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Alarm went off at 7 am as usual, picked up camp quickly to avoid any neighbors realizing there is a vagrant next door.  Moved everything over to the picnic tables and proceeded to set up the computer to pay some bills.  Technical issues ensued and caused me to shake my fists in the air once or twice, but in the end it was done and I could move on.

Pulled out my bike clothes for the day (that I washed two days ago) and wow what is that stench?!?!?!  Ewww.  Lesson learned, don’t wash clothes in muddy river, check.  Took them over to the hose and washed them again.  Guess my riding clothes will dry as I wear them.

Finally got on the bike at 8:40 and as I went to pull out, Louisville to Windsor, MO 002John stoped me and wanted to chat about my trip.  Ok, he couldn’t care less what I’m up to he just found a new ear to bend.  25 minutes later I wedged in a ‘nice talking with you but a lot to do today’ and off I go.  He did give me one piece of info, a breakfast joint.  Stopped in and loaded my carbs.  Now it’s ten o”clock.  So in 3 hours I had ridden a total of 11 minutes and not all in the direction I needed to go.

Finally got some miles under my belt and arrived at the “locals detour” just outside of Fremont and sure enough it was perfect.   I was back on route 2 with no extra miles.  Thanks BK guy!! Stopped at the big Conoco at the bridge closure to have a drink and look back at the closure I had so surely defeated.  Felt pretty good about myself for that one.

After the long couple of days I was having a hard time making quick headway so I had to just resign myself to the pace and get the job done.  Picked up a little tailwind in the afternoon and that helped.  Making some changes to my eating habits to focus more on carbs and less on proteins and electrolytes, hopefully that will help too.  I suppose the less than perfect evening meal last night didn’t really help either.

Another milestone today, I crossed into Missouri.  The area is a beautifully green landscape with trees Louisville to Windsor, MO 001and farmland, certainly more my preference for personal visual enjoyment.  Shade to sit under on breaks, lots of wildlife and for the first time two nights ago, fire flies.  I hadn’t seen them in years.  Brought back so many memories of home.

Stopped at a store on the way out of Harrisonville, MO to get a bit of lunch and a cold drink.  While I was there two guys came in on bikes.  They had just left the Katy so I was all over them for information, especially a better way across St. Louis.  Better yet, a way to totally avoid it.  But they weren’t from the area and couldn’t help. Bummer.  44 miles to my destination off I go again.Louisville to Windsor, MO 004

Stopped in Leeson at Jody’s Diner about 12 miles out of Windsor, my destination for today. I wrote this from my dinner table wholly ignoring my food.  Everyone that walked in looked at me for a second then said, “where ya headin’” I tell them, then the questions rollout.  Dinner was a 3 hour mixture of typing, eating and telling the story at least 8 times, it’s very fun to see there reaction, then they get thinking and truly  seem interested in the adventure.

I have been having a hard time keeping the laptop charged without regular hotel stops, so I’ve been trying to get everything done while I eat, if I can find a plug near a seat.  I do get the constant looks as the sweaty guy in the corner pounds on the keyboard of a laptop with the wires and gadgets plugged in all over.

12 miles to go to the Katy Trail, Woo Hoo. should be about 75 for the day.

I’m sure you all have read how nice people have been, get this:

The folks at this restaurant I’ve been sitting in for 3 hours have just done it again.  A patron who was asking about the trip called a friend in Winsor and got me a room and shower at a friends’.  Then when I went to pay the bill I handed them my credit card but they don’t take them.  So Tim, the owner, says don’t worry about it send me a check when you get a chance.  Think that would happen in  California?

Thanks Jody and Tim and the entire town of Leeson.  Great hospitality!!

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Alarm went off at 7 am, I know it’s not very early, whatever.  Took forever to get camp picked up and food cooked.  Hit the road about 9am.  1.5 miles into the ride I stopped at the grocery store for some more carbs and a nice cold drink of milk.  While I was eating my bounty outside a local struck up a conversation.  In the end, I found out the road that I intend on riding, route 2, in Missouri has a bridge that is closed due to construction and the detour is a bit long, like 30 miles, Huh???  Still need to solve that one.Council Grove to Louisburg, MO 001

Got underway again and started checking off the miles.  Eastern Kansas is a nice blend of rolling hills and very straight roads.  The trees are becoming thicker and and the various crops are beginning to look as if they were cut out of the forest rather than plopped arbitrarily in the empty plains.

