By Monday morning I was coming around to the perplexing realization that I would need to change my plans. This meant that I would have to bail on my riding partner who I had been planning this leg of the trip with. He had done a good job of arranging our route and lodging, now all of those responsibilities were being reassigned to me. It appeared that I would be making my way to Denver the same way I made it to Chicago: alone.
In light of this realization, I accompanied Dave to school so I could use a proper computer at the library. There is only so much planning one can do from their cellphone. I spent a good part of the day looking at routes to Denver and trying to better understand the terrain. In all honesty, the only terrain between here and there was corn.
Despite the relatively flat, smooth ride I was piecing together, I found myself freaking out about something. Was I worried about riding solo? No way. I had already made it 1,000 miles, what was another 1,400? Was I worried about the summer heat? Nah. Between my Osprey bag, some sunscreen and my riding gear I could stave off the sun. My newfound fear was far less rational, much like the bearanoia I experienced at the beginning of my journey. Now I was worried about tornadoes. I mean, I was going to be riding my bike through tornado alley! Don't laugh at me, you saw Twister! Remember when that cow got thrown across the road? That could be me!
To calm my anxiety I decided to do some research on tornados, which, as we all know, is a horrible idea. In hindsight, I think a good rule of thumb for me is to NOT use the internet when I am irrational/panicked about something. I spent the next two hours tumbling down a rabbit hole, turning all of my worst nightmares into realities. I learned that not only would I be riding my bike through tornado alley, I would be riding my bike through tornado alley during peak tornado season. Great!
I watched videos of monstrous tornadoes ripping through towns, researched tornado fatality statistics and even found a couple's prom picture that was photobombed by, let's say it all together now, a tornado. At this point I was fully convinced that I was headed straight for an F5.
Thankfully I had dinner plans at Janelle's that evening which pulled me away from my masochistic internet session. Before arriving at her home I called my buddy Jay for a reality check. I generally think of Jay as being a pretty outdoorsy guy, so I confide in him when it comes to these sorts of things. I'm not sure why I perceive Jay to be such an outdoorsy fellow. It probably has to do with the fact the he has a beard and went to school in Colorado, so he basically has to be some form of a mountaineer. Plus, his wife (also my dear friend) is from Oklahoma, so between the two of them they must know something about tornadoes.
Calling Jay was a good idea. He really talked me off of a ledge there. It turned out that he had actually witnessed a tornado and, uh, it wasn't that big of a deal. He shared the story of a time in Colorado when he watched one in the distance from his porch. Talking to a REAL PERSON who actually had a clue what they were talking about helped to demystify all of the Twister-flying-cow-bullshit that was going on in my head. After that talk I was able to settle down for an incredible home-cooked meal at Janelle's.
Today wasn't the first day I became obsessive over something and it surely wouldn't be the last. Uncertainty and insecurity make people act in mysterious ways. I guess that's what this trip is all about, getting over mental mountains so I can get over physical ones.