Hello Missouri!

Day 21, April 21

I woke to rain this morning (4-6 am).  I departed around 6:30 am and arrived in Girard KS 51-miles later with the sun shining and a light NW breeze.  I spent about an hour there drying out the tent and some of my gear.  Then, I rode onward to Pittsburg KS and a stop at a bike shop on the route in order pump up the tires, lube the chain, etc.

I crossed into Missouri about 5 miles out of Pittsburg… so “Goodbye, Kansas!” and “Hello, Missouri!”  I was feeling pretty strong and the weather/wind conditions were favorable, so I decided to go for the 94-mile day that would take me to Golden City, MO.

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Hello, Missouri!

The oil fields have gradually disappeared and toward the end the rigs were so small… only 5′ height in some cases. Cute!

I had a couple of more dog chases, but luckily outrode them again.  I am told that my upcoming 400-mile route across Missouri will be pretty hilly.

Today’s random act of kindness: an elderly couple bought my dinner tonight in support of Special Olympics Nebraska!! 

Golden City offers a nice park structure for camping with facilities closeby.

Golden City Camp City
Golden City camp site

Statistics: 94 miles, Max 33 mph, Time: 7:00 hrs; Average 13.4 mph

Postlude: At the Goldne City park, a kid started talking to me about the trip.  He asked me how old I thought he was.  I said, “about 15,” which turned out to be right.  Then, I asked the dangerous question, “How old do you think I am?”  He said 42.  Yay!  Ha! Ha!

 

Century to Chanute

Day 20, April 20

I am pretty excited, as today I was able to get my first century ride (101.2 miles) for this trip and I feel great!  I just crossed Hwy 75, so I am currently due south from Omaha.  This was my best day thus far!!!

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101.2 miles today!!!

It was another very cool start today  from Cassoday, with a slight NW breeze (10 mph).  This made the ride quite enjoyable and easy… compared to the rest of the week.  The roads were nice with gentle slopes up and down.  I had 54 miles clocked in by 12:40 pm with the hope of making it all the way to Chanute today.  I was grateful for the light tailwinds and terrific roads that helped me to meet my goal. Yay!!

I’m going to lose this nice highway (54) in 2 miles, though.

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This sign made me smile as it reminded me of our granddaughters Reese and Rhylan!

The oils wells are shrinking in number and in size.  The route took me around Toronto Lake.  I had some good views through the trees.   I had three sets of dog chases, but I was able to outride them!

The weather looks like it will be pretty good for camping tonight.  And the Santa Fe Park in Chanute is very nice.

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Chanute camp site- Santa Fe Park

I am only about 65 miles to the Kansas/Missouri border from here.  Pittsburg, KS (the last town on my Kansas route) is 61 miles away, which may be my stopping point/camp site tomorrow night.

Statistics: 101.2 miles, Max 36 mph, Time 7:38, Average: 13.2 mph

“Cush” Cassoday

Day 19, April 19

I woke to a nice cold day, with only a slight wind from the north.  It was an enjoyable morning of riding through the hills, grasslands and oil rigs. By noon I encountered some pretty significant hills and a headwind from the east of about 15 mph, which contributed to a strenuous afternoon.  In all, I rode 67.3 miles today- Buhler to Cassoday, KS.

Noteworthy:

  • I found $10.45 in change on the highway!  Fortunate!  Every little bit helps.
  • The Hesson/Newton KS areas were nice, but it was too early to make either of those towns a lunch stop.
  • Today’s ride had a lot of “empty miles” with no services.
  • I have seen numerous Mennonite churches these past couple of days.
  • More storms are predicted for tonight (100%),  and Cassoday does not have a hotel or decent camping.

About Cassoday, KS- Cassoday is in Butler County, Kansas. It was named for John Cassoday, chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Cassoday is known as THE “Prairie Chicken Capital of the World.” The city population is around 129.

