Sunday, August 7, 2022

Day 59-Waiting…Again

We are so lucky that, even though we have to wait until tomorrow morning for me to pick up my new tire, we have a cool place (both literally and figuratively) to hang out in this yet another scorcher of a day. 

Another thing I forgot to mention about yesterday (you wouldn’t think there is that much going on…I mean…Kansas…but really, Kansas is much more than I expected). As I was riding in toward Great Bend, a van approached from the other direction. As it got closer, a guy leaned out waving a bottle of water. Asked me if I wanted some cold water. Well, of course! He handed me the bottle, said to be safe, and drove off. Then turned around and drove by me. That means, he had already passed me, turned around, came back, gave me the water, then turned around again. How amazing is that?!!

I slept until 7:00 this morning. Jeff was already gone when I got up. I ate some breakfast, then decided to go over to the grocery store while it was still cooler out. Of course, I had to go to a Dillon’s (Walmart was closer). We’ve gone through two towns named Dillon, and now a grocery store chain! My son is quite popular!

It’s along the lines of a Safeway. 

As I was riding back, I saw a tandem bike. It had to be John and Donna. I caught up, and sure enough, it was them. They were finishing a morning ride, and heading home so they could be back to the church a little later. 

I loaded my food into my panniers back at the church, and had just sat down to peruse YouTube. Deanne called out to me saying there was a cyclist just pulling up. I thought it couldn’t be Doug yet…it was only 9:15. But, it was Doug! He had left La Crosse at 4:40am! Turns out, he didn’t have the best experience there. He had gone swimming at the pool. When he got back to his bike at the park, a police officer showed up saying some people had reported a strange man at the pool. Really??? Now, I know he’s starting to look a little scruffy…but really??? I bet you anything, if I had been there, that wouldn’t have happened. Maybe they tried to talk to him at the pool, but he couldn’t hear them…didn’t notice. He has to remove his hearing aids to go in the water. I don’t know, but it was disheartening to say the least. He ended up moving to the hotel in town. He woke up early, and decided he wasn’t going to be able to go back to sleep, so he just packed up and left. 

After he took a break, we gathered our laundry, and headed over to the laundromat in town. As I was waiting for the washer to finish, a women kept looking at me. I went over to talk to her. She said I looked familiar. I didn’t see as how that could be since I’m not from here. I told her what we were doing. She asked if I had a YouTube channel. I told her I didn’t, but I had a blog. She wanted to know what it was, so I told her. She looked it up, and said she had seen it before. That’s the first time I’ve run into a stranger who has already seen my blog!

This is Kathy, a blog follower from Kansas! Pretty cool!

We went and got some lunch next door at Subway, then returned to the church. It was already heating up outside, and we wanted to retreat to the coolness of the church. 

I think John and Donna will come back this evening to meet Doug. I’ll hopefully get a photo of them then. 

Now I think I’ll go take a nap…Doug is snoozing already. 

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Day 58-Pushing on to Great Bend…Alone

Don’t get all worried about Doug. I’ll explain in a moment. 

First I have to tell you what happened after yesterday’s early post. I don’t know if I mentioned in the post that there was going to be a softball tournament this weekend (I think I put it in a Facebook post). A woman arrived with a truckload of concessions, and we helped her unload it. She told us there would be cinnamon rolls arriving at 6:00 in the morning. Got us all excited…well, that didn’t happen, but that’s not the amazing thing that happened. 

Just as we were beginning to set up our tents, a woman came by (to check on the plum tree…not ripe yet). Her name was Wanda, and she is the City Clerk. In the hour she sat talking to us, I learned a whole lot about Ness City, and all about her family. If you think I can talk a lot…she’s got me beat for sure! But, that’s also not the amazing thing that happened. 

Doug and I walked up to Pizza Plus for dinner. On the way back, we saw a young girl outside her house. I commented on the heat, asking her if it was warm enough for her. She just laughed. 

We were relaxing in our chairs back at the park when that girl, and two other girls came down to the park with some softball equipment. The three of them came over to talk to us. They were all sisters…Kori (sp?), Riley, and Kat…12, 8, and 6. They were very fun girls. Pretty soon along came mom, Camille. She joined us and we chatted for awhile. She asked where we were going tomorrow. We told her La Crosse because there was a pool, and we would have showers. She then asked if we’d like to take showers. Since we were still roasting in the heat we said we’d love to! So we walked up to their house and took nice showers just before bed! It was so great to get clean (even if only until we started sweating again)! Such an awesome family!