Came around a thick tree line dividing two fields and scared a coyote, actually it was mutual.  He took off down the edge of the trees and kept looking over his shoulders at me and I kept going looking over my shoulder a him.  Was pretty funny looking back at it.Council Grove to Louisburg, MO 004

I’m on a route not frequented by cyclists, in fact the girl at the Pizza Hut said I was the first she had seen in the restaurant.  It shows a bit in the way drivers deal with the interruption.  Out of Salina I am taking a series of roads that take me directly to Clinton, MO to pickup the Katey Trail.  Today I arrived at route 68.  It is much busier than predicted and there is no shoulder.  Most people have been very generous but there is not a lot of room.

Stopped in Ottowa for some ice cream.  It’s a fairly big town with lots of traffic and kids running around.  Decided to stay for a while and type this entry, avoid the heat and hopefully see the traffic diminish before heading back out again. 

Here’s the question… If I leave this town there is nothing for 32 miles but I have 105 miles to the Katey and I would like to get there tomorrow.  Its 6:30 now I can probably get another 20 miles in before it gets dark but I will be in the middle of nowhere.  Not a problem in the large scheme, but I do like to scrape a layer of dirt before bed.  Hmmmm… What would you do, what do you think I going to do??

The decision and fallout:

Well, at 6:50 I decided to get going, just then Cyndy called and I spent 25 minutes doing tech support on the A/C.  7:15 and I’m out to the bike, headed up a short hill and looked over my shoulder at the sun.  My was it low.  Did a couple of circles in the road… pointed it east.  figured I would get another 10 in and stop for the night before the sun was all the way down.

Started cranking out the miles and found the evening air to be enjoyably cool and still.  I was making good time, why not go all the way to Louisburg?  I can get a hotel there, charge everything up and get a shower and a good nights’ sleep.  Mounted up the lights as the sun went down and kept pedaling.  Did I mention 68 was busier than I expected?  Although the drivers were very generous I did feel a bit uneasy, but off I went.  I had decided on Louisburg and that’s were I was going.

When I was well under way, I thought, Hmmm let’s see what Alice says about accommodations in Louisburg.  Guess I should have thought about that sooner… there are no accommodations in Louisburg.  Nope, not even a campground.  Trying to stay optimistic I focused on getting there and the fact that Alice is not always right about small facilities.  Surely there will be something there, even if it requires some Raid to be comfortable.

Pedal, pedal, pedal, hey there’s the town and they have stop lights, surely they must have a hotel, right.  It was 9:45 at this point and I was in no mood to fuss with cooking so I stopped at Burger King (I know).  Got my “food” and chatted with the folks behind the counter for a while and they agreed no place to stay.  But directed my to some locals in the shop.

I interrupted 4 couples and after I convinced them I was on a bike and I was sane, mostly, and they gave me some static, they provided me some good advice about a campground 8 miles (really 11 miles) from town.  They also warned me about the bridge that was out right after the campground (remember my conversation back in Council Grove).  Turns out the detour is some 35 miles out of the way.  Again, Huh?!?!

Of course now I am looking for alternatives, is the bridge somewhat intact, can I get across during working hours, how about after hours, how big is the “river”, can I walk across it, is there a better detour.  I am convinced now that I have no choice but to ride to the bridge tonight and cross while no work is being done… but the campground is on this side of the bridge.  Uhg, no perfect solution.

But then, out of now where superman, the guy behind the counter is from that exact area and he has the locals detour.  No extra miles and open all day.  I’m saved, now I have options.

As I left BK I was off to cover the 11 miles to the Fremont campground, but I was tired and it was late and I really didn’t want to ride any more.  As I reluctantly pedaled through town I passed a church on the right, hmmmm no room, but look right across the street another church, set back with a great back yard and more good news, a hose.  I heard the angels sing “alleluia”.  Went out to the picnic tables and went about setting up for the night.  Hose shower/laundry, mmmm cool and wonderful, out for the night.

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10 August, 2009

Slept great in the back of the “camper”.  Was woken by the alarm at 7am and got right on the road… after a little MickyD’s breakfast.  Paid for that all day.

Arrived at the rental car place at 9 am, right on schedule.  Repacked my bags, hung them on the bike and worked my way out of town via the residential streets thanks to Alice.  Joined Old highway 81 then hung a left on state route 4.  The route started off busy, not because of traffic, but because of construction blocking the right side of the road.  Before too long I was beyond the town and construction.  The road turned into the familiar Kansas conditions that we had enjoyed so far. 

