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ADT JOURNAL: CHAPTER 22
May 31, Saturday
The Clarks drove us back up to McPherson where we picked up our bikes and headed out of town. We have noticed that the wheat fields are now dotted with oil pumps which resemble giant grasshopper heads bobbing up and down. We've been wanting flat and today we got flat. It was green all the way to the horizon with just occasional clumps of trees to interrupt the expanse. Light easterly winds, mild temperatures, and sunny skies prevailed. About an hour out of McPherson Bill had a sudden blowout of his rear tire. Bill thinks he may have overpressurized the tube. We used our spare tire and tube to repair the damage and bought a new tire in the town of Lyons wherewe stopped for lunch. We ended the day in Ellinwood where we camped at the city park and took advantage of the town's swimming pool and showers. We were the only adults in the water which was brisk but refreshing. It seems each Kansas town has its own city park where there are bathrooms and which allow camping after we check with the local police. Each town also boasts of their local festival days which are called by a variety of names such as Prairie Days, Chief Wah-Shun-Gah Days, or Empire Beef Days.
58 miles, 13.4 mph, 4 hours 20 min 2005 miles total biked
June 1, Sunday
Today begins our fourth month on the ADT. This adventure began on March 1st. The day started at a local cafe where we ate breakfast. As we were leaving, the owner gave us two free cinnamon rolls to take with us. Our route this morning took us to Cheyenne Bottoms Wildife Refuge. This 30 square mile wetland is a major migratory waterfowl stopover and is the home for thousands of ducks, herons, muskrat, and many others. We even saw bass spawning in the weedy areas. On our way into Great Bend we saw a Lutheran Church and decided to attend their 10:30 am service. It turned out today was the annual church picnic to be held right after church was over and they invited us to stick around. More Kansas Trail Magic! Then, we rode south of town to the bridge over the Arkansas River. While in Kansas, as least, that's pronounced R-Kansas not Arkansaw. The river was just a tiny creek which really surprised us as the Arkansas drains a large part of the Rockies in southeast Colorado. We suspect most of the water gets sucked off by farmers upriver we shall see as we will follow it for the next 480 trail miles to Canon City, Colorado. The elevation at Great Bend is 1850 feet, at Canon City 5350 feet. The difference of 3500 feet is gained over 480 miles or less than 8 feet per mile. This is essentially flat! In contrast, one of our training rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway last winter ascended 3300 vertical feet in just 12 miles. After stopping to see the landmark rock, Pawnee Rock, with its views of the surrounding country, we spent the night at a nice clean cheap motel in Larned.
52.3 miles, 11.9 mph, 4 hours 23 min
June 2, Monday
It rained during the night. Last night we talked to Steve Hayward, the western Kansas ADT coordinator. We knew that some of the gravel roads on the ADT might be impassable because of the rain, so he suggested an alternate paved route. This route would bypass Dodge City which we have already visited, so it was no big loss to us. We left Larned and stopped at the Santa Fe Trail Museum. It described how this trail merged Mexican, Indian, and American cultures. Eventually, however, increased use and
development interfered with the indian way of life and brought conflict. We next stopped at Fort Larned which was built in the 1860's to protect the trail users on the Santa Fe Trail. Tony Cyphers showed us an excellent website he developed for the National Park Service. Check it out at http://www.nps.gov/fols. As we continued west, the wheat fields disappeared and were replaced with vast fields of buffalo grass. It was said that before the white man came to North America, up to 75 million buffalo roamed the Great Plains. At one point the herd was down to 1,100. Today there are around 50,000 buffalo in the U.S. Southwest winds helped push us along today and we made good time. We stopped at Jetmore, again getting a shower at the local swimming pool and camping in the city park.
