Day 6

Waterloo to Manchester was 20 miles shorter than the previous day. Not flat but not extremely hilly.  (GeoBike Chart)

The previous day rain was in the forecast for today. A 60% chance. However that percentage was reduced considerably by the time I asked a Waterloo volunteer what the forecast was. She said it was only a small chance of rain now and we should be good to go, or as the tee-shirt read “smooth sailing.” I decided to only take a lightweight rain coat instead of my full rain suit just in case.

According to the map the pass through towns would come fast and furious at the beginning of the day. Washburn, Gilbertville, Jubilee, Shady Grove were stacked on the map one right after another. I laughed when I when saw the sign on the outskirts of Gilbertville that read “Next food 30 miles.” I knew another town was just a few miles down the road. What I didn’t know was that Jubilee and Shady Grove weren’t going to have any vendors. They were too small. It was going to be 30 miles.

I had barely passed that 30 mile sign when it started to sprinkle. Everyone who brought rain gear with them stopped to put it on. The sprinkles became harder. Then they were no longer sprinkles, it was rain. Then the lightning and thunder started. It was no longer rain it was a full-fledged thunderstorm. No problem Jubilee was just ahead. The city was closed. No place to stop.

While I could average 10 mph in good conditions I sure couldn’t keep that pace in a thunderstorm. So I peddled. And I peddled. And I peddled. And it seemed I was getting nowhere. Finally the town of Rowley was in sight. I was cold, wet, hungry and still in desperate need of my first coffee of the day. When I arrived in Rowley every inch of covered area was taken. There was nowhere to stop. I had to keep going.

A couple of miles out of Rowley I saw a young kid on the side of the road yelling out the menu at the farm up ahead. I heard him say “hot coffee.”  It didn’t matter what the circumstances were I wanted a cup of hot coffee. I turned into the driveway and a man yelled out to me “all the way back to the shed!” I looked up and saw a machine shed with a few other riders taking shelter. I peddled in.

I found fellow riders wrapped in blankets sitting in lawn chairs trying to warm up. The look of fatigue was everywhere. And the rain continued to come down. For two more hours I took shelter in that shed.

I had hoped to be done riding for the day shortly after noon. But here it was noon and I was still in the shed only half way to Manchester. Cold, wet and already tired.

When the rain finally stopped the wind had shifted again. It was now a very strong south wind and the humidity was at 100%. Smooth sailing? Not a chance.

Nobody was talking to anyone on the road when the ride continued. The sole focus of everyone was to just get to Manchester and dry out. I was naturally worried if the crew was going to be able to get my tent up and what condition would it be in when I got there? It was raining in Manchester also.

The second half of the trip seemed to last forever. Already tired from riding in the rain I now faced hills with a very strong cross wind.

The thought of this being my last night in the tent kept me going. I had been looking forward to my last night in the tent ever since my first night in the tent. The more I peddled the closer I came to the end of the road…

When I finally arrived in Manchester four hours later than expected, I was spent. Our camp was set up on the grounds of an elementary school. The crew once again found a small tree to tie my tent to. The tent never looked better. The crew had also done an outstanding job of keeping our gear dry during the day. It could have been worse.

Ever since the tent broke on Day 2 I looked forward to tossing it away. It was not salvageable. I scouted around the school to find the dumpster. I planned on throwing the tent away in that dumpster the next morning.

One more day to go.

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