About 20 miles out I noticed a large black sky developing to the north west. I didn’t think much about the cloud other than, “better keep an eye on it so I can make a decision on action if necessary”.  While I was conscious of the weathers’ presents, I had no speed/direction information.  It looked to be a couple of hundred miles out so I guessed 30 MPH, so I had plenty of time.

Twenty eight miles out I went through the little town of Gypsum.  One guy getting into his car yelled over that the storm was coming and that I needed to be careful.  I flippantly said I was hoping to outrun it.  Another guy pulled over a few hundred yards ahead and gave me the same warning, with the addition of hail… That got my attention.

It still looked to be well to the northwest and I calculated that I had a couple of hours of riding before it would catch me so I continued on.  About 45 minutes later I was being run down like a squirrel on the highway.Salina to Council Grove, KS 002

The leading edge was approaching fast and it was dark.  As it got very close it turned this ominous greenish/blue, I was now nervous. I had just passed a house and was climbing a hill to look over the peak for cover when I decided it was just too close for comfort.  I turned around and headed back for the house I had just passed.  The winds were picking up quickly and when I turned I would estimate 25 to 35 (darn, first tail wind in days) out of the west.  I took refuge on the patio of the house and knocked on the door, no one home.  Went out to the barn, still no one.   No problem the porch would give me the cover I needed as long as the wind direction didn’t change during the storm.

I setup my bike under the patio and unpacked my Salina to Council Grove, KS 003 goodies to snack on then took up residency on the patio chair giving me a front row seat to the show.  I alternated between sitting and wandering around the side of the house to watch the progress of the storm while munching my goodies.  The panic stop was critical, 5 minutes after stopping. this storm came through with hurricane force winds, 80-90 MPH according to the local weather folk.  At the time I was thinking wow it’s really blowing out there when I guess I should have been thinking “is there a tornado associated with this?”.  Salina to Council Grove, KS 007 

When the storm arrived it had a very vertical front and it went out the same way.  The back of the storm was a giant horse shoe with a vertical wall and when it passed there was not a cloud to be seen behind it.  Anyway it was just a big bag of wind and not much rain and it blew through in less than an hour.  I was back on the road.

Shortly after returning to the road I began to wonder if I could have stayed out and enjoyed a 80 mph tail wind?  I wonder how far I could have gotten at the speed I would have reached. 

There are communication relay stations regularly placed beside the roads we have been riding.  Nothing more than small concrete buildings with power service and gensets outside.  They all look exactly the same with the same configuration.  Well today I passed two or three more of these after the storm and all those generators where running.  So there was a huge swath of geography with no power as a result of the wind.

As I continued, I saw knocked down trees and power lines for the entire length of my ride.   I arrived in Hope with an well earned hunger so I stopped at the only place to eat, another little gas station/fast food joint.  The C/O out back was still running on generator and power had just been restored to the town.  There would be no pizza for me because I was too impatient to wait 20 minutes for the oven to re-warm.  So I microwaved a sandwich sucked it down and went on my way.

Arriving in Council Grove around 6pm, I spoke to the local police and they directed me out to the local lake for a camping spot.  The workers were already out cleaning up the streets and other areas of downed trees/branches and there were a lot of them.

I headed out where I was directed and road down a dirt road to arrive below the dam.  It was a nice quiet spot with a small grove a trees and turf for me to pitch in.  Like town and much of the ride today, this park is covered with downed trees/branches, in fact my spot is surrounded by broken branches.  I have no idea if I’m in the right area, I am up against the dam as directed but this is definitely not a campground.  I’ll just continue to practice being invisible and call it a night. 

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8-9 august, 2009

The days’ activities were suppose to be logistics, visiting and resting before Cyndy headed back to Sacramento for a couple of weeks of reality.  So we needed to get Cyndy’s bike packed and going to Niagara Falls and make our way to Denver.

Scurried out first thing on Saturday and packed the bike into the case.  Certainly didn’t look like everything would fit, but Denver 013 with a little disassembly and squeezing, it went in and we got the straps closed without putting an eye out.  Then it was off to the UPS store to send it on it’s way.  Got a rude awakening when the bill to send it was $150.00  The case cost $45 to get to Pueblo, didn’t really expect an additional 40 lbs would cost $100.00!!  To make matters worse I found some very unflattering reviews of the bike shop in NY that it was going to.  Anyway it’s off.