Great girls! It would have been fun to watch Riley play in the tournament. Camille also gave us cookies!

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty great day (even though we didn’t get cinnamon rolls).

Before I go on to today, I just have one more thing about Ness City. As we were getting close, there was a big sign that said, “Skyscraper of the Plains-Kansas Products”. So I was looking for this skyscraper as we came into town. All I saw was the grain elevator. When Doug and I walked to dinner, we walked by the “skyscraper”.

There it is…all 3 1/2 floors!

Okay…onto today. I took off at about 6:45, before Doug as is becoming the usual. 

Another Kansas sunrise. 

Can you see that it says “Christ Pilot Me”? I’m just wondering where the airport is…

Terrain is a changin’. Those are hills out there!

Front yard cows. 

Doug must have had more left to do because he didn’t catch up to me until the rest stop in Alexander, about 18 miles in. As I had been riding, I was thinking I could make it to Great Bend before the bike shop closed at 3:00. I mentioned this to Doug when he arrived at the rest stop. But, I told him he could just go to La Crosse as planned because it was going to be another scorcher, and he doesn’t do well in the heat. We had discovered there was a bike camp in Great Bend, and we wouldn’t have to stay in a hotel. He decided he would go to La Crosse as planned. I was also hoping I could get to Great Bend to the post office before they closed, just to see if maybe my tire had arrived. So, we parted ways at Rush Center, Doug going just 4.5 miles more off route to La Crosse, and me continuing to Great Bend (28 more miles).

The cross wind became more and more strong. Good thing was it was from the south. It made it so the cars/trucks didn’t push me around. It also kept me cooler (but a slightly less crosswind probably would have done the same).

I’d heard about the “Timkin” hills. Yes, there were hills, but really they were just rollers, and they didn’t last too long. Then it was back to flat. 

I was hoping the post office was open until 1:00. Then 1:00 came and went. I was hoping they were open until 3:00. I stopped at the first convenience store in Great Bend for something to drink (it was over 100 degrees). I checked online and found the post office had closed at noon. I’d had no chance. Oh well, the tire probably wasn’t there yet anyway. 

I rolled on to the bike shop, arriving in plenty of time before they closed. Picked up a spare tube and a patch kit. 

As I headed to the Bike Camp, I saw this. 

Cool mural art in Great Bend. 

I found the bike camp. It is provided by the Central Baptist Church. There is a covered shelter, picnic tables, a water pump, sani-can, and a bike fix-it stand. Oh, and trees! The wind is still blowing, but I’m thankful because if it wasn’t, I’d be cooking!

Doug will arrive tomorrow. He’ll just have the 28 miles, so should be here in the morning. I looked online, and my tire is at the post office (if only I could have made it before they closed). So, Monday morning I’ll be there right at 8:30 when they open, to pick it up. I’ll probably ride back to the bike camp to put it on. 

Doug is getting to swim, and enjoy the county fair, but I have a spare tube, patch kit, and peace of mind. 

A gentleman named Dwight stopped by to visit. He told me if I called John and Donna, they would let me into the church where I could sleep out of the heat! I did, and now I’m inside for the night!

I think I’ll put my sleeping pad over against the wall. 

Jeff eventually showed up too. He’s in another room. Still a bit of a strange ranger, but I gotta hand it to him, when he comes into a town, he goes everywhere. Tonight he’s off to the movies. 

Friday, August 5, 2022

Day 57-Another Kansas Town, Another Kansas City Park

Today is supposed to be over 100 degrees, so I actually got up at 5:30 (it was dark). Slowly but surely the sun started its daily rise. 

Good morning from Dighton. 

I headed out a bit before Doug. It was quiet and peaceful at 6:40. 

Ball o’ Fire on the horizon. 

Is this Kansas, or what!

Doug caught up to me at about 5 miles in. 

We had a couple of special features today. One was…a curve in the road!!! It was strange for two miles not heading directly into the sun! But then, we were back to our easterly direction. It was fun while it lasted. The second special feature was something other than flat land. 

See those undulations?

We also went by 3 cemeteries. Two were for people, and one was for farm machinery. 

Where dead farm machinery goes. 

