Cycling in Kansas

21 10 2007

Cycling in Kansas means battling wind and I’m pretty sure I would have been one of those pioneer women who lost her mind to the combination of isolation and the neverending noise of the wind. I get pretty sick of the constant blowing and I’ve come up with a few terms for it.

The Wall O’ Wind: As the southwest breezes come in across the Flint Hills they encounter no barriers, which results in the Wall O’ Wind. This is a steady 20 to 30 mph wind with heavier gusts. We used to have this alot riding west from Topeka, where cross winds threatened to blow my front wheel out from under me. I hate these wind conditions, which force me to curse aloud at high volume. Fortunately, wind speeds like this are noisy so my cycling buddies didn’t hear much of it unless they were downwind.

The Dead Zone: That heavenly 4 or 5 pedal strokes at the bottom of a hill, just before you start up the next one, where you’re momentarily sheltered from the wind.

The Kansas Swirl: This brings to mind the hydrologic action most often seen in a toilet bowl. It feels the same way. Generally experienced just before and after the aforementioned “Dead Zone”. Buffets a cyclist around enough to make one question the sanity of being on a bike on such a windy day. A rational person would stop and throw their bike in the ditch adjacent to the “Dead Zone” and hitchhike home.

Onion Builders: Onion being a reference to the bulbous muscles in a sprinter’s rear end. The same muscles made sore from long climbs into a big headwind. Betsy has mountains to climb in Colorado, and I have the Kansas wind.

Quad detachment: The sensation of having one’s quads torn lose from their moorings while climbing an Onion Builder into a Wall O’ Wind. Only temporary, but always worrisome.

The Sweet Spot: A quiet place very close to Dale’s back wheel where I am sheltered from the Wall O’ Wind. This is a wonderful place to be and I’ve spent alot of time there.

The Tuck: I learned this from Betsy and it’s an effective strategy for keeping up with the heavier guys on a downhill. Because it involves placing one’s face very close to the handlebars, it’s important to avoid potholes while in “The Tuck”. A big pothole could mean finding your front teeth embedded in that cushy new synthetic cork handlebar tape you just bought.

Finally, “The Tuck” results in my reason for tolerating the inconveniences listed above: speed. There aren’t alot of things better than bombing downhill on a bike at 30 or 40 mph.




2 responses

21 10 2007
Bill Smith

It has been very interesting to have a Google Alert for Blogs on “Kansas Flint Hills!”
Yours came up today!
We have a 22 county Flint Hills Tourism Coalition promoting visits to the Kansas Flint Hills – this is the website:
Our web site is to promote the Kansas Flint Hills; and we were so happy to be in the 22 page color photo spread in National Geographic’s April Issue on the Kansas Flint Hills, as a distinctive landscape.

We would appreciate a link from your site, to ours, if you are willing to do so. THANKS!
Best wishes!

Bill 😉

Personal Blog:

22 10 2007

I completely agree. The uphills and flats into the teeth of the wind build character, but flying downhill builds joy.

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