Now on to some fun.  We went back to visit the Garden Denver 017of The Gods, which is a nice stone formation on the west side of town.  As usual we did the ‘National Lampoon’ quick look and photographs and off we went again.

Headed up to Manitou and the cog train.  Drove up to the walking path that goes to the top of Pikes Peak.  Cyndy’s friend Dianne will be runningDenver 019 a marathon on that trail in a  couple of weeks… glad it’s not me, those runners are crazy, wink, wink.

Headed back down the hill  to the town of Manitou where Cyndy took a little time to look around the town while Steve caught a nap in the car.  Cyndy came back about an hour later, perfect timing, and announced that they have natural springs just like New Hampshire.  So we filled our bottles with the cool goodness of pure mountain spring water with the added bonus that it was naturally sparkling.

By this time we needed to get going up to Denver where we visited Paul and Karen LeFever.  They are long time family friends of Cyndy and family.  We spent the rest of the day catching upDenver 004 with them and viewing our tour web site a little.  Of course we could tell stories for hours but there were things to see.  We headed over to a local lake were Paul is the outdoor facilities/activities manger (something like that right Paul?)  We toured the facility and then went for a short cruise around the lake in the marina boat.  Was very nice to be on the water for both of us.

The next day we went to the REI in Denver, what a spectacular store, they even have a white water course  to demo kayaks.  But Steve was in search of a chain.  Turns out the spare chain we’veDenver 003 been hauling around for a month is too short.  Would have worked in a pinch but not while we have the resources of Denver at hand.

We ran up to Boulder afterward for lunch at this little place called the Sink.  Then toured a little more… maybe a little too much.  Got  back to their house at 5pm.  A bit late for Cyndy’s 7pm flight that was 45 minutes away.  But in the end everything worked out the flight was a few minutes late and Cyndy made it by the skin of her teeth.

Steve pointed the rental car back to Salina, KS, 400 miles away where he will resume the ride.  Departing the Airport in Denver, his goal was to get within two hours of Salina, KS.  A quick calculation and he had to drive until 12am, no problem.  Zooming along at slightly above the wonderful 75 MPH speed limit he reached Hays, KS right at 12am, 90 miles out of Salina.

Pulled off the highway to find a place to stay and what is there to see but a Wal-Mart.  For those non-campers out there, Wal-Mart allows people to camp in the parking lot overnight.  Drove through the lot and found 10-15 others, mostly motor homes but some vans, and that’s exactly what Steve had planned for himself, sleeping in the back of the old PT Cruiser.  The parking lot was very well lit so he went around back and found a Semi Trailer to park behind to block out some of the light.  Kicked out the bike and cooler, through down the pad and out like a light.

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7 August, 2009

Today is the beginning of a transition for our tour.  As most of you know Cyndy was not able to get the time off to complete the full tour so she needs to be back in Sacramento on Monday for work.  So we rented a car and will be back tracking to Pueblo to pick up the bike case so her bike can be shipped forward then we’re on to Denver to ship Cyndy back to Sac (no box to ship her in).

We’re back tracking because we planned to make Pueblo in 4 weeks, 50 miles a day worst case planning.  But we did much better, arriving in Pueblo 7 days ahead of schedule even with taking a couple of side trips in the high country of Colorado.  Cyndy wished to continue and Steve certainly didn’t mind the company making forward progress so off we went.  Salina, KS was 400 miles out and reachable in the 6 days we had to ride and had a sufficient supply of rental cars to allow us to handle logistics.  Would have liked to have made it to Kansas City but head winds prevented us from going that far.

So after this weekend Steve will be driving back to Salina to continue on to Niagara Falls on his own while Cyndy resumes her responsibilities on the home front. At least for a couple of weeks.  She will rejoin Steve in Niagara Falls and finish the last 600 miles with him.

We ran into The Great Divide bike shop (they have been holding the bike case) 45 minutes before closing to find out they couldn’t pack the bike until tomorrow afternoon.  Surely not going to work, a little repacking and the case is in the back of the car along with our two bikes and all the bags.  We’ll get to cramming the bike into the case tomorrow.

