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Uphill and Against the Wind - TransAm E-W
By Dave T

Day 38: Newton to Sterling - My lucky day!

Monday June 23, 1986, 78 miles (126 km) - Total so far: 1,932 miles (3,109 km)

Today I got up extra early and got moving to get some breakfast. Nobody else showed up at the diner so I headed out on my own. The weather was looking seriously threatening when I departed. I knew it was going to be one of those days....

Leaving Newton I traveled NW until the town of Hesston, where I turned due west. The wind was really blowing, and coming from SW to W today. Shortly after Hesston I could see huge bolts of lightning and a massive storm rolling across the plains. I was about half way to Buhler when I started to question why I left Hesston. There was no place to take any real cover as the storm approached, so I made a snap decision. I jumped into the ditch on the other side of the road near a drain bridge, got my rain gear on, covered up my Brooks and hoped for the best. The massive storm turned into a tornado and I watched it tear up the field just to the North of me. I held on to the bridge with one hand and my bike with the other, as the storm blew past me in a flurry.

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Another Storm in Tornado Alley

A short burst of rain dumped on me as I was thinking about getting rolling. A few more minutes the wind just stopped, I jumped on it and rode like crazy. I finally arrived in Buhler and stopped in a café to have some pie (I was hungry). The waitress said I was crazy to be out in the weather and that there was a tornado... yeah, no kidding lady, the damn thing just about blew right over me. It's not like I can just step on the gas and out run it (if anyone could out run it, it would be me)

The BC crew showed up at the café all soaking wet, but they waited in Hesston for the major part of the storm to pass. We all finally departed in light rain for the final 30 miles to Sterling. It was about 95 degrees so the rain actually felt pretty good, as it cooled me off. Shortly before Sterling the weather cleared up and the sun came out.

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Vu'ja-Day?

Arriving in Sterling my first priority was lunch, laundry, shower, pool, beer, not necessarily in that order. We camped at the city park once again, with a nice city pool. Lucky for us this was a dry city so we didn't get to have a beer. I guess it's my lucky day!

We all sat around the evening talking about the day, of course I told everyone I played chicken with the tornado and won.... (which I did)

[Author's Note:] - This was not my first encounter up close with a tornado. In 1984 while in High School a massive storm was brewing and then a tornado warning sounded. I grabbed my keys and ran to the parking lot, of course the teachers tried to stop me as I jumped in my 69 Camaro. I sped out of the lot burning rubber towards home, all to keep my car from getting damaged. As I was driving home a tornado was following me about 100 yards off to my right, making its way up the North Channel of the St. Clair River. I did what any 18 year old would do, I stepped on the gas. The tornado eventually crossed onto Harsen's Island and did all kinds of damage. I arrived home and my dad asked me if I was crazy and didn't I see the tornado.... Sound familiar? ~


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