Oops, this one didn’t quite make it all the way to the cemetery. 

We even had a Historical Marker (this day was just full of excitement)! 

Who knew George Washington Carver homesteaded here?

While today’s ride was longer that yesterday in mileage, it was an easier ride. The wind wasn’t really a factor (not a tailwind mind you…just very little wind). We rolled into Ness City at about 10:00. We did the same as yesterday, scoped out the town for a second breakfast restaurant. We ate at the Cactus Cafe. We actually had 3 options of restaurants! 

After a leisurely second breakfast, we rolled a bit more around the town before heading to the park. Doug had asked if there was a barber in town. Nope. We did see a salon, but it wasn’t open. 

There is a pool here, but as you can see, not open. 

We are staying on the other side near the playground equipment. At least there are restrooms, and water pumps. I’ve already soaked myself once. I suspect I will do it more before the day is over. It is hot hot hot!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Day 56-Cyclists Get in Free!

I sure wanted to sleep longer this morning. It doesn’t help that we just entered the Central Time Zone yesterday, so it is dark in the morning until about 6:30. I had set my alarm for 5:30, but fell back asleep until 6:00. Even though today was a very short day, we wanted to take advantage of the cooler morning temps (and slightly less wind). We left Scott City at 7:30.

Humid feeling Kansas morning sunrise. 

Our destination of Dighton was only 24 miles away. One thing we noticed, was there were no longer cattle trucks. Apparently, the feed lots were before Scott City, and along the perpendicular highway in Scott (a bazillion cattle trucks went by the park last night). I’m sure that might change down the road, but for now, it was nice to not have them. 

We rolled into Dighton at 10:15. We scoped out the town for someplace to have second breakfast. At the other end of town, we found the Bowling Alley and Diner. It was open (the diner part) and we were able to get second breakfast. There was a group of older ladies who looked like they were having their weekly/monthly coffee klatch. 

We rolled back to the City Park. There is a swimming pool! It wasn’t open, but it looked like it would open. Sure enough, about noon, a young man arrived. I asked him if the pool was going to open. He said it would open at 1:00. I told him he just made my day!

The best sight ever!

We also checked in with the Sheriff’s office to let them know we were here. I asked about the sprinklers. There were some already running. She didn’t really know the schedule, but she said she didn’t think they watered the entire park every day. We hope we’ll be okay where we are. 

Once the pool opened, we headed over for a swim. It would be $2.50, but the young man said, “Are you biking?” We said we were, and he said, “Oh, bikers don’t pay.” How awesome is that? The pool is open until 7:00. We may go back for more (or at least a shower). There are a number of town kids swimming. It’s great to see all the kid bikes parked out front. They go back to school on the 11th (curiously, the map tells us that Kansas city parks may close after the kids go back to school…hopefully, we’ll be out of Kansas by then).

Just three more days to Great Bend, and my new tire. I got notification that it has shipped. 

That’s about it for today. Tomorrow is a slightly longer day at 31 miles. It’s going to be hotter too. Sadly, we will not have a swimming pool. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Day 55-Kansas Welcomes Us With a Crosswind…

…All Day!

I told Doug last night that I wanted to leave by 6:00 to get a head start on the wind and heat. We knew the wind was going to be coming out of the north all day. At least we could beat some of the heat. I got up at 5:00, and was ready to go by 6:00. Doug was not quite ready (not a surprise…it is still taking him quite a bit longer to get ready than it takes me…yes, I am very efficient, I know…). I told him he would catch up to me, and I rolled out. 

The final morning of Colorado. 

As I suspected, Doug caught up to me quickly (this always happened on the AT too).

At 13 miles in for the day we came to the Kansas State Line. 

Look at the difference in road surface. So much better on the Kansas side!

The bikes…

The people. 

Even though the wind was not at all helpful, the spacing of towns with services was quite helpful. Our first Kansas town was Tribune. We hit that 30 miles in for the day just before 9:00…mid-morning snack time!

Yes, that’s all for me! I packed out the small Gatorade. 

21 miles later we came to Leoti. In the meantime, we crossed time zones again to the Central Time Zone. 

In Leoti, it was now lunchtime, so we stopped at a convenience store that had hot food too (and tables). We got some lunch, and shared a table with a gentleman named Brent. He could not fathom why we would want to ride our bikes across the country. He said he rides motorcycle, but still wouldn’t want to ride across the country. I thought to myself, I couldn’t fathom living in Leoti, Kansas! 

