Sweating bullets

A third straight day of tornado warnings is fraying my riding nerve. When I think about it though, I come to the conclusion that whether I'm on the road or in this flimsy motel if a tornado is going to pass through it'll catapult me into low orbit either way. So I might as well ride. The line of storms is moving east and I'm headed northwest so that's a plus.

On that note I get out and am happy to find the wind is still blowing from the south while route 1 is taking me straight north towards Jonesboro. It almost feels like cheating to have it this good what with the wind, the shoulder and the mild temps. By noon I'm in Jonesboro for lunch and have racked up a record 40 miles already without breaking a sweat.

The second part of the day has me riding northwest on 63 and the wind by now has changed direction so that it comes mainly off from my left. Even though it's not head on I feel like I'm biking at the bottom of a swimming pool. I had this sudden vision that I was caught in some kind of slow-mo dimension where everyone around me zooms around at normal speed while I'm stuck in a spider web. It makes me realize the fickle nature of, uh, nature and how what it giveth with one hand it taketh away with the other. Thankfully the brunt of the Ozark hills is still a few miles west of my location otherwise I would have thrown my hands up in the air and said screw it.

The bike has reached a point of detente and is mercifully not breaking down needlessly. We now have a mutual understanding. It will not go berserk when I shift so long as I don't shift. Hmmm, that was easy enough. On the other hand it now squeaks like an old mattress on each pedal stroke. Evidently something needs greasing but that's a job for the pros - or at least someone who has a copy of Bike Repair For Dummies handy.

I think my generally poor nutrition regimen is catching up with me. My breakfasts, when I have any breakfast at all, are usually a gas station chocolate milk and a honey bun or gummy bears. My lunches range from a burger to some other grease slop. And my dinners might be a decent meal or just more gummy bears. Worse perhaps I have largely abandoned Powerade drinks for ordinary juice because juices taste better. I don't feel thirsty during the day and I'm never hungry. Still, I have little energy. The Ras and bike trailer duo keep moving forward mostly on inertia. Pedaling, let's be honest, is not a very difficult workout. As we know by now, the mettle is tested though whenever the road cops me any kind of inclination. I have gone on the questionable wisdom that my body can feed off the last ten years' worth of pizza and ice cream that has accumulated around my belly. As long as I'm hydrated and take a daily multivitamin pill (thanks for the tip Phil!) then I should be okay. The computer says I've burned just shy of 4,000 calories for today's six hour ride and that's not counting the other 18 hours left of the day. I sure hope that in all this I'm shedding a few pounds. I can't tell by just looking in the mirror.

Everything hurts. I'm sore to the bones. Even my thoughts hurt. If I woke up like this on a normal day I'd think I had the flu and call in sick. My main concern are my hands which lately hurt as soon as I put them against the handlebar. There is no comfortable position and the feeling within is like the little fleshy stuff inside is tearing loose. The tips of my fingers are either numb or have that 'pins and needles' sensation. Off the bike I'm finding it difficult to pick anything up because of the pain. However, there is no swelling and I have no blisters so the show goes on. I just wish they would hurry and toughen up. For too many years all the work they've had to do is press keys on keyboards. This is their first ever exercise challenge.

Well, that's enough whining. I made it to Hoxie, a moribund town with a motel that charges just $30 a night. Although I had no plans to take a rest day the weather channel is still predicting severe weather tonight and for tomorrow high winds coming from the northwest. With that, fuggedaboutit, I'm waiting til the atmosphere settles down before taking on the Ozarks. Hopefully, my hands and feet can recover a bit as well for the task ahead.


Day 27