Kansas mosquito headwinds & the nicest people everHowdy there from the end of Kansas! Well, not quite there but, very close. I ended this week in Girard and only 80 miles to the state line into Missouri. I began this week waking up in Leoti, KS under a pavilion to the howling winds outside my tent. I got up around 7:00am when the wind died down and got cooking down the road. I had a tailwind at about 15 mph which, made my daily average 23 mph. I traveled about 85 miles into the town of Ness City and set up camp in the city park. Softball tournament in the park hosted food trucks from all over so, I went to sleep on a full belly.
Mosquitos were again, one of the worst I have seen. Packing up my bike on Tuesday was something out of a clown act. I was running around trying to pack my equipment but, I was getting eaten alive. Left so quickly and headed toward Larned, KS. Made a stop halfway for some Gatorade and was told by some locals that I was about to hit some large hills. They told me Kansas is so big that it hides these giant hills down the road Between there and Larned. Intimidated, I rode all the way into Larned and had no idea what “hills” these people were talking about. Headwind all day and stayed in the humid, mosquito-infested city park.
On Wednesday, I left Larned in the 90 degree heat but, I had a small tailwind. Everything seemed to be looking up for the first mile and then, I immediately got a flat tire. After yelling at my bike like it did something wrong, I changed it out and was on my way once again. After I changed my tube, the winds shifted and I now had a headwind. Frustrated, I rode 10 more miles until tube number two flattened. With sweat constantly dripping off of my face, I changed the tube in the hot sun. I was almost too exhausted to waste energy on being mad. The next 40 miles seemed to inch by because of the heat and the headwind. I was 14 miles from town and a well-known church hostel when tube number three went out. I laughed out loud while changing it and only had one tube left. I swept my rim and inner tire but, found nothing. Not a mile later and my fourth and final tube died. Without skipping a beat, I immediately threw up my thumb to hitchhike into town. I was picked up by a man name Marlin and he drove me straight to the bike shop. I got some new tubes and changed them out to discover a wire that was lodged in my rim. I pulled it out and solved the problem to my terrible day. After all said and done, I was in a bed in the church hostel enjoying the air condition. If anything, it makes a great story!
Woke up late in the church and it was pouring rain outside. I was not motivated to start riding in the rain. I waited until the afternoon and hit the steaming road for a short 50-miles into Newton, KS. Newton had a fantastic city park with a pool. They let me swim and shower for free. From Newton, I rode 80 miles into Eureka, KS. I took a wrong turn and added 8 miles to my day which, didn't bother me until I had 8 miles left. I set up again in a city park with a pool and slept terribly because of the heat. This seemed to be a common occurrence in Kansas. The sky cleared up and the stars came out in force. Kansas has some hard aspects to it but, is so incredibly beautiful.
I woke up thinking that I would get a hotel tonight in Chanute. I only had about 70 miles but, I was very worn out after about 9 days without a proper place to relax. I rode out of the open plains and into some trees and hills. As I get closer to Missouri, the hills and climbs begin to appear again which, is very exciting. I only did a 45-mile day into Girard because I have some packages in the post office. Picking them up in the morning and continuing East!
This week has been filled with ups and downs...emotionally, not physically. It has been very hot and humid at times but, I was mentally prepared for it this whole trip. Kansas in itself was beautiful and although the wind was at my face most of the time, I really enjoyed the people and nice city parks to camp at. Missouri, here I come!
People: Met a few people in the past week both cyclists and locals alike. I will say that out of all of my touring, the people in Kansas have been the best. The traffic (for the most part) gives a very wide shoulder when passing you and also the locals everywhere just want to help anyway they can.
When my fourth tube when out, I had to hitchhike into Hutchinson, KS. I was picked up by a man by the name of Marlin. Marlin was a middle-aged man and he said nothing when he stopped to pick me up. I opened the door to his truck and he was just chuckling to himself. I asked him in a heat-exhausted daze if he was headed into town and he said,” for you I am”. He was covered in sweat from head to toe working in the oil fields as a roustabout. He knew exactly how I felt. He called his boss to tell him he was helping me and then called the bike shop to make sure it was open for me. He dropped me off at Harley's Bike shop where I met Noah, the owner. He hooked me up with tubes and tape then sent me on my way.
Met many westbound riders this week but, none of them stopped to chat. I did meet another couple of guys riding from San Francisco to Virginia. They names are Christian and Greg and they are super cool! It is a grandfather and grandson team making the miles. They both are very experienced in touring and I have been running into them the past few days.
The last person I had a long conversation was a warm showers host named Robyn. Robyn owned a rental property she lets cyclists sleep there for a small fee. I actually arrived into town a bit late and when I set up my tent in the city park, she felt bad and brought me sweet potatoe pie and some locally made postcards. She offered me a covered place to sleep and I respectfully declined due to how late it was. Yet another trail angel making my night.
Geography: Wow! This week has been an extremely challenging section but, not because of the terrain. The heat and wind has been calling the shots since the beginning. Luckily, I have been mentally prepared for it so, frustration levels have been at a minimum. The terrain of Kansas is flat and grassy in the eastern part of the state. It has slowly transitioned into rolling hills with larger shrubs then into steep climbs and trees everywhere. There are streams and rivers in the valleys but, the water is very silty and filled with farming runoff.
The trick with riding this state is to be ready to ride at night if needed. Wind and heat is normally much better at night and the traffic is very low. I am excited to hit the hills and climbs again and onward to more familiar ground, the Blue Ridge mountain range. Excited to hit Missouri and about 1,500 miles left!
What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure?The feeling of adventure and seeing new places. On a bike, time seems to move much slower and I would love to feel that again.
Have you traveled by bike in the past?I have completed the Great Divide Mountain Bike route from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
What is your goal for the route?My goal is to diverge from the route off the beaten trail and go find adventure! I would like to be able to gather stories about my adventure in order to motivate others to get out there!
What do you hope to get out of this journey?By the end of this journey, I hope to have collected stories, meet as many people as possible, and all around have fun. Along with doing this, I would love to have a very detailed journal and blog for others to follow and get inspired.