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Day 44, Aug 12, Great Bend, KS.

Alright, I’m feeling it today! A shorter day for Kansas, it was still one of my harder ones subjectively in the state. The last 20 miles saw the headwinds return and the heat ratchet up and I labored into Great Bend. I was feeling sluggish from the start though and think that the long days in the heat are exacting their toll. I am looking forward, as are Beth and Loki (OK, not Loki, but she would look forward if she could), to a day off at a state park, Cross Timbers, at Lake Toronto, KS in a few more days. Tonight though we are parked by a storage building in the city of Great Bend, KS (photo), a similar type of setting to the one last night in Ness City. Our camping arrangements run the gamut.

Having a way station to aspire to is very helpful and energizing when feeling low, but the approach each day continues to be “stay focused and grind”. Sounds familiar I bet to other life arenas, right? Including recovery. The picture of the sunrise this morning is a reminder that even the tough days have their pearls if we will just stop and notice them. Much gratitude for you all.

Day 43, Aug 12, Ness City, KS. Part 1.

It reached 105 degrees today upon finishing the ride about 2:30 in the afternoon after a pleasant 67 degree start and no headwinds (yeah!) I was pleasantly surprised by Rod, a reporter from Scott City, taking pictures while I was riding and then interviewing me for 20”. I appreciate these opportunities as the whole purpose of this trek is to raise awareness and gradually reduce the stigma surrounding SUD. (Anyone with national media connections - please contact me!)

Returning to the heat and headwinds though. Look at a couple of the pictures from the last couple days posted above. Today was 105 degrees and no headwind, yesterday was 98 degrees (yes, still quite hot!) and much of the day had moderate to strong headwinds. Can you tell which day was yesterday and which was today? Can you see the heat or the headwind? If you do any athletics outdoors, you know the greatly increased effort and slower progress involved with running, biking, etc into a headwind, and also how much your performance is reduced by the heat. They are real, even major and determinative factors, and yet you visually do not see them. They are “in the air” and yet invisible.

In the same way, social Stigma is “in the air” surrounding Substance Use Disorder. It conveys the message that someone suffering from SUD is either weak or morally flawed. This acts in the same way on someone wanting and needing recovery as the invisible heat and headwinds on my journey. They can also be major and determinative. It lies embedded in the institutions that intersect with them providing additional resistance to successful progress, a headwind, and handicapping their performance, like high heat. Absent it, equipping and facilitating the recovering and their families becomes the norm and the current substance addiction crisis is more successfully addressed. Much fewer deaths and less suffering result.

“The air quality” can change; there are many examples in this country. Would you help me tip the scales in that direction within your circles of influence? Headwinds are discouraging to ride in, and 105 degree heat is pretty unpleasant, but I’m just riding a stand-up bike, its not near as hard as facing both of these daily trying to navigate real life.

Addiction is a treatable brain disease that disables decision-making.

Day 42, Aug 10, Leoti, CO.

Today I passed two landmarks, entering our 5th state, Kansas, and Crossing soon after into another time zone, CST. The travel wasn’t easy as 2/3’s of it was into a headwind and the temp reached 98 degrees (cooled off from yesterday!) That was offset though by the road quality. As soon as I crossed into Kansas the road surface became silky smooth, not the bumpy macadam with repeated marginal repair attempts with sealer I had become accustomed to, and a good shoulder. Also, passing trucks went out of their way to move into the other lane giving me a wide berth. Some even waved at me. What?! Combined with minimal traffic, I was in Heaven.

So, like other areas of life, including Recovery, I think I’ll celebrate landmarks like State lines, be appreciative of the small graces like smooth pavement with good shoulders, and expect there will be times on rough macadam with strong headwinds.

Addiction is a brain disease.

It disables sound decision-making.

It is treatable.

Community matters.

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