I had breakfast with Greg, a great friend from college who now lives in Topeka. We met at the IHOP, had a great conversation and we talked about many things as we ate. Had eggs and pancakes, coffee and orange juice. I was a bit hungry and wanted the food to last me until I got home later that day. It took me 6 and a half hours to get here, although the trip was marked by many picture stops. With the wind for today I wasn't sure how long it would take to get home. Wasn't planning on a lot of picture stops, but was certain that I wasn't going to travel as fast as last Friday.
As I took out, for some reason, an old Irish blessing came to mind. You know the one, it goes like this.
May the Road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall softly on your fields
And may God hold you in the palm of his hands
The first part of the trip was westerly. Fun it was not! By the time I left, the temperature was a little warmer and not an issue. Or at least I didn't think about the temperature as much. I was pretty busy keeping the scooter straight sometimes. Oh, maybe it wasn't all that bad, but there were some moments. Like coming out into the open after passing a hedgerow and the crosswind catching me. Or going down into a valley where I would be reasonably protected from the strong winds, then coming to the crest of a hill and being pummeled by the wind as I reached the top.
The wind was never at my back today! But I was hoping that God would, well you know, do some watching over me.
During the first part of the trip I thought I was doing pretty good to maintain 40 mph going west. Any faster didn't seem too safe. Again there was almost no traffic after I got out of town and I didn't hold up any other drivers. I made a mental note to try and stay relaxed, but sure had to remain very alert as winds would sometimes surprise me and I would find myself about a foot to the right of where I was just a second earlier. Leaning sort of helped, but not always as the winds were fairly gusty. I remembered that I had once participated in a bicycling tour called the "Wicked Wind 100" back in my bicycling days.
I approached the town of Eskridge and decided to get some gas. The only gas station is downtown at an old station. They didn't have premium, but I didn't need a lot and decided to get some anyway. Figured it would mix in the tank with the premium already there. It didn't cause a problem.
As I was getting ready to fill up the scooter, an "old boy" in a pickup drove up and got out. He was friendly, saw me and asked:
"Isn't it a little windy out here today?"
Many potential answers raced through my mind. You know like:
You dummy! Isn't it obvious?
Cursing at him crossed my mind, but knew that he was, in his own way, just trying to be friendly.
So I just replied with "Yeah it is, thanks for reminding me!"
I noticed a church just on the next street with a parking lot full of cars. After all, it was Sunday and about 11:00 am. I thought about that Irish blessing again. And again.
I continued to fight the crosswinds for awhile, maybe got a little more comfortable with them, but never entirely, and was relieved to eventually turn back south to face the headwinds. Probably not a lot more fun, but hopefully less tricky and with fewer surprise wind gusts.
It did turn out to be a bit of a relief. Fighting the headwinds were much easier even though I rarely got above 50 mph. It wsn't that the scooter couldn't handle a higher speed, but more that I just wasn't comfortable with it. I have driven in strong winds many times, but usually in town where most of my riding occurs. On a highway, the situation is different. I had just gotten Max back from the shop and I really didn't want to put any new scratches on him.
This shot was taken near where the road turned back to the south. It looks easterly. I think you can see the effect of the wind on the grasses.