Saturday, July 24, 2010

Into the Plains

At last, I've entered Kansas. It's been three days of riding since I left Colorado Springs on Thursday and I've covered a 260 miles, two states and two timezones. Here's the recap:

Thursday, July 22-
I got a late start because Carter's little bed was so comfy and I was getting spoiled. In the end, I guess it all worked out. Wendi made pancakes for breakfast and packed me muffins for the road. And I would need them as I put in what would be my longest day ever in the saddle-- 125 miles! Needless to say, it was a long day.

The first 25 miles or so were hard. I was regretting the late start as the heat was pretty intense. Also, there were several pretty big climbs out of Colorado Springs. But I stopped for lunch in little Ellicott, CO and that was a nice break.
Looking back to Colorado Springs

Back on the road things were going pretty good until I saw the storm ahead. I was riding right into it. It started to drizzle slightly on me, but it was the lightning in front of me that really had me worried. Fortunately, I arrived in Rush, CO (only about 15 miles from Ellicott), where I pulled Bella under an awning and went inside a little restaurant and had pie, ice cream and read the book Mr. Drake gave me as I waited on the storm to pass.
Riding into the rain

After about 30 or 40 minutes, I decided to chance it. The storm had moved but the skies were brewing. I actually rode the next 60 miles in between storms. I could see the one in front of me getting away, but whenever I looked back I could see another following me right up the highway. I never did get rained on. Even better, the clouds kept the sun off me. I think if it were sunny, I would have never made it to Kit Carson.

I kept looking for places to pull over and camp. It was hard, because I do want to sort of conceal myself a little and in the prairie there are very few places where you can pull that off. By the time I made it to US 40, I made the decision just to push to Kit Carson. It was 21 miles, but fortunately downhill with a tailwind.

When I arrived in Kit Carson, it was dark and raining. I stopped into a roadside diner and ate a big dinner. It wasn't special, but for about $10.00, including tip, I was full. I was sitting outside waiting for the rain to die down to make my move. I didn't want to set up a tent in the rain. A gentleman starts talking to me. Nice guy, he's on the school board. They serve 93 students. I tell him there are semester that I have over 93 students. Their senior class is usually 2-3 students per year, some years they have as many as 5, a few years 1, but they've never had a class of zero.

He tells me I can camp in the city park. The bathrooms are never locked and there's a pavilion. Bingo for me. I get there and am surprised, this park cannot be more than 2 or 3 years old (or it's very well kept). Nice facilities, but most importantly, a shelter so I don't have to set up my tent in the rain.
Camping in Kit Carson

Friday, July 23-
I was up early to beat the heat. Easy ride south to Eads and then I turned east towards home. Route 96 is back on the Transamerica and I ran into my first biker in Eads. I tried to talk a little as we rode, but he was a lot slower so I moved on. Rode past the site of the infamous Sand Creek Massacre-- one of many sad moments in our history with the Indians. Stopped for a long break from the hot sun in Sheridan Lake's gas station/sub shop.

Made it into Kansas to the town of Tribune. Tribune is a neat little community in the prairie. When you ride through Main Street, it's piping country music through the speakers. I'm no country music fan, but this was very appropriate and perfect. Tribune is in Greeley County, named after Horace Greeley, who wrote for the New York Tribune (hence the town name) and advocated, among other things, that Kansas be a free state. Greeley County only has two towns, Tribune and the nearby and smaller, Horace.

Here's the Greeley County Fairgrounds. Someday, I'm gonna visit one of these little county fairs out here in the midwest.
Greeley Fairgrounds

In the park in Tribune were several other bikers. One going to Arizona, a husband and wife doing the Tranamerica west to east and another group of three doing the same route. The city left the pool house unlocked so we could shower and use the bathrooms. We parked our bikes in the pavilion in case it stormed. In the morning, when I woke up at 6:30, all the bikers were gone. Talk about early risers!
Bike Parking
Saturday, June 24-
I had an awesome ride from Tribune to Leoti. Then after leaving Leoti, I ran into a headwind. My pace slowed considerably. My goal was a little town called Dighton, but I fell short and stopped in Scott City. I was tired from the wind and the last two days.

Actually, I was undecided if I were to stay or move on. I was riding down the street looking for a place to get a late lunch when a guy in an SUV asks if I was going to stay in town for the night. I say maybe. He tells me there's a biker's hostel just half a block, he'll show me. His name is Bill and he runs the Athletic Club, which doubles as a hostel. Not a true hostel. There are gymnastics equipment, lockers, showers, an Olympic pool, but no beds. Bikers just roll out their sleeping bags and sleep. It's not a bad deal, I'm staying here with two guys from Jersey and another couple from New England. I got out of the sun, explored the town, took an afternoon nap, and had a nice dinner with Andrew and Brian (the Jersey boys).

And how can you not sleep well with this in your room?

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