed past each other, but soon, he was climbing after me as I was riding up yet another large hill.
Even without saying a word, I jumped on John's wheel, and all I can say, Gentle Readers of This Blog, is that John and I hammered the circuit race course and we were flying! I think we rode the five or six miles to meet the group averaging about 20 mph! We were riding fast, and I stayed right on John's wheel. He knew exactly what he was doing and adjusted his speed to keep me right in his slip-stream.
Very soon, but really felt like forever, we shot up to the group. I was completely cooked. I had noticed while we were speeding up and down on the rollers around the lake, that my arms and legs looked bright pink: I forgot to mention that with the headwind came clouds and the cooler temps. I had not dressed warm enough...
Slowly I recovered, but staying in the pack, and getting my wind and wits back. Damn but that was fun!
Later I got convinced to get a ride back to town, saving me about 25 miles. We all went to the pizza place in Perry, Kansas and had a fun time just talking and having a few beers.
Oh yeah, John is second from the right in the picture. Laura, who picked up her phone is just to the left of me. All these guys are about ten years older than me -- and they are fast!