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Please be advised: Cassoday is THE Prairie Chicken Capital of the World!

“Cush” Cassoday Lodging I stopped at the Cassoday Country store for water.  Shari, the new owner of the establishment, offered me the shed in the back for tonight’s lodging.  While there are no facilities, at least I will be dry for tonight’s imminent storms.  Thank you, Shari!

Statitstics: 67.3 Miles, Max 21 mph, Time 6:38, Average 10.1 mph

Brrrr to Buhler

Day 18, Apri 18

I had a delayed start this morning due to cold temperatures (40 degrees) coupled with a heavy mist/rain.  Once underway, I immediately noticed the calmer winds (light NW).  The cool temperatures (brrrr) and cloud cover lingered throughout the day.  Overall, riding conditions were better than they had been all week. I managed 80+ miles today, landing in the town of Buhler, KS.

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Cold gear needed for this morning’s ride!

I rode by a farm that housed about 10 zebras, and another farm with several miniature beefalo (hybrid offspring of domestic cattle and the American buffalo).

The terrain is gaining some character with more rolling hills with trees blanketing the slopes.  Oil rigs and tanks are strewn along the route.

Buhler, KS (population 1300) features beautiful schools, huge parks, ballfields, pool, etc.  The town has one small five-table cafe and a 24-hour self-serve gas pump.  Yet, there is no hotel in Buhler!

More storms are on the horizon for Tue and Wed, but I should be getting some good riding weather Thu-Sun. I’m eager to get through Kansas!

Statistics: 80.4 Miles, Max 24 mph, Time 6:39, Avg 12.1

Lessons “Larned”

Day 17, April 17

I woke to clouds this morning, but not rain, so I left Ness City by 7 am.  After about 10 miles, the rains came pouring down, forcing me to take shelter and change out of my heavy, wet clothes.  (They weighed around 10 lbs.)  I completed the additional 53 miles riding in light to heavy rain.

The roadsides have really greened up and the terrain is now more rolling and less flat.  I passed by the Christ Pilot Me Hill, which gave me incentive to push on in the rain.

Christ Pilot Me Hill
Christ Pilot Me Hill, Bazine, KS

I arrived to Larned, KS very cold and wet.  I am staying at the Townsman Inn.  The staff was kind enough to allow me to use the hotel’s industrial dryer to dry out my clothes/gear.

Lessons “Larned:”

  • The “Christ Pilot Me Hill,” one The 8 wonders of Ness County, is located just east of Bazine, KS.  This marker is a beautiful limestone bearing the prayerful expression laid out in 1940 by 40 youth from the area.  Later on lights were added to illuminate the message and then in 1991 the crosses were added to the top of the hill. It has become an area landmark for both motorists and aviators… and bicyclists! 
  • The City of Larned drew its name from nearby Fort Larned. In the 1880’s the fort served to protect traffic along the Santa Fe Trail.
  • I do not have the proper gear for bike riding in the rain/cold.  My cotton clothing holds water like a sponge.
Soggy
Soggy!

Statistics: 63.5 Miles, Max 21.5 mph, Time 5 hrs, Avg 12.6 mph

 

Locked Ness

Day 16, April 16

Today was a complete washout, with thunderstorms and flooding throughout the day.  So, I am on “lock down” with a “stationary bike” in Ness City for another day/night.  I am hoping for a break tomorrow morning and will ride if conditions allow.  Forecasts of rain/wind are not in my favor.

My temporary residence is Hotel Derrick, which is named for the oil derricks in the area.  It is an antiquated building, and needs a total workover, except for the pool. (Jane would love this pool/hot tub!)

It is raining both inside and outside of the hotel! While the internet booking site says, “only 5 rooms left, ” I have not seen another guest here.  Perhaps only 5 rooms are habitable… my room would barely meet the lowest standards. There is a washer/dryer, so I now have clean clothes for my departure.

