DAY 42   JULY 8   101.4 MILES

A raggedy ride beats a dressed up walk.                                        
                                              Simon Peat

It is possible that our memories are short but all of us generally agreed that today's ride was the most difficult to date.  The combination of long distance, gusty crosswinds and coarse texture of the road made each mile a challenge. 

A century ride (100 miles) is never easy but usually it is a stand alone main feature with shorter rides also available on that particular day.  We did not have the option of a shorter ride and it also followed an 80 miler of the previous day.  The wind still was 20 mph with gusts to 30 but today it came primarily from the north.  The gusts attempted to blow us into the traffic which, fortunately, there is very little on the roads we travel.  

A paceline is not effective in strong crosswinds because it requires an echelon formation which takes the entire width of the lane.  Also, the gusts can push one rider into another which would not be safe.  

The road did not have the major cracks of some of those previous but the texture was like gravel imbedded into the asphalt.  It works fine with the wider tires of motor vehicles but creates a rough vibration in our narrow tires.  It was very difficult to build any speed so we simply had to tough it out.  Including breakfast, lunch and other rest stops, it created a 12 or 13 hour day for most of the riders.   

Much of yesterday and today, we traveled on State Highway 46.  At 107 miles, it is purported to be the longest straight highway in the nation.  Actually, it contained an occasional curve as it crossed railroad tracks or a river but generally, it was quite straight.  

A parcel of land 1 mile square contains 640 acres and is known as a section.  Most of the roads in this part of the country, including Interstates, follow section lines.  In pioneer days, a quarter section, 160 acres, was awarded to any citizen over 21 who agreed to farm or otherwise improve it.  If a man and wife had 2 children over 21, they could receive an entire section. 

There was no proof of age required.  The law stated only that one had to place their right hand on a bible and swear that they were over 21 to receive their homestead.  Authorities were quite perplexed when obviously younger children of deeply religious parents swore that they were over 21.  It later came to light that parents would write the number 21 inside the shoes of their children so they could honestly swear.   

All but 3 of the members of our group are over 21 but no one gave us any land today.

Tip:  When purchasing riding sunglasses, wear your helmet and try on several.  Simulate several riding positions to check for unobstructed view.  Wraparound lenses are best because they provide the most wind protection and do not interfere with peripheral vision.