No Name Tour: Day 17 – And Five Went Riding

After a sumptuous dining experience at Subway, Corey, Mark, Sweet T, and I headed back to the hotel where we met Fedya, a Russian guy who began his cross country ride in North Carolina.

We headed to our respective rooms and, by all reports, crashed early and hard. Yesterday was a tough ride.

The hotel was a rather run down place but its breakfast was pretty decent: coffee, juice, cereal (including Cheerios!), eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, and yogurt. No fruit but still more than enough fuel for our 60+ mile trek.

(L to R) Mark, Sweet T, Corey, Fedya at the start

We headed west out of Larned. I tried to keep up with the gang but it took me 8 miles to warm up. We were dealing with a light headwind and a steady, gentle climb for 12 miles before turning to the north.

It was 19 miles to the optimistically named Rush Center. Wheat and fallow fields, many still affected by the floods. On and on in a straight line. Fedya, who is fit but relatively new to bicycling, was experiencing serious SBS. You know they are hurting when I blow past them.

I could see the others far in the distance. I’d stop from time to time to check things out and ease by behind. I could see them pulling away.

Riders on a rare bend in the road

At a rest stop at Rust Center, Fedor was despondent; his butt was killing him. Mark loaned him the Brooks Cambrium saddle that he tried last week. After only 100 yards, Fedya put his old saddle, a Brooks 17, back on. It seemed to work. Sore butt and all I couldn’t keep up with him.

From Rush Center we headed due west to Ness City. The wind direction was rotating. A cross wind gradually turned into a tailwind. Just the thing we needed to push us up the 1 percent grade.

33 miles later we rode into Ness City like cowpokes after a cattle drive. Alas there was no saloon with sportin’ women. We settled for a quick break at Dollar General where Mark bought a pool noodle. It made me think of Dave.

The weather had been beautiful all day so we were hoping to camp in the city park. A lack of showers or a pool convinced us to check into the rather run down hotel in town. At least it’s inexpensive. And has a pool.

Tonight we dine on Mexican food. Hola, senorita. Cinco cervesas, por favor.

Miles today: 64.5

Miles total: 1,087

No Name Tour: Day 16 – The Long Straight Road

Last night about 1 a.m. I rolled over and my right hamstring went into a massage be spasm. I managed not to yell but the spasm lasted ten minutes. It gradually abated for another then minutes before going into spasm again.

Ten minutes later my leg calmed down and I could go back to sleep.

Rough night.

We had breakfast at the hostel. The meal consisted of food we bought at the supermarket last night. Over the meal we discussed options for getting past Nickerson. The main roads we needed to use we still closed by the flood.

Sweet T opted to listen to locals who told him to go north, east of Nickerson. Then go west, passing the flooded area to the north. We opted to use the google. We knew we were taking a chance in but it worked out fine.

From our Adventure Cycling maps we knew that there would be no services along our route of over 70 miles. BYOB.

We went west from Hutchinson for about 16 miles. For part of this segment of the ride we were pacelining. We crossed over the Arkansas (pronounced Are Kansas) which flows south from the Nickerson area. The river was high and fast.

Fast, I wasn’t, and the three-man pacelining became a duo.

Next we turned north for six miles. Mark and Corey guessed right; we ended up just to the west of the flooded area.

Here we turned left for 50 miles. Without a turn. Just straight through the prairie. Corey told me that, in addition to riding into a light headwind we were climbing on a grade of 1 to 2 percent.

Mark sped ahead. I tried to keep up with Corey but my left knee and my need to use a restroom kept my speed down.

Mark, then Corey, stopped at a roadside sign that said “Water for Bikers”. Corey suggested that I stop and ask to use their restroom.

Sherry gives water to cyclist. A true trail angel.

I did. No problem. Then the homeowner named Sherry gave me a cold bottle of water for the road.

Odd roadside monument to Warren G. Harding

And the miles went by. Slowly. On and on through a wildlife preserve with more birdsongs than I could count. This is a stop over for many migratory birds.

Quivers National Wildlife Refuge

Then came the farms. Some had grain growing but most were not yet planted. Ponds of water were visible in most of these fields.

On and in. The terrain rising before me. Just a bit. The wind pushing against me. Just a bit.

Corey is the yellow dot in the distance

After over six hours of riding I caught Mark and Corey waiting on a bridge over the Arkansas River. (Our route was a line under its arc.)

We rode into Larned and stopped by the police station to get permission to camp one the surprisingly dry city park. We were told that tonight the city would be spraying for mosquitoes. We decide not to risk exposure to the insecticide and checked into a $50 per night motel. It’s everything you’d expect and less.

Miles today: 73

Miles total: 1022.5