Oh, I forgot to mention that this morning my front tire was flat. I inflated it, spun it around, and it seemed to hold air. Well, just before I got to the CS in Leoti, the tire was really soft. I pumped it up, but when we came out after lunch, it was loosing air. I thought maybe as I started riding, it would seal (it looked like a very small puncture). 

We headed out of town. Doug went by me, and shortly after that, the tire was really soft again. I pulled over, and pumped it again, this time letting the sealant sit  over the puncture for awhile. Started riding, and nope, not holding air. I then put a plug in. Pumped it up, and took off. Again, going flat. I could see a driveway to a house that had trees for some shade. I pulled off into the shade, stripped the bags off the bike, flipped him upside down, took the wheel off, and…put in a tube. It was interesting, I had put more sealant in in Dillon. That was about a week ago. There was no sealant in the tire. It was as if it had evaporated in the heat (maybe???).

I got everything put back together, and rolled on through the heat and crosswinds. Both Doug and I figured out which semis give you a big push (cattle trucks give the most) from behind, and which ones, oncoming, almost bring you to a standstill (anything that doesn’t have a faring…so most of them). For those, you just have to hunker down, and hang on!

I didn’t take many photos, but here’s a few. 

USBRS 76 is completely signed in Kansas. 

Seems appropriate…

Seems not appropriate…

Cool bike sculpture in Marienthal, a town that has nothing except a bakery (building behind the sculpture). I didn’t stop, surprisingly. 

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally rolled into our destination of Scott City. Doug was waiting on the corner of 96 and Main St. We rolled to the city park. I called the police to let them know we were here. They, in turn, call the city works department to have them shut off the sprinklers. There are restrooms, but no showers, of course. Sink bath again. There was also very little toilet paper. For $1 I bought a six pack at the Dollar General store across the road. 

Just down the road is a Subway. We went there for dinner. Kansas Subway…check!

Before we went to dinner, I ordered a new front tire to be sent to Great Bend, KS post office (the one closest to the route). I wasn’t able to get the tire I wanted, but I got a Schwalbe Marathon (I wanted the Almotion tubeless). I’ll have to run it with a tube, but that’ll be better than the Rene Herse tire. I’m just hoping my lucky horseshoe will allow me to make it to Great Bend. The soonest I could get it delivered is August 8th. That means we will have 4 short mileage days to Great Bend. With the wind and, more so, the heat, that’s probably not a bad thing. Besides, we’ve been pushing big miles these last few days. Today was 76 miles. We’ll still aim for an early start so we can finish before it gets too hot. Tomorrow is a headwind…yay.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Day 54-How Hot is It?

It’s so hot that my fruit snacks melted and congealed into one big sticky blob in the package in my handlebar bag. Okay, it’s not really that hot (I mean, my fruit snacks did melt and all that), but it was definitely upper 90s. 

We left Ordway at 7:00. The guys wanted this group photo. 

Me, Doug, Ron, Quan, and Jeff (Vic, who I met this morning, took the photo)

The winds were light, and the temp was 70. We made quick work of the 5 miles to Sugar City, and just rode right through. 

Good morning to more nothingness. We actually made a couple of curves to get out of Sugar City, but then it was a mostly straight ride on Hwy 96. The pavement was really smooth for a long time!

At Arlington (a no services blip on the map), there was a sign saying chip sealing was starting today. Oh…yay! I hoped they hadn’t really started, but they had. The flagger motioned us through, and told us to ride on the shoulder…the left shoulder. 

Reminded me of riding the Nullarbor in Australia. 

They had laid gravel down on the other lane. Actually, it worked out pretty good riding on the other side of the road. Well, it was a little nerve wracking when the traffic started coming from the other direction, but they moved over. 

We pulled into our planned destination of Eads after 61.5 miles. It wasn’t even noon yet. We went to the little market and got something to drink. We took it back to the city park (where we would camp). 

It was a nice park. The restrooms, however, were on the other side of the train tracks at the rest area (notice how green the grass is. That means one thing…sprinklers!