We also ran to the REI in Colorado Springs to get the tent pole repaired so we can use the tent again.  It broke the other morning when we were getting up at Elaine’s in Bazine, KS.  They had everything it needed and did the work for free.  Also let Steve use a pedal wrench to remove Cyndy’s pedals (on her bike, Cyndy doesn’t actually have pedals), one less thing to do tomorrow. Yay, REI!!

We proceeded to drive up and down route 25 to find dinner and a hotel.  Back and forth over the same stretch of highway.  Had dinner at a local brew pub.  Good eats and Steve had fun bantering with the waitress. Found a room in Colorado Springs at the America’s best value Inn, seems to be our favorite compromise.

Today has reconfirmed a few things:

  • We are retracing our route via car with the bikes jammed in the back of the PT Cruiser.  We sure did travel a long way by bike. 
  • There is plenty of open space in our country out here. 
  • Travelling by car is a whole lot faster but not necessarily more comfortable (we much prefer to be active!!) 
  • There is actually 15 miles of railroad cars abandoned (stored) on the tracks in one section and another stretch of a mile. 
  • Now that we are without helmets it is noted that Steve has turned into a long haired hippie. 
  • We do appreciate air conditioning. 
  • We have actually heard on the radio some of the songs that have played in our head for a month. 
  • We like the ice cream place in Sheridan Lake and enjoyed revisiting the store for one more cone.
  • We’ve had enough of DQ
  • We really enjoy the small towns, even the ones with 54 people.

Some other interesting Stuff:

We saw an old single wheeled trailer (single wheel in back that pivots, two hitch points) that brought back childhood memories for Steve.

We bought a styrofoam cooler packed with ICE, a gallon of milk and snacks to make sure we could offer some to passing bikers.  Have only seen two cyclists to offer them goodies and both refused.  So we are eating the snacks.

Each of these small towns has a grain silo as a part of their town skyline,  it also helps in identifying the location.

Oh my, as I write this we just had to take a moment to Denver 011 clean up our wonderful cooler that just ended up upside down as Steve took a turn…so much for my ice, guess we won’t be using the ice to fill up our bottles now that it is back in the cooler off the rental car floor and door pocket!

Steve was right, The hot prairie does look much better from the comfort of an air conditioned car going 80… oh, I mean 55.

After watching the weather channel for four and a half hours and with  checkout time looming, we decided to take the plunge, perhaps literally.  By the time we got under way it was a little after 11 am.  Although the ground was still covered in puddles, we stayed dry thanks to our tire fenders and it never rained again.  It was a mild challenge departing town on the partially completed streets with construction, barriers and sand all over.  We were even detoured onto the sidewalk in a number of places.  Surely this wouldn’t last long and it didn’t.  The town was the largest we’ve seen since Pueblo, Cyndy kept wondering what we missed in here, any sights to see?Bazine to Salina, KS 004

Just east of town our route took us off Hwy 96 on to 156.  Some non-riders we spoke to in Great Bend had winced at the idea of riding on 156, saying it was a highway and they were right.  It was a beautiful highway with a nice wide shoulder and smooth surfaces.  It made for a great riding experience.  We stopped at the Cheyenne Bottoms wetlands, not too many miles out of Great Bend, to enjoy the view and a snack.  The sparrows had made a colony on the underside of the patio cover,  there was quite an exodus when we pulled up.  We only stayed long enough to read the plaques and munch a little, for the birds’ and our sake.

A short time later we found a service station in Holyrood (no not Hollywood) where we went in for a drink.  All eyes were on us as we walked through that door…we weren’t from around here for sure!  Somehow the ice broke and folks finally chatted with us and they turned out to be quite nice.Bazine to Salina, KS 009  Don’t miss the smoking in public places thing at all and don’t realize how nice its absence is until you run into it.

On we traveled with the winds staying much calmer than predicted.  The landscape turned much greener and hillier with more and more trees and lots of grazing land around.  We still get a kick out of the cows in the fields.  Every single one will stare us down as we pass by. There were several in a corn patch that looked as guilty as a kid with their hand in the cookie jar. 

As we continued along Steve decided we needed a break to check tire inflation (hadn’t been checked in a week, tisk, tisk).  While we were pumping along a guy turned around to check on us.  His daughter had just completed Ragbrea and was interested in making sure we had all that we needed.  The kind generosity that we always appreciate.

