In the very early planning for this ride, I thought I would just go out and do a hundred miles a day, go coast to coast in less than a month and be done. As I started mapping the route, I immediately saw that there were things like deserts and tall mountains that might slow me down. Even more, towns and possible hotels are not spaced evenly at 100 mile increments.
With that dose of reality, I changed my plan to the target posted at https://thelonerider.bike/the-route-tabular. In that plan, there were still going to be some 100 mile days as I got to Kansas. I thought, with west winds all day, I could do 100 miles on the flat terrain. Except for some stretches to Lakin yesterday, it has been pretty flat. It has certainly been windy. Trouble is, the wind is not always at my back. Sometimes it is in my face. At 15 to 25 mph, the wind is worse to me than climbing the mountains. Strong winds can lift houses and drop them on wicked witches. I’ve never seen a mountain do that. The grades in the mountains were never especially steep, but they lasted a long time. When you’re heading east for 100 miles and the wind is not friendly, that suffering will last longer than any mountain.
Today’s ride had wind starting out of the SW. I was pretty much due east all day, so that was a good thing. I could hold 16 or 17 mph early in the ride when I was fresh, getting that help. I had to turn south a few times and my speed would drop to 10 or 11 mph as the weight and wind resistance of the panniers hurt even more against the wind.
I have stayed in some pretty cheap motels. Well, some weren’t so cheap, but they just charged more because they were the only game is town. Like many, my hotel had offered a continental breakfast. As has often been the case, that means bread for toast, packaged donuts, and maybe some cereal with milk. No eggs or protein of any kind. All flour and sugar. I got a breakfast burrito at a gas station on my way out of Garden City. This took some extra time to make up for the breakfast that fell short at the hotel. My next chance for any food, drink, or bathroom was going to be Cimarron, 30 miles away.
I wanted to be on the road early for today’s 96 mile ride to Greensburg. I chose the town because it was either going to be Dodge City at 50 miles, or press on to Greensburg for 96 miles. There were no hotel or warm showers options in between on my route. Kansas has lots of little towns, but not all have hotels. Riding along the Santa Fe Trail, I have found that what constitutes a town is whether they put a large grain elevator at that part of the railroad track.
The second breakfast at Cimarron was very filling. I chose a local diner and did not regret it. Feeling full, it was another 20 miles to Dodge City. I took several pictures, some with the flexible tripod I carry in my jersey pocket.
With the usual “City Limits sign” pictures under my belt I headed for a McDonald’s to get a Flurry. It was getting close to 80F and I wanted to satisfy my ice cream urges. After a rest room break, I did my usual check of the 3 pockets of my jersey. Food in one, wallet in the middle, and phone in the third. All were there, but I couldn’t find the tripod. I double checked the bathroom and didn’t find it. I looked at my last pictures on the phone and realized that it might still be wrapped around a sign where it had held my phone for a picture. I rode back 1.5 miles and luckily, it was still wrapped on the sign. Besides the time delay, I had just added 3 miles to my trip.
To make matters worse, while I was eating the ice cream, the wind had shifted from the southwest and now was coming out of the northwest. This was not too big an issue as I would bank southeast to the next town, 18 miles away. By the time I reached the town of Ford, the wind had shifted further and was pretty much coming out of the north. It had gotten even stronger.
Leaving Ford, I was going southeast, so the wind gave me a bit of a push on my final 28 miles to Greensburg. After 3 miles, I turned due east. For the next 25 miles Hidalgo, the panniers, and I were like a ship in a storm. The panniers made for a wide wind front to the wind. All the weight was on the rear of the bike. I had to go to a low position on the handle bars to get more stability to keep the wind from turning me off the road. The cross wind slowed me to 9 – 12 mph. Now it was a long ride in time and distance. The road had a wide shoulder, but each semi that passed created even more turbulence. It felt like someone was trying to push me over. I was glad to have the day come to an end. At least it didn’t rain!
I took the cheaper of the 2 hotels in Greensburg. There was no breakfast at all, but it did have a fridge and a microwave. I wouldn’t have stayed without wifi. I had passed a small grocery store on the way to the hotel. I decided to get my dinner and breakfast supplies from there. So after checking in, I dumped the panniers in the room, got my lock, cable and string bag and rode back the 1.25 miles to get the night’s dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast. My 96 mile day had tripped over to 101 miles. Without giving you TMI, I have to apply a lot of cream and tenderness to a tender part of my bottom. The next day was scheduled to be a 113 mile ride to Maize, just outside Wichita. I had come to my senses back in Arizona when one of my warm showers hosts had coached me into breaking a 96 mile climb into 2 days. I had already decided to break the 113 mile leg into 2 segments. Today will be 65 miles. I hope my butt doesn’t complain too much. It’s all part of the adventure.
The Lone Rider