May 11 - 19: Kansas

5/11 - Pittsburg (62 miles 1396 total)
patti fixed the makings so we could each create our own breakfast burritos this morning...always a treat. winds were already pretty brisk as we left town between 6:30-7. little did we realize what we were in for.
the ozarks weren't going to let us go without a few more reminders of what nice steep hills are like.
this photo shows a sight you don't want greeting you early on a 62-mi biking day. there are some bikers inching up the other side, but you probably can't see them.
after about 14 miles of hills, the terrain flattened out. but by then we were in the grip of ferociously strong southerly winds that plagued us the entire day. 2 riders didn't bike at all today, 3-4 others sagged in from different points on the route. patty stopped the van to pick up a couple of riders 15 miles out; she quipped that if our route had been heading north we'd be in canada by now. after we got to pittsburg late afternoon i called the local airport; they said that winds today had gusted up to 40-45 mph. i think those winds back in missouri were stronger. that's where we were most of today.
several riders got pushed by the wind gusts onto the side of the road. sari just barely was able to get her foot unclipped & into the grass to keep herself from toppling over after a gust moved her off the road. when big trucks went by you had to hold onto your handlebars & keep your wits about you, because a vacuum was created beside the truck that tended to pull you into it. thinking back, hills are easier than heavy winds; with hills you get a chance to coast once in a while, but never with high winds like today's. this evening everyone's knees ache from constant pedalling, & our arms, wrists, & hands hurt, too, from gripping the handlebars so tight all the time. once today when sari & i stopped, i looked back at her & noticed that her sunglasses were riding down on the tip of her nose. she pointed out that she couldn't take either hand off the handlebars to push them back because she had to maintain a constant tight grip on her handlebars. the winds were just plain scary most of the day; now i know how dorothy & toto felt.
there was a four-mile bright spot in today's ride. at about 22 mi we turned north to the little town of golden city. we only had to sit on our bike seats & rest our feet on the pedals & we got pushed along at 20 mph. golden city provided another bright spot...cooky's cafe, with a lineup of fresh, homebaked pies like you've never seen...over a dozen. sari & i both picked gooseberry. it reminded us each of our childhood & pies our grandmothers or mothers used to bake. cooky's gooseberry pie was warm & scrumptious.
golden city was the only town on today's route. after leaving there it was over 35 miles of no towns or services....but lots of wind. linda came by in the subaru every once in a while to offer snacks, water, gatorade, & moral support.
there were a few things i noticed today besides the wind. one was turtles. i picked up 5 more of them, making the total now 21.
something else i noticed was fields of corn; reminded me of home (iowa). the little corn stalkettes i saw today were about ankle-high. a turkey vulture also caught my eye; he had come down to clean up some roadkill & didn't want to lift off without it.
today's scary dog was a huge dalmatian. he had to be a cross between a dalmatian & a draft horse; i'm sure he eats regular-sized dalmatians for breakfast. when sari & i were spinning up that 4-mi stretch with tailwinds behind us, i heard the always-alarming sound of an animal running up beside me. i also heard sari shouting 'no, no' so i knew it was a dog. i looked to the side & saw that huge spotted animal & shouted a few 'NO's' of my own. fortunately he veered off our trail shortly thereafter.
FINALLY we approached kansas. just at the state line we came across a little gas station/convenience store. we thot it was a mirage. we fell off our bike seats & hobbled inside to use the restroom & get something to drink. i polished off a pint of chocolate milk in no time......whole chocolate milk, fat calories & all.
just around the bend we stopped to get pictures verifying our passage into our 5th state--kansas.
that's me holding my bike so it wouldn't topple in the wind. i'll blame the hairstyle on the wind, too.
pittsburg is about 5 mi into kansas. yesterday gloria had ascertained where the local bike shop was & warned them that bunches of us would be hoping to make use of their services. we were able to stop at the shop on our way to the motel to talk to the mechanic & leave our bikes, then the motel van picked us up. what a deal! that poor mechanic is going to be working nonstop thru late tomorrow afternoon to get all our bikes fixed &/or checked over.......but boy are we happy!
joan is making us all quite jealous. back at breaks park she received a lovely easter basket from her grandchildren. today a package arrived for mother's day. it was a collection of fancy cookies.
here's a photo of the beaming mom/grandma. you'll notice deanna looking on.
what a fantastic meal patty fixed this evening.....crab-filled raviolis, those luscious green salads, steamed multi-colored peppers & zuchini, & hot rolls. the motel was nice enough to let us dine in their large meeting room; our food would have blown off our plates if we'd been sitting outside as we usually do. patty baked & frosted a chocolate cake for bob & lee's anniversary. the only thing missing: bob & lee. bob came to visit lee yesterday from their home in new mexico for their 25th anniversary. we had hoped they'd join us for supper tonight, but nope.
so here, bob &'s a photo of patty holding your 25th anniversary cake before we all enjoyed eating it. didn't she do a great job decorating it?
picture yourselves in those 2 empty chairs beside her; that's what WE did. & congratulations on your anniversary from all of us.
our motel is across the street from a mall. word already has it that there's a good deli there. this afternoon sarah & others saw a movie at a mall theatre & have plans to see more flicks tomorrow on our layover day. sarah is organizing a group to go to a highly recommended asian restaurant for dinner. i plan to do some wash & i don't know what else, but it won't be much. after today's ride we're all REALLY looking forward to a do-little-or-nothing kind of day.
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, or if you would like text-only versions of these daily reports e-mailed to you, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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