At Ellsworth, about 50 miles out we stopped at another diary Queen for ice cream.  Cyndy is sorry to say their soft serve just isn’t up to par.  While Cyndy was being unhappy with her ice cream Steve did more online research and reserved a rental car.  While he was online his Dad Skyped him so he went outside to chat.  When Cyndy joined him outside the agenda negotiations continued. We had been trying to decide if we were going to continue the last 28 miles into Salina or stay in this town.  We decided to finish up the ride.  Surprising to Steve thinking that Cyndy would want to savor the last of the trip.  It will be nice to get into the car having had a shower.Bazine to Salina, KS 017

Made the turn onto route 40 east, a road that continued to present great surface conditions.  The 28 miles to Salina was a nice mix of rolling hills and green valleys with cattle and goats and tall trees that helped reduce the cross wind.  We took a right on west Crawford St. for the last 3 miles.  This road was exciting as we anticipated pulling into Salina, the town being the (approximate) geographic center of the country, according to the locals and Cyndy’s stopping point for this portion.  This is also where Steve picks up alone.  Mixed feelings about the transition but there is too much to do to get to focused on it.

Stopped in a truck stop just west of the route 135 overpass at a truck stop to get our bearings.  Made some phone calls and arranged a hotel right over the highway.  Also spent some time debriefing to a couple of gentlemen who where interested in our trip.

Come too find out the motel was right across the street from Enterprise rental agency, how unexpected.

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Well, was it the early alarm or the lightening and thunder that awoke us?  So much for beating the wind and making the dash towards Salina.  So, rolled back over and kept one eye on the weather channel.  We are so thankful that we are not in a tent right now as it is pouring down rain!  We washed the bikes last night, what did we expect would happen?!?!?

Big Bend, KS 001

There has been a rhythm to our days that is unlike any other experience.  There is routine but also flexibility that takes into account the weather and terrain.  Cyndy feels as thought she is dancing behind Steve some days, following his back wheel just like following a dance lead.  There is the exhilaration when the road is smooth, just cruising and the miles fly by.  Other times can be more challenging like rough roads, cracks, debris, cross winds, less forgiving vehicles or trucks topped off with gravel or cow…one can only guess what will coat our water bottles and arms sticking to skin covered with sunscreen!

We’ve been watching the weather channel radar since 6am, it’s looking good for an 11am departure, which is also our checkout time.  It’s very comforting to have a couple of days buffer so that we have options and are not forced to head out in the foulest of conditions.

After waking before 6 am to a calm morning at the farmhouse Cyndy went to unzip the tent and snap, the top pole cracked!  Good that we only have one more overnight on the road before our return to Denver for Cyndy’s flight back to Sacramento.    Looks like a trip to REI en route to the airport is in order.  Oh well on with our day.

Dan, our host, had gone out to the fields this morning to pick fresh corn for us and Elaine boiled it up.  Fresh corn on the cob, blueberries and cereal for breakfast.  Steve got his own quart of milk, not much better than that.  Our hosts, the Johnsons, were so nice and down to earth.  It was a pleasure to share our morning with them.  Although we needed to move on we couldn’t leave before playing with the golden retrievers.Bazine to Big Bend, KS 001

By the time we were ready to go at 8 am there was a fog that had rolled in and the winds had picked up.  This was our first exposure to high humidity for this trip. 

The folks on the tandem didn’t wait for us to leave this morning.  They were on their own schedule.  It’s too bad, because of the wind it was pretty much it was a heads down and pedal day.  Another rider would have been nice to share the load with.  We hit light rain for a short time this morning and the cooling was actually welcomed.  Bazine to Big Bend, KS 002

On the way too Rush City we caught up to the Tandem and a short time later we arrived in the town, a four corners actually.  We were all counting on a snack stop here but contrary to documentation, there was no food or drink available, so we ate what we had and whined a bit.   Small towns can be deceptive in terms of whether or not there are services. 

As we sat at this corner eating, we new full well that this was a huge transition for us.  This was the point where we would be leaving the well traveled Adventure Cycling route and venturing  off on our own.  No more bike tourists coming the other way to chat with, no pre-published maps with all the info.  The folks on the tandem would be heading south sticking to the route.  After chasing them for so long it was sad to see them leave so quickly, especially when they’re such a good wind block.  Marcus was staying on 96 heading for Kansas City.

We were also debating on splitting north at this intersection.  We were heading to Salina to collect a rental car and had several potential routes.  In the end we decided to continue to Great Bend.  Given the wind, that turned out to be the best decision.  So on we went with our third rider.

