September 23, 2016 – Sun, 85 degrees
Miles Today: 66
Miles to Date: 16,808
States to Date: 45
I love the Plains. They teach you not to take anything for granted. When you think the world is flat, it gets flatter. When you think the world is windy, it gets windier. Even when the wind is with you, there is so much of it that you have to ride full grip. You sail with the gust and then, the gust disappears and you wobble.
In theory, I had an easy day. Southerly crosswinds that often allowed me to tack to advantage. I happened by Cobblestone Ranch, which former state archeologist Don Rowlinson has taken on as a personal project. He gave me a great tour and told stores of the English immigrants who raised sheep in this area. We could have talked into the afternoon except that I had miles to go to Hoxie for lunch. I found JD’s, the local hangout, packed for Friday lunch: salad bar and potato bar with chili and all sorts of extras, but not much conversation. People don’t talk with strangers when a place is buzzing.
Thirty-five miles to Colby on a full belly seemed a fine way to pass the afternoon. The forecast called for a cold front with rain overnight, but there was no sign of it in the cloudless sky. Still, the wind knew something was brewing. Despite an adequate shoulder and good pavement, I fought to keep Tom steady against the tailwinds of the grain trucks that passed in my direction, their comrades head blasts when they roared east, and the gusts topping thirty miles an hour that hit me from the south, or southeast, or southwest, or whatever direction confused things the most.
At one point a string of trucks jangled me, so I stopped for a break. I stilled myself. Back in the saddle I got better at gauging my weight against the wind. Three miles outside of town the highway dipped through a gully where the gale was so strong I leaned Tom at least thirty degrees into the blast. The kind of day I am so glad I ride a Surly.
I arrived in town shortly after four and took a room at the first basic motel I passed. I had made good time, but I was wiped. I just wanted to be out of the wind.