51.9 miles, 13.5 mph, 3 hours 47 minutes
June 3, Tuesday
We awoke at 5 am to see a thunderstorm approaching from the west. At 5:15 the city siren blew which we took to be a tornado warning. We packed up our gear but decided the siren was really just calling the volunteer firemen. As the rains came we headed to a local convenience store for breakfast. Talking to some customers, we commented that they each carried a leather holster which contained a pair of pliers. They responded that the modern day ranchers have traded in their sixshooters for pliers and there wasn't much they couldn't fix given their pliers, some wire, and duct tape. After the storm passed, we headed out. The day was overcast and cool which helped us deal with the winds which came up later. It was 56 long miles to Garden City. Houses are becoming sparse and we passed only one very small community. At one point, we went 10 miles between farms. Locals at a small town Co-Op told us that there used to be houses every one to two miles but farms keep getting gobbled up by big conglomerates. Laurie then commented that she was surprised to see hills in western Kansas (on our paved route). One of the regulars looked quizzical. "we don't have any hills around here," he said, "though we do have some valleys." Whatever, the effect on the bike rider is the same. It's all a matter of perspective, I guess. We arrived in Garden City, had some minor repairs made on the bikes, and spent the night in a motel.
59.1 miles, 11.3 mph, 5 hours 12 min
June 4, Wednesday
We haven't taken a day off since May 25, over 400 miles ago and we were ready to take another. Instead of taking a day off, we decided to take 2 short days, so today we rode a short 25 miles to Lakin. We hope this doesn't turn out to be a bad decision as we were done riding by 11 am with a nice wind blowing out of the northeast. For any readers who may be directionally challenged, when riding bikes in a generally western direction, any wind that has "east" in its title is a good one. Laurie says she has never paid so much attention to flags and smoke as on this trip, as we are always interested in the wind direction. A common belief repeated to us by numerous friends is that the winds in Kansas always favor the rider who goes west to east. We have not found this to be true at all and have experienced only one or two days where we fought a serious headwind. Perhaps it's an unusual year or still early in the summer but we couldn't be more pleased with Kansas weather in general. We waited out a slight misty rain at a truckstop near Deerfield. Each of 8 booths had a payphone so we called everyone we knew with an 800 number. We complimented the truckers who were waiting about for their next assignment that we were pleased with the general courtesy level of truck drivers. Most have been passing us in the left lane when possible and none have come perilously close to us while passing. One driver commented "yeah, the paperwork involved with running over a bike rider these days just isn't worth it." After a quick tour of Lakin (it's a small town), we stopped for the night at Windy Heights B&B. Diane and Chuck were great Kansas hosts.
27.6 miles, 12.1 mph, 2 hours 15 min
June 5, Thursday
This was to be another short day to compensate for not taking a full day off. As it turned out, we ended up riding a full 54 miles, all on
gravel roads. Our destination was Syracuse where he planned to meet our son, Mick, and his wife, Kristin, who are using our van for a vacation to Colorado and Utah. They would meet us in Syracuse where we could spend some time together. We had beautiful weather again with southeast winds which fairly blew us along the smooth gravel roads. We stopped at the only store in Kendall, a town of 50 people, for a drink and conversation. It's hometown newspaper is a one page sheet, xeroxed off. Kendall's main employer, other than farming, is their fly factory. Not fishing flies. The closed down schoolhouse was bought out and is used to raise flies and larvae for fish hatcheries in Oregon. Some wasps are raised also we were told. We covered the 32 miles to Syracuse by 11:30 am, except they are on Mountain Daylight Time, so it was really only 10:30 am. We killed some time at the post office and the bank, and Bill got a haircut. We also talked with Sandy Dikeman, who runs the Chamber of Commerce and who is an avid ADT supporter. We also checked into our B&B and ate some lunch. Finally, with nothing else to do and it being only 12:15, we decided to ride to Coolidge, the last town in western Kansas. We stashed our panniers in our room and left a note for Mick and Kristin to pick us up in Coolidge when they arrived. Again, the gravel roads were pretty smooth and we made excellent time with our tailwind behind us and no cumbersome luggage on our bikes. At Coolidge, we parked our bikes at the local Co-Op grain elevator where they will be locked up for the night. Then, we hitchhiked back to Syracuse with the first passing car.While waiting for Mick and Kris to arrive, Bill typed the journal and sent it off to Pete for your reading enjoyment. Our arrival in Coolidge means we have finished the state of Kansas and we are finally past the halfway point of our trip. In some ways, the time has just flown by, but the prospect of having 3 1/2 more months away from home is a bit staggering.
54.7 miles 12.7 mph 4 hours 16 minutes 2254 total miles biked
© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1997, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet