It is still hot and windy in Kansas. Last night (end of Day 32) some major thunderstorms rolled through. The storms are supposed to bring a bit cooler temperatures and lighter wind the next two days. After that, a heat wave is supposed to come through (didn’t we just have that?) and move temperatures over 100.
I only saw one cross-country rider on Day 31. Looking more closely at the ACA’s paper maps, I figured out why. I was off the TransAmerica Trail for half the day. I don’t think this was the reason for earlier days with few sightings. When we put this trip together, we copied someone else’s route from the RideWithGPS app. Early on we discovered the guy we copied from liked gravel roads and occasionally took minor detours from the main route to go on gravel Roads. It was easy for us to stay on paved trails. For Day 31, it appears he took a different road for half the day. I also chose a hotel in Hutchinson (off route a few miles) where I could find a bike shop.
On Day 32 I met Bill (from Vancouver, Washington) and Corey (from West Virginia). They mentioned that they have been riding westward on and off together. We shared a few tips for upcoming days and talked about the ride for a few minutes before moving along. I think my aero bars have people taking me for a racer.
Day 32 was fun. First, I had a tail wind. Second, I stopped in Newton, Kansas, a neat little town. I share some pictures in my Relive video. Cool coffee shop. The barista there asked which way I was going and told me that east was “the wrong way.” I asked why and she said almost everyone she talks to is going west. Finally, it was only 78 miles, much less than the ~100 of the previous three days.
Day 31: 102 miles, 1198 elevation
Today was a tough day. I wanted to get to Hutchinson to get to a bike shop and that meant 100 miles. That became more important after I got another flat tire today in Great Bend. I changed my tires in Pueblo and have had two flats since then. Both came while riding ”in-town.” Not sure if it is the new tires or the situations or both. But I feel better with more inner tubes and CO2 cartridges in my bag.
I fought a lot of headwinds and heat today. A 20-30 mph wind was out of the south and the route included some straight south and southeasterly sections. These were tough. I was in my aero bars for a lot of the day. THANK YOU JEFF for loaning me your aero bars. For my non-cycling readers, aero bars let you get in a tuck position and reduce wind resistance (see some photos—not of me). At the beginning of the ride I was in the aero bars about 5% of the time, mostly to break up my riding position. Lately I am in them 25-50% of the time—I like them—and yesterday it was about 75% of the time.
Day 32: 78 miles, 1014 elevation
Today was a mixed day of riding, but mostly good. I got a later start than I prefer, because I needed to wait for Harley Bicycles to open at 9:00. I was there when it opened, bought a few inner tubes and CO2 cartridges. The shop people were great. I took a short cut to Newton where I rejoined the TransAmericaTrail. Later I jumped off the Trail again to get to my off-trail hotel in El Dorado.
78 miles have never felt so good. After the previous three days of fighting headwinds, today’s tailwind and fewer miles felt like a recovery ride. The last hour and a half the sun and 95 degree temperatures dragged me down a bit. Get out earlier tomorrow!
Cool things in small town America
Chris loves to check out interesting sights in small towns. Someday I can see her following me around the country, I ride my bike and she checks out small towns. When we were in Utah, she detoured to find Butch Cassidy’s house after seeing it on the map. See picture below. This lead to us reading about Butch and discovering he probably didn’t die jumping off a cliff, like we all saw in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford).
If Chris was with me here in Hutchinson, I am sure she would check out Strataca (previously more informatively named the Kansas Underground Salt Museum). A two-hour tour takes you 650 feet underground to see rock salt deposits formed 275 million years ago. The Hutchison Salt Company mines the salt. This is one of 15 salt mines in the U.S. but the only one with public access. These are the kind of interesting little nuggets you can find in small towns across our great country. If I had more time, I would do that today.
Stories and pictures
Day 31: From La Crosse to Hutchinson
The road out of Great Bend went straight south into the teeth of a 20-30 mph headwind. Ugh! It was nice to have this wide shoulder. While tucked in the aero bars it is more difficult for me to see the traffic behind me in that little rear view mirror you see poking out the side of my sunglasses. Plus, the wind was gusting and can kind of bounce you around a bit. And this road was pretty busy with traffic. I felt a lot safer with that wide shoulder.
During a long hot stretch between services, about 72 miles into my ride, I saw this sign by the side of the road. It was heaven sent. My water but it was warm by now as it had been hours since I had seen a store. The temperature was about 95.…
I looked over and saw a literal oasis. Was it a mirage? Was there still water in the cooler?
Not a mirage. Ice cold water in the cooler. Who would do such a thing?
Thank you Flickinger family. Writing that note was a small price to pay. You don’t know how much this helped me, especially when about 10 miles ahead the route included…
A wrong turn. I opened Google maps which took me onto a dirt road for 4 miles. Loose dirt. Heavy, packed bike, and me tired as it was late in the day—not a good combination. Looking closer at the maps later, I saw a slightly longer paved route; I am not sure why Google did not offer that. I kept that in mind on Day 32 when Google offered an alternative to Hwy 50.
Next, a few more picture of grain elevators…
Hard to see the grain elevators, but it is under the sunrise, Sunrise Over Grain Elevator 2.
Glowing Grain Elevator
Reaching for the Sky
Harley’s Bicycles - good people work here
Kevin at Harley Bicycles suggested a less trafficked route south of Hwy 50. I got lazy and decided to hop on this pretty busy road for ~30 miles. While maybe a bit less scenic, it was faster. Kevin‘s directions were helpful to get me here.
One benefit to riding on Hwy 50 was seeing this old gas station. This was next to somebody’s house and farm. The owner collected all kinds of antique gas station signage, old gas pumps (see them in front of the “station,” and even an old gasoline delivery truck.
I Yelped “Coffee Shops in Newton” and found Norm’s had the best ratings. Good choice. Cool place. Very good Mocha and egg casserole.
I love this world map on the wall at Norm’s.
First note the narrow (nonexistent) shoulder. Then look at the sign. There were two of these signs on this stretch of road. And the drivers were really good about following “the law.” Drivers waited behind me when traffic was coming the other way. Pass with a wide berth. Thank you Kansans. Not that I am ready to forgive you Kansans for the second half of that game back in April, but that is a whole other story.
That’s what I am experiencing here in the heartland of America. Still having fun.