No Name Tour: Day 19 – Dust in the 💨

I barely slept at all last night in my new tent. It withstood high winds and rain. I did not withstand neighborhood noises (the bird calls here remind me of Sydney Australia) and my messed up left knee. Because of the steady climb we haven’t been able to glide much. Just a constant grinding away. Tonight I’m putting in ear plugs and taking Ibuprofen PM. I’ll be dead to the world.

Leoti has a small bakery where the male breakfast burritos and brew coffee. That was enough grub to fuel our morning.

Heading west again on Highway 93, we encountered the same old, same old. A straight road that climbed a one percent grade with uncanny consistency. The calm winds of the very start of the ride soon gave way to 12 – 15 mph headwinds. I decided to just listen to my body. It said 9 mph. And do The Mule and I rolled, well behind Mark and Corey.

They are at the halfway point of their journey. Both are having hand discomfort. Mark taped a kitchen sponge to the left side of his handlebar. Corey fashioned cushions for both hands out of a pool noodle. I am not making this up.

Pool noodles to the rescue

We finally encountered our first east bound TransAm rider today. Adam is from Wales. He started in Seattle, rode to, then up the Columbia River. Then he picked up the TransAm Route. Adam confirmed that the route is open through the Rockies with snow on the ground at higher elevations. As you might imagine he said it was beautiful.

Adam with a tailwind smile

So Mark and Corey are good to go. As for me, I know of one road closure from a rock slide on my route in Utah. I’ll be checking with state DOTs for more tonight.

Along our route we passed a grain elevator along the parallel railroad tracks. I’d have taken a picture of the train waiting to be filled but it wouldn’t fit into the frame. Mark estimated that it had about 200 identical hopper cars.

We took a snack break in Tribune, Kansas. Then hit the road for another 22 miles. Fortunately the wind had died down but the uphill grind still wore me down.

We crossed into the mountain time zone soon after lunch.

Soon thereafter we posed at the Colorado state line sign.

Me, Corey, and Mark

Tonight we are staying at the Sheridan Lake Bible Church. No showers or bed but air conditioning, bathrooms, and a well stocked larder. No complaints from me.

We are now sat 4,079 feet, meaning we climbed another 700 feet today.

Miles today: 52

Total miles: 1,219

I haven’t had a day off. Tomorrow we plan on riding only 28 miles.

No Name Tour: Day 18 -Sailing the Prairie Winds on Highway 93

After a fine Mexican dinner, we retired to the somewhat shabby Derrick Inn. The hotels heyday was at least 20 years ago by the looks of things.

No breakfast was in the offing so I snarfed a PB and Nutella burrito. Sweet T and Fedya left early in pursuit of a 100 mile day. Mark, Corey, and I had more modest plans.

Grain elevator in Ness City

Scott City was 56 miles west. If we felt good, we’d continue on another 24 miles to Leoti,

The day began with calm winds which quickly switched to a strong tailwind. We were riding due west on Highway 93.

I left a bit early and was caught by the dynamic duo after 7 1/2 miles. We then went at our own speeds. Mark hammering, Corey stopping to take pictures, me just cruising along. Depending on the wind I was going 14 to 17 miles per hour. I didn’t even notice that the road was trending uphill ever so slightly.

We stopped for breakfast in Dighton at a bowling alley with a diner. As we rolled into town we could see flags flapping in the wind.

Wisdom from a diner door

Off we road to Scott City. Wind at our backs. Trucking along. Gradually climbing. On Highway 93.

Scott City had a gas station convenience store so we stopped for drinks and snacks. We decided to keep rolling west even though the wind was now a crosswind from the south.

Grain elevator, bakery, bike art

24 miles. Up. West. Wheat. Fallow fields. Oil pumps. Grain elevators. Wind turbines. (There were few wind turbines in eastern Kansas. Many more out west.) The White line on the road hypnotizing The Mule and me.

We passed a few feed lots. Thousands of cattle gathered for fattening before slaughter. So depressing.

The first feedlot. Big but dwarfed by the next.

We rolled into Leoti after 80 miles. We simply could not have asked for a better riding day. Tired but not exhausted. After a stop at Dollar General for snacks and supplies (more peanut butter!), we found the town park and set up our tents in the wind. I struggled a bit with my new tent but Mark helped me. (Setting it up sideways into a 15 mph wind isn’t such a good idea.)

We have access to the rest rooms and showers at the hospital next door. So we cleaned up and ate a fine dinner of whatever we had stashed in our panniers. (For me, you guessed it, PB and Nutella on tortilla.)

I am 24 miles ahead of schedule but will be taking shorter days in the next 3 or 4 days to take advantage of free shelter.

We are not seeing any eastbound cyclist. Mark’s friend in Utah says the mountain passes on the western side of the Rockies are still snowed in. In a few days I’ll have to decide whether to chance taking my route west along the Western Express from Pueblo or call an audible and ride north along the TransAm.

We are now at 3,300 feet. Tomorrow we leave the Central Time zone, kiss Kansas goodbye, and enter Colorado.

Miles today: 80

Trip miles: 1,167