When I planned my itinerary, today’s ride was supposed to end after 56 miles in Pratt. I checked the weather app and found out that I’d have tailwinds and comfortable temperatures all morning. If I continued another 30 miles to Medicine Lodge I’d have good winds tomorrow when I head west to the Gyp Hills.
After breakfast (two huge bowls of Cheerios. a banana, and several cups of coffee, I headed south out of Hutchinson on Main Street a little after 8 a.m.
About a half mile into the ride I could hear the unmistakable sound of a dog huffing and puffing. A short haired, medium size dog was joyfully running its ass off to keep pace with me. This went on for at least a half mile. Then he turned down a side street still chugging away. A weird start to the day.
My route involved highways all the way. At first I was on US 50. Lots of trucks, but no worries: it had a 12-foot paved shoulder. US 50 headed west after a few miles and I took Kansas Highway 61 south. My paved shoulder went down to 8 feet. Traffic was lighter but twice I was passed by absurdly wide vehicles. One was a farm machine that looked like a giant insect. It had at least a 6-foot clearance under the cab and was more than a lane wide. The other was a tractor pulling a trailer with a wide red machine on the back. Both vehicles gave me plenty of room.
Highway 61 followed a Union Pacific rail line all the way to Pratt. I was expecting evidence of flooding but there was hardly any. New state motto: Kansas: We Do Drainage.
The pavement could not have been smoother or flatter. The Mule trucked along at 15 mph. The tailwind and blue skies lifted my spirits. The riding was effortless,
The shoulder eventually narrowed to three feet but there was no rumble strip to deal with so I had plenty of room to roll.
For the last several days there have been small, bird-pecking oil wells in the fields. The number increased as I moved south.
I arrived in Pratt a little after noon. 56 miles before 12:30 is insane. When I came to a WalMart, I stopped to inspect my left pedal. It was holding up just fine and not making any suspicious noises. So I moved on.
I asked a police officer where I could buy breakfast. The only place was three miles west of town. So I settled for McDonalds which I happened to be standing next to.
A quarter pounder with bacon, fries, and a half gallon of Diet Coke for $9. And two water bottles filled with cold water to boot. Burp.
Continuing on to Medicine Lodge was an easy decision to make. I rolled down Main Street in Pratt. It could have been any Main Street in any city in Kansas. Every other store was empty. Cars were parked diagonally signaling this was once a vibrant commercial area.
The ride to Medicine Lodge was slower. I had called ahead to book a room at a motel so there as no hurry. I had an occasional light headwind which seemed only fair after the morning. With each passing mile the terrain became less flat farms and more rolling fields with trees scattered about. This area clearly gets more rainfall than farther north.
With ten miles to go the road started rolling up and down and side to side as I entered a hillier area. There weren’t any granny worthy hills, just a few middle ringers.
I am now very much in Trump/conspiracy nut country based on some of the yard signs I was seeing. I think I’ll stay out of the bars in town tonight.
I’m pretty impressed with how my body’s holding up. An achy shoulder now and then. A sore left calf. Pretty much run of the mill stuff. I will confess to feeling a bit wobbly when I dismounted at the motel. I feel more like I did in 2018 than in 2019.
Speaking of the motel, it looks like a place where murders are committed (Stuff her body in the trunk, Roscoe.) Other than a threadbare carpet, the room is quite acceptable. I promise I’ll duck if I hear gunfire.
Miles today: 88. Total tour miles: 787 in 12 days.