We're rolling. Through the Hocking Hills, which is the prettiest part of Ohio I've been in.
But after a few miles, it starts to flatten out and the 1300 miles of lame mid-west begins.
Then we hit 70 and start really moving west. I make it through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and most of the way into Missouri. It's 2am by the time we hit St. Louis, and we've been up since 6. With the 30 miles of racing earlier on, it's been a big day. Just outside of St. Louis we can see lightning. It doesn't look theres anyway we're going to miss that.
Then it hits. Wind blows the tiny convertible all over the road. The lightning cracks and spreads out like a big electric spider. I'm terrified. We're so exposed to the storm out here on the plains. Colleen comforts me by falling asleep.
After another hour, I need to stop for gas. I run into the station through the rain to see if they've heard a forecast. But their satellite has been knocked out. I run back out to the tiny convertible and drive away.
There's a clunk and a scraping noise. I jump out and look behind the car. I drove away with the pump still attached to my gas tank. It's dragging along behind the convertible like a little rubber tail. Whoops. First time thats happened. I run the pump and hose back to the gas station and speed away.
I've been driving for ten hours, and the storm isn't making progress easy. I finally decide to pull off at an abandoned Conoco station. I curl up in a ball in my seat and fall asleep.
Three hours later it's still storming. I crank over the engine and head back out onto 70. 150 miles till Kansas city.
We hit the city and the sky clears. I'm so glad. We stop to eat breakfast in the parking lot of a Holiday in just over the Kansas line. Colleen decides to drive for a while, even though shes never driven a stick shift. I give her a little coaching, and we're off. 420 miles until the Colorado line.
Unlike last year, Kansas is actually pleasant this time. It's only about 85, there's no engine burning my leg, and the tiny convertible gets great air flow. I fall asleep for a little while Colleen drives.
We hit a toll booth and she stalls the engine. Then stalls it again. And again. And again. "Clutch, clutch! Put the clutch in!" I yell. The man in the booth is shaking his fist at us and people behind are honking. She gets it started and pulls through. All good.
We stop at Hays, "Oasis on the Plains," and I drop a Quiznos sandwich on the ground. Dammit. But Kansas is almost behind us.
We cross the big open part of Colorado, then we can see mountains in the distance.
Another few hours, and we're in Boulder. We meet Sam, Deidre, and Anne at the new Valmont Bike Park, and Deidre crushes me by 5 seconds on the 30 second Duel Slalom course. It's sweet to finally be here.