You can plan a pretty picnic but you can't predict the weather. Sometimes that saying is good news, other times it is bad. Today it turned out to be great news. I had been freaking out the night before due to some ominous forecasts. The weather service had been predicting a 70 to 90 percent chance of thunderstorms and rain. Well, about a week prior a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms and rain turned into tropical storm Newton. I was certainly on edge when I awoke in the morning.
The conditions we experienced that day turned out to be among the best we had experienced in the great state of Kansas-slightly overcast, zero precipitation and steady tailwinds. Originally, Celine and I thought we'd only ride about 40 or 50 miles on this day. The conditions were so pleasant that we couldn't stop riding at 50. By about the 60 mile marker we reached the Colorado border.
This was a huge milestone for me. Colorado was bound to be a special destination. I had one brother, two cousins and a best friend in this great state. Of all of the states I would visit on this trip, Colorado might be the one where I was most deeply rooted. To say that I was excited to be in Colorado was an understatement.
Saying hello to Colorado also meant saying goodbye to Kansas. I reflected on the 9 days and 500 miles I spent traversing the sunflower state. My time here was as unpredictable as the state's weather. On just my second day I got stranded in some of the hottest weather I had experienced in decades, crumbling my confidence in my ability to get across. I felt summer winds that blew as hard as a gale. I hitched rides to escape perilous storms. Kansas pushed me to the brink, reminding me of my ability to persevere, and quite frankly, this was exactly why I embarked on this journey. I yearned for so long to take on a challenge like the one that Kansas presented me. As I crossed the border into Colorado, I thanked Kansas for the unexpected, exhilarating experience it provided me.
That evening I slept in a church in Sheridan Lake, Colorado along with about 10 other cyclists. Again, it was surreal to spend a Friday night in a church with a bunch of strangers. Before passing out I stepped outside to chat with Evan, a good dude from Minnesota. We stood in front of the church, watching a brilliant sunset to the West which abutted an electrical storm to the East. Evan and I watched in awe as lightning bolts glanced across the massive storm clouds. It was as though the sky over Colorado was welcoming me to the Rockies, whereas the sky over Kansas was reminding me that I got off easy.
That night I slept on a pew, using my sleeping bag as a pillow and clutching a rolled up pair of pants like a teddy bear. Yeah, maybe I did need a teddy bear. Kansas had worked me pretty good. Well, you know what they say, "Everybody cries in Kansas."