We kind of ate lunch (mostly rehydrated), and I looked at the map. It was just another 27ish miles to Sheridan Lake where cyclists were allowed to stay in the church. I broached the idea of going on to Sheridan Lake to Doug. I don’t think he was all that enthusiastic. He was just sure the wind was going to turn and become a headwind (we’d had tailwinds). In the end, he agreed, so we tanked up on water, and headed out for Part 2. 

Just out of Eads, there was more road construction. 

Lots of space to ride! The white pavement was a bit glaring though. 

My goal was head down, and pedal, to hammer out these 27 miles before the wind changed. At most, it ended up being a following crosswind. It was quite toasty too, so I was less inclined to stop (the breeze while riding helps to keep cooler). It was when I stopped to change to the next map panel that I discovered my fruit snacks were melted. I managed to get one gooey handful in my mouth, then pushed on. 

I got to Sheridan Lake, and the turn into town (interesting aside…usually when we go through a town, the highway just goes through…often becoming “Main St”. With these towns we’ve been going to, the town is off the highway with Main St being perpendicular to the highway. You have to watch to see where to turn off the highway). I waited for Doug. Fortunately, he was just 5 or so minutes behind, because it was hot standing out in the sun! 

We rode to the church. There was a sign on the door for “Bikers”. The door was unlocked, and we made ourselves at home. Pastor Ernie came over from his office when he heard our voices. Asked if we had any questions, and told us to help ourselves to any of the food. 

There’s no shower here, but I was able to do a pretty good job in the restroom sink. 

See my bed over in the corner? Home Sweet Home for tonight. 

We ended up setting a new distance record of 89 miles. And we finished at 3:30! Of course, that just says how flat it is out here. Tomorrow, we should cross into Kansas. 


Monday, August 1, 2022

Day 53-Feels Like Kansas, But It’s Still Colorado

The only real hills today were getting into (downhill) and out of (uphill) Pueblo. The rest was pretty flat. 

We stopped in Pueblo for a good resupply from the King Sooper. We haven’t bought that much food for awhile, as we didn’t want to carry too much food over the Passes. That’s all done now. In this resupply, due to the heat, I have prioritized non-cooking options for dinners. Think lots of avocados…

As we left Pueblo, there was road construction on the highway. The outside lane and shoulder had been ground and were grooved pavement. Still, it was the safest place to ride…until the construction truck came barreling toward us. We got onto the shoulder. Fortunately, it wasn’t for very long. 

Our own lane…sort of. 

Out into the nothingness that looks and feels like Kansas, but is still Colorado, we had a bit of a tailwind. 

Wide open space!

At Boone, we stopped for lunch at the park in progress. 

Picnic shelters are up. Restrooms are available. Now they just need to plant some grass (sprinkler heads were in too). 

After lunch, our next town was Olney Springs. Supposedly, there was a convenience store. As we stopped to see where this store was, a woman pulled up in her car and asked if we needed water. We said yes, so she parked, and let us into the town hall to get water from the water cooler. Her name was Diane, and she was the mayor of Olney Springs. She asked us what we, as cyclists, would want to have in the town. We gave her a few suggestions, and she wrote them down. She was also going to contact Adventure Cycling to let them know the CS was no longer open. Really nice woman. It was because of my lucky horseshoe that she happened to pull up right as we did!

The town hall

They seem bike friendly. 

From there it was 11 miles to Ordway. After Crowley, we went past the fourth prison in two days. Apparently, incarceration is big business in this part of Colorado. 

The Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility off in the distance. 

We went to the city clerk’s office in Ordway to pay our $5 to camp at the city park. It was $5 total. The showers at the Ordway Hotel were more expensive at $10, but again, worth it after a hot day in the sun. 

There are actually 6 of us in Ordway tonight. Three Westies, and three of us eastbounders. Quan, Vic (we didn’t meet Vic), and Ron have been riding together the past two days. But, Ron has to wait in Pueblo for a new set of tires as he has a bubble in one of his. Hopefully, he’ll make the 50 ish miles to Pueblo. 

Quan just graduated from MIT. Really nice guy. 

Quan, Doug and I (check out my hair now!)

The other eastbound guy is Jeff. He’s kind of been doing a mixture of Trans Am and his own thing. It wouldn’t bother me to not see him again. 

As the sun goes down in Ordway, the smell of cow permeates the warm air, and the mosquitoes have joined the flies in antagonizing us. Time to retreat to the tent. Goodnight!