From early in the drive. I had my wits about me enough to realize it is not every day that you see giant mushrooms and smiling ladybugs speeding down the Ohio Turnpike.
A stop at Mom and Dad's in Madison for sweet corn, chicken, laundry, and sleep. Re-organizing all the bike gear and food and clothes exhaustedly thrown back in the car. Under twelve hours back in the homeland and I was westbound again.
At my parents' house. Apparently the theme of their garden this year is "Pissing Off The Neighbors." And you wonder where I get it.
Driving through to Colorado Springs, stopping somewhere in Nebraska just after darkness fell. Got out of the car and jumped on the mtb for an hour of spinning out the aches of racing and driving. The grips still sticky with sugars from race food, one brake lever still packed with Pennsylvania topsoil from the digger I took around mile 55. Cloud-to-cloud lightning lit up the sky above, purple-gray, as a storm rolled in fast. Suddenly my back, clad only in a t-shirt, was pelted with hailstones the size of macadamias. Flipflops on eggbeaters, thighs still aching from the race effort, I tried to speed back to the lights of the motel. By the time I made it back the hail had turned to rain, then five minutes later was nothing more than a strong, warm wind. This storm was moving fast, the atmosphere sucking back behind the pressure change. Already soaked, I turned around to finish out the ride in the wind. And was rewarded with a view of the thunderhead just passed, filling half the sky as it blew eastward across the fields. Frantic lightning flashed constantly, the most electric storm I have ever seen. A stormcloud that filled not just my entire vision but all my other senses as well. Prairie grasses bent sideways under the force of the winds.
And I laughed. This is what dedication to racing will get you. Instead of obliviously clicking cable channels in a warm motel room, I found myself out in the middle of a sublime and dangerous landscape. Not of my own choosing, but so lucky for an hour of riding, soaked and windblown in the dark prairie landscape.