Riding a stead tailwind on a bicycle is a lot like surfing a big wave.
Some may disagree, but one of the greatest joys of living along the 99th Meridian West is the wind. Just ask a farmer whose windmill is pumping his water trough full. Or just ask the wind energy companies or the landowners who receive annual land-lease payments when a wind farm locates a turbine or two on their property. Wind is a good thing, and, here in Kansas, we’re harvesting its potential more and more every year.
But that’s not what this blog is about.
What this blog is about is best summed up in the lyrics to a popular Beach Boys song: “Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world.” The Beach Boys may have never imagined they were writing about Kansas when they penned this song, but every time I go for a tailwind ride on my bicycle these lyrics come to mind.
Monday’s high winds offered an ideal opportunity to catch a wave, Great Plains style. That is exactly what I did late Monday afternoon after spending most of President’s Day working on taxes, organizing the house, and doing some other chores.
The secret to a successful tail wind ride is coordinating it with a friend—or in my case spouse—who can pick you and your “surf bike” up down the road. Since I didn’t want to have Kathie travel too far from Pratt after she left work, I departed late in the day.
It was a beautiful, sunny ride south on Highway 281 through the Gypsum Hills, which might be analogous to the waves of the ocean. I pedaled along, aided by the “wind waves,” averaging over 21.5 mph when I finished and topping out at over 41 mph down the hill leading to the Elm Mills turnoff.
All in all, it was a glorious way to end President’s Day and made only better when Kathie rolled up behind me beeping her horn in her little Hyundai somewhere between Medicine Lodge and Kiowa not long after the sun had set in the hills.
For cycling the Kansas prairie, Monday’s waves were Akaw! (something surfers shout when they spot a huge, perfect wave, per surfer’s dictionary).