Three local seniors (89-90 year-olds) play cards at the hotel each day.  They invited me to join them for lunch, driving me to/from the cafe in the downpour.

If there is a clearing tomorrow, I may try to ride 33 miles to Rush Center, KS.  While there is no hotel in Rush Center, my new friends shared some contact information of friends that would likely provide me with some shelter from the rain if needed.

Stats: No ride today!

Windy-Ness

Day 15, Apr 15

I had another sleepless night in Dighton, with high winds gusting all night long. Because of predicted storms this afternoon/evening, I departed from Dighton early and endured winds that would have frightened Dorothy and Toto, exceeding 40 mph cross/head!!

I passed by the Homestead of George Washington Carver in Beeler, KS.

The Kansas car and truck drivers have been very good about moving over and sharing the road…. nice!!

While I would be hard pressed to find some “roses to smell,” there were methane fumes releasing from the oil storage tanks along the road.

The “short” ride of 35 miles to Ness City was taxing, as my bike/buggy struggled to hold the road while attempting to move forward.

I will be staying at Ness City’s Derrick Inn due to imminent storms.  It appears Saturday will be a forced rest day due to more stormy weather conditions.  (Note: today a tornado was reported in one of the Colorado towns I passed through a couple of days ago- Eads, CO).  Crazy weather!  It is supposed to get pretty cold around here on Sunday.

The town’s namesake, Corporal Noah Ness, was an enlisted soldier who served in the Union Army and died of Civil War wounds in 1864.

Stats:  35 mi, Max 15.1, Time 4:08, Average 8.5 mph

 

Fightin’ (the wind) to Dighton

Day 14, April 14

If you recall, I was invited to pitch my tent last night on the Tribune Courthouse lawn. They did fail to mention that the spinklers would come on at 1:40 am. Hence, I got an unexpected soaking!

It was another cold start at 44 degrees, but the winds were noticably stronger this morning.  The E-SE headwind started at 20 mph and increased throughout the day to 40 mph. The strong head/cross winds have accounted for very difficult rides these past three days.  I am completely “blown away” by it all! 🙂

I passed into the Central Time Zone, so I lost an hour today. I still managed to ride over eight hours.

Setting up camp with the gusts of wind has been tough.  My bike just blew over for the second time today.  I am fortunate that there was no apparent damage to the bike.

The locals are warning me about some major rainstorms heading this way that may be looming for the next 5 days.  The wind is supposed to be even worse tomorrow, so I will get out early and try to make it to Ness City (only 31 mi) before the predicted storms materialize.  It looks like I’ll be forced to get a hotel tomorrow night.

Coffee shop chatter: One funny note about the locals in Dighton.  They all talk about their flock (30-40) of buzzards that circle the town at dusk.

Midnight Postlude:  The wind has worsened and every few minutes a wind gust smashes the tent down on me. I am not getting any sleep and will determine if I am able to ride in this wind in the morning. 

Statistics: 73.3 Miles, Max 18.3 mph, Time: 8:19, Average: 8.8 mph

Dighton Campsite
Dighton (KS) Campsite

 

Cruising to Kansas

Day 13, Apr 13

I had a chilly night of camping, with temperatures dropping to around 40 degrees.  I can’t complain about today’s high of 77.  The headwinds the past two days were a deterrant to my hopes of getting a century (100 mile) ride in.  I would like to ride eastward as quickly as possible, as the “talk of the town” is about the upcoming storms… 40 inches of snow in the mountains and 2 1/2 inches of rain in Kansas.

Today’s ride of 83 miles was pretty boring.  While Colorado’s roadside crops were quite barren, the Kansas crops were springing up already.  I also noticed some oil wells popping up in eastern Colorado and western Kansas.

The Tribune Sheriff’s Office was very helpful in helping me to find a place to camp.  In fact, I am pitching my tent on the courthouse grounds.

Statistics: 83 Miles, Max 23.5 mph, Time 7:17, Average 11.3 mph