There were little towns between Rush and Great Bend but nothing with food so we kept pedaling and eating the rations we had on board.  The wind freshened to 15-20 on the nose and we had no choice but to love it. 

Let’s just say that all three of us were quite happy to see the Bazine to Big Bend, KS 003signs for the Great Bend city limits.  Coming into a new town is always a surprise and the decisions surrounding where to eat can be a challenge.  To our left big ice cream sign high up in the sky, to our right Chinese buffet (remember the two guys and Cyndy).  Ultimately we went for both and proceeded to blow the rest of the afternoon.

It was a challenging day that was cut short by the adverse conditions.  We were tired (of the wind) and decided to call Great Bend home for the night so off to find a hotel room and get settled.  Marcus wanted to get some more miles in and he took his leave after lunch.  Thought he might rejoin Steve for the Katy Trail in Missouri, we’ll see.

Of course there were more trees today along with lots of crops but we didn’t really get a chance to appreciate it due to the wind.  Nor did we get to enjoy the rolling hills as it took almost as much effort to pedal down the hills as up.  It was nice that Marcus was still with us to share in pace lining.

We haven’t had a good enough connection to upload pictures for the last couple of days but we wanted to share this view from the CO/KS  border.  Watch closely, there’s allot of detail and visual excitement here.

Ok, maybe not, but I’m sure there’s something out there.

Needed to get a layer of grime off the bikes so got some cleaner (biodegradable, phosphorous free, all natural, fair trade, organic, no child labor, not tested on animals) and a tooth brush and went at it after dinner.  They hadn’t been cleaned since Grand Junction.  We can really accumulate some dirt in a couple weeks.

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Today we finally met East bound riders!  Marcus, from Chicago just graduated from college in Denver, joined us for the days’ travels.   We had a bit of a head wind so the company helped the miles click away. He joined us for the entire day’s agenda including breakfast in Scott City, the impromptu grocery store picnic and convenience store snack in Dighton, and the local swimming pool in Ness City. 

We woke to a cloudy morning that threatened a bit of precipitation.  We went about our morning duties including trying to get the tent dried before packing.  With breakfast eaten and most items packed it was time to roll up the tent dry or not.

We took the back way out of town that lead us behind the fairgrounds and onto a dirt road that Cyndy thoroughly enjoyed.  At the end we turned right and we were back on route.  Within a few minutes the clouds were letting go a heavy mist so Steve stopped to pull covers over the non-waterproof bags.  This is when we heard Marcus calling from behind.  We waited for him to catch up and went through the usual formalities, of course, inviting him to join us.

As we pedaled the day cleared and eventually Leoti to Bazine, KS 001 encountered another westbound rider.  This gentleman named Christian, was from Frankfurt Germany.  We stopped for a long chat and he wanted us to tease the riders behind him who had left him behind the day before now that he was ahead.  He had a trimmed down bike with no front loading and a pleasant carefree way.  He was the one who insisted that graveyards were the place to stay.

In Scott City, after a bit of a search, we stopped at Chaparral Restaurant & Club‎ for an early lunch.  This was a fairly large town relative to what we’ve experienced so we actually had a choice of restaurants!

Up the road a little further we stopped Leoti to Bazine, KS 003 in the Town of Dighton for lunch.  We ran into the grocery store and bought stuff to make lunch then proceeded to eat most of it there.  Outside of the front door we had made ourselves at home in a tiny sliver of shade beside the building.  It was here that we assembled and consumed our bounty.  For some reason, probably ice cream, we went to the convenience store across the intersection and found indoor seating where we could have spent our lunch time.  This was something to record in the memory banks; most of the convenience stores out here have seating too, don’t stand out in the heat!

We pushed on and arrived at Ness City in the early afternoon.  It was still warm and a dip in the pool seemed appropriate.  Leoti to Bazine, KS 006So that’s where we went.  Blake, a young local,  practically attached himself to Steve as soon as he pulled up to the pool fence.    We hopped in and enjoyed our time in the pool.  It was so nice to frolic in the water!  Blake, it turns out had a brother Brandon and the two wanted us to play along so we did and it kept us occupied as we swam around. In the course of conversation, Steve realized that this was not our stop for the day and was mighty disappointed.  Out of the pool and back on the bikes for another 20 miles, what a let down.

