Upon arriving in Leoti, I pitched my tent in the town park (my repair worked!) and went to take a shower in the adjacent mini-hospital. The nurse in charge wouldn’t let me use the shower, presumably out of Covid concerns. (I was wearing better protection, an N95 respirator mask, than the hospital staff. Go figure.)
I was dispatched to the swimming pool where I took a very cold shower. I felt rather like George Costanza when I was done.
I had dinner at the town bakery, where I ate in 2019. When I left for the bakery the skies were partly cloudy when I returned they were black.
I quickly got into my tent then all hell broke loose. Big gusty winds and a mighty rain ensued. I hoped that I set up the tent properly and that it didn’t leak. Yes on both counts.
After an hour I took an Advil PM and re-emerged. I could see the next wave of storms bearing down. Back in the tent I went. Another raging storm came through. My tent held firm and dry. With ear plugs in and eye mask on I fell asleep until 3 a.m. It was still raining, but not inside my little sanctuary.
I arose with the birds and twiddled my thumbs until the town diner opened at 7. It had a big circular table where ten large men gathered to discuss whatever men discuss. Every single small town has this.
Back at the park I was packing up and about to leave when Bob Eakins rolled up. Bob and I met in Monticello, Utah in 2019. He had just finished riding from Sacramento and was DONE, exhausted mentally and physically. It made me wonder what I was about to get myself into. I felt the same as Bob when I arrived in San Francisco.
Bob is riding west to east from Pueblo. I thought he was well to the east by now but he rides relatively short days. A bit surprising considering his relative youth – he’s 65.
After an hour he returned to his motel room and I headed straight west on Kansas Highway 96. Into a headwind of course. I was working hard, curiously taking big gulps of fresh air.
The farms on either side of the road went on forever and the sky was picture pretty with puffy white clouds. Every so often one of the clouds would block the sun and the temperature would drop. Aah.
I arrived 23 miles later in Tribune where I stopped for lunch. Chicken strips and green beans. Fine dining.
Tribune is in Greeley County. I lit out west on 96 and soon passed the small town of Horace. Go west young man indeed.
The wind was more of a cross wind after lunch but I still seemed to be working awfully hard. A reward of sorts came when I left Kansas and entered Colorado. I will Kansas no more forever. (Except on the 50 States Ride, of course.)
In Colorado the road had expansion joints, what every cyclist’s ass hates. Thankfully they didn’t continue for more than a few miles. I was passed by oncoming farm equipment that looked like Transformers.
I arrived in Sheridan Lake, population 88 if you count the pets, and chatted with the clerk in the town gas station/convenience store. She grew up in Towner, which I had passed through a few miles previously. Towner’s population is 22.
On the way into the store I waved to a bicycle tourist coming from the west. He and I are staying at the Sheridan Lake Bible Church which has hosted bike tourists every summer for many years.
My east bound friend is Mike, from Switzerland. He’s a fascinating man. He trekked in Nepal, visited Cambodia and Vietnam, flew to Los Angeles, then flew to Denver where he bought a bike and a Burley flat bed trailer and set out across America. Mike had a catalytic converter business in Europe that he sold in 2005. There’s no future in it, he rationalized. His mother’s side of the family developed the Schindler company, a manufacturing conglomerate. Among other things they make escalators and elevators. I wonder if my 2018 bike tour friend Martin who worked in elevator repair in Switzerland worked for Schindler. It would be an interesting coincidence.
Ernie, the pastor of the church came by and chatted for a long time. He has all kinds of stories about bike tourists who’ve stayed here. Imagine living in the middle of nowhere and meeting people from all over the world.
Mike is camping outside despite the threat of bad weather. He doesn’t like to sleep on the floor. He knows a thing or two about bad weather; he sailed across the Atlantic twice.
For those of you who think I’m a little old to be doing this, Mike is 85.
I’m now at 4,071 feet. I gained about 700 feet today. Gotta gulp that air now.
Today’s miles: 54. Tour miles: 1,006.