May 8
 Great Bend, KS  to Abilene, KS
 
  
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Today we battled two “H’s”---headwinds and heat. Both turned the 128-mile leg from Great Bend, KS to Abilene, KS, into a very tiring bike ride, and we were all relieved to be received at the preferred Holiday Inn Express adjacent to I-70 in Abilene. Our route essentially went due east for around 75 miles, and then shot due north for 50 more. The 15-20 mph winds were out of the southeast, which gave us a quartering headwind to battle all morning. By lunch, I was pretty demoralized and feeling quite lousy. The heat had been building right from the 7:00 AM start, and was by noon was into the low-90’s (hard to believe on Monday I was wearing everything I had through snow squalls on the leg from Albuquerque past Santa Fe to Las Vegas.). A few miles past lunch, our route made the left turn due north, and it was like we all had rocket boosters. Route 86 between Canton and just outside Abilene goes through some very scenic countryside, as the land begins to get markedly hillier, and the adjacent wheat fields are now about knee high. It was easy to fly over the rollers at 25+ mph without expending too much energy, a welcome relief from the morning’s sufferfest. One fly in the ointment was a bridge being replaced near the town of Gypsum. We all had to portage our bikes down and up the banks of the river, but we got it done and continued on to what was supposed to be our last food/drink stop in Gypsum. Our vans had to detour because of the bridge, and therefore many of us elected to press on without getting any more water. Much of the last 20 miles into Abilene was again fighting the headwind, and with temps now well into the upper 90’s, a little grocery in Solomon, KS was very popular as we invaded to consume anything cold and liquid. The last ten miles I had Mark Wanderman, a pediatrician from Minnesota not as accustomed to heat as this Virginia cyclist, sit on my wheel and get a pull into the hotel. Mark paid me back with a milkshake within sight of the hotels---on the road, bikers have a strange sense of currency. Stats for the day, avg speed was 17.1 mph, feet climbed was 2,247, and calories were 8,784. We are at mile 1,581, so we are about 46% across the US of A. Tomorrow we ride 109 miles to Topeka, to hopefully finish off what seems like the tour of Kansas. Tuesday we finally get into another state, that being Missouri.

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An echelon was about the only effective weapon to battle the morning's quartering headwinds.
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Once we turned north on route 86 near the town of Galva, life got much easier for me and riding companions UK Steve (Bailey) and LA Daryl (Taylor). The scenery got hillier as we rolled through the wheat fields.
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A bridge out for replacement on route 86 near Gypsum presented a momentary obstacle, but we all scrambled down and up the banks to portage around the missing bridge.
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A textbook echelon to counter a sidewind.