The OBOBs slept in today (woke at 6 a.m. and didn't hit the road until 7:30). Ate a leisurely breakfast at the high school. Just as we got our bikes ready to roll, it began to rain. We postponed our departure about five minutes while we waited out the storm. That little rain squall, and the surrounding dark skies, set the tone of today's ride - never did hit my stride. The entire 49 miles felt like exercise (ick!)
Although the surrounding farms and countryside were just as beautiful as the preceding days, I struggled to find the joy in traveling through them. About 8 miles into the ride, we turned onto a stretch of road that was under construction. For four miles we rode on a half-finished pavement job. The road crew had gotten to the point where they create a texture for the next layer of pavement. The road was also wet from the rain, so it was a very unpleasant surface to travel. No sweet spots to be found anywhere. (The photo doesn't do just to the pain the rough surface inflicted upon our hands and backsides.)
We continued on toward Garnett on a smooth secondary road, but still no sunshine -- no joy. Worked through the rolling hills, which are getting steeper as we head toward the Missouri border. Finally we hit a flat stretch where I started to find a good, fast pace, and my mood started to improve. Then I got a glimpse of a beautiful hayfield with the sun beaming down highlighting the freshly bailed hay. Had to stop to take a photo of the image that helped me turn my mood around. Then a car pulled up slowly and a man yelled out the window, "taking a photo of my hay bails?" Said I thought they were beautiful and asked him his name so I could credit him on my blog. David Hershberger, he said, then told me his brother was riding in BAK this year. So, thanks David Hershberger for working hard to bail your hay, and for setting them out in that field perfectly so they'd brighten up my day!
Took a break at the SAG stop just down the road a piece and put my feet up as I munched on apples with peanut butter. It was only 13 miles from that stop on into Garnett, for which I was grateful. Although today's mileage was much shorter than the last three days, it seemed more arduous than normal.
Road kill count: 1 squirrel, 1 rabbit, 1 frog
Live creatures of note: snapping turtle, skunk, elk
Wind speed: 10-15 from the east
Educational metaphor: The actual mileage of today's ride should not have been difficult for me given my training and this week's schedule. Yet I struggled to absorb the surroundings, and lacked the energy to feel confident in my riding. I'm fairly certain the reason was related to my physical fatigue, the rain, lack of sunshine, and the poor road condition on the 4 mile stretch. Basically it was the context or the environment of the ride that impacted my ability to handle what was required. It struck me that our high school students walk into school every day to learn new material, and to think creatively and critically, yet educators don't often know the context or environment in which the students bring with them each day. Teenage hormones aside, they come with a host of different family and home situations: financial stresses, addiction, abuse, divorce, bullying, etc. How can we, as educators, work to understand and work around the varied circumstances that our students deal with daily? Circumstances that make an enormous difference in their ability to absorb and engage with new material. Just as I identified this struggle on my ride today, we must work to meet our students where they are -- not where we expect them to be.
Tomorrow is the last day of Bike Across Kansas. It will be a challenging ride with many hills. While I'm physically exhausted, I am sad at the thought that this journey will end.