We pulled into Elaine’s Oasis farmhouse where she and her husband have a farm and rent out space to traveling bicyclists.  They invited us in like we were old friends, gave us run of the kitchen and bath facilities in their home including the laundry. Elaine will have breakfast set for us in the morning.  It was expensive but peaceful and pleasant.

This is where we finally caught up to the tandem that we’ve heard about for the past couple of days.  A retired couple from New Hampshire, travelling west to east.  They are taking their time, in no big rush to complete the trip doing 60 miles or less per day.

This location seems a bit more appropriate for camping than last night in Leoti. There it was just strange to be camping in the city park and to use the restroom around the corner at the local hospital. 

Today’s route has been the most homogenous, nondescript section of the ride we have been on.  The terrain was grazing and corn on both sides for the entire day.  So plain that we hesitated to get many photos as then tended to be indistinguishable from each other.

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Up and out fairly early this morning then stopped by the gas station/grocery store to scrounge whatever we could.  This place was owned by the guy that stopped by last night so the boy, Blake, came shooting out on his little bike when he saw us.  He went about entertaining us with bike tricks, riding around us and showing his best stuff.  Then he went in the back to find his helmet (last night we suggested he wear one).  We watched a couple more tricks but once again we were on our way.

Started with a little breeze behind us that got us off to a great start.  Ran into a group of 4 riders, 3 of them Brits.   The third group in a row with Brits.  They had heard about the others from riders ahead of us, but had not been able to catch them.  Spent a good 45 minutes trading tips.

25 miles down the road we stopped in Eads, CO for breakfast and stuffed too much food in, but we were fueled.  Haswell to Leoti, KS 006 Made another stop in Sheridan Lake for our regular ice cream snack.  There had been conflicting information on the existence of this store.  It did, in fact, exist and gave us an appreciated cooling/snacking opportunity.  The light tailwind continued and before we knew it we had reached the Kansas border, our first milestone for the day.  Stopped for a picture and a 360 degree video to show just how desolate this area is.  But at the same time, the quiet makes for good riding.  Kansas roads are wonderful so far and the drivers very generous.  Almost every driver giving at least the top of the steering wheel half hand wave and most move to the other side of the road when they pass. 

Stopped at Tribune, KS for a little lunch at a truck stop.  Mmmm, Yummy truck stop food.  By this point the temperature had reached 103 and neither of us were excited about getting back to it, so we procrastinated for an hour or so.  Chatting with the UPS driver as he came and went several times.

Reality finally caught up with us and we headed back out after stuffing our water bottles, gloves, pant legs, helmet, and camel back full of ice.  Other than the heat, today’s ride has been very enjoyable.  Haswell to Leoti, KS 016 The tail wind was still mostly there.  A bit up the road we reached a second milestone today, we crossed over into central time from mountain time.   Just a short hop up to Leoti, KS for our overnight. 

After a stop at the grocery store and the police station (for directions), we were able to make the town pool for a quick dip and shower before it closed.  The girl who was running the place was very generous and was not in any rush to turn us out even though Haswell to Leoti, KS 012 we were the only ones in the facility.  She was even knowledgeable about the cyclists and the usual behaviors, so she provided some direction to make our camping more comfortable. We returned the favor by clearing out by closing even though we were enjoying the cool water.  Nothing like floating and feeling the water after a physically demanding day.  The shower didn’t hurt either.

Tonight we camped at the city park right behind the pool with clearance from the local police.  Apparently this is a common thing along the bike route, staying in the town square/park.  It’s so very vagrant.  We pitched next to a covered picnic area and went about our usual Haswell to Leoti, KS 017chores with locals walking by with their dogs.  The hospital next door was open all night and would let us use the facilities.  There was even a power receptacle on a pole behind us for Steve to charge the computer.  All we needed was a shopping cart!

Since leaving Pueblo the terrain has been small rolling hills, enough to keep up the interest, but not causing much of a slow down.  Just for reference, with today’s tail wind of 5-7 MPH we averaged 18.2 mph and finished a century in 5 hours and 27 minutes with fully loaded bikes.  Up until this point we had been averaging about 11 MPH.

Dinner was pretty dismal, several botched attempts and messes with the Knorr’s pasta dish.  We learned not to put the milk powder into the pot before the water boils or actually, nothing in the pot except water until the stove is turned off.  At least there were fresh mushrooms and strawberries for dessert (since we already had 2 soft serve ice cream cones apiece earlier in the day!)

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