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

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, Fedor 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 Burt 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 City 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