May 11 - 19: Kansas

5/16 - Eureka (106.5 miles 1699.5 total)
conditions conspired to make this a pretty manageable century. when we left newton 6:15-6:30, the temperature was 60 & it got up to only 75 by late afternoon, so it stayed cool. the sky was overcast most all day. winds were pretty strong, but mostly out of the south & southeast, so we had great tailwinds part of the time & crosswinds the rest of the time. no one sagged all day despite the high mileage. for many in our group, it was their first 100-mile day ever!
the first 20 miles out of newton was on a stretch of very rough pavement with lots of potholes. considering all the Gold Bond powder that's being dumped into bike shorts by several of our riders, i bet the dust didn't settle on that stretch of rough road 'til late morning.
while i'm on the subject...definitely a sore turns out that, of the body parts that are most troublesome on this ride, posteriors take the prize. several riders are icing their knees most nights to keep knee pain & stiffness down, but by far the majority of complaints is about seats. early in this trip i was the only "powderbutt"...having been a fan of gold bond powder for years. it helps control moisture & chafing & therefore eliminates (at least for me) the "road rash" that aggravates so many riders. several of our group use ointments...desitin & A&D. patty fainer was kidding this afternoon that she now needs a putty knife to scrape off some sort of mixture that she has created by using both desitin & powder at the same time.
soreness & aching of seat bones are other common problems; the only way to solve those is to get off your bike every once in a while....& to make sure you have a bike seat that fits you & your riding style. i'm very fortunate on all accounts...with my "chubby cheeks" bike seat, lots of gold bond powder, & frequent stretching stops off the bike seat. unfortunately, posterior perplexities will plague us 'til we get to oregon. we'll find stopgaps but there'll be no solutions.
back to today----after those first 20 miles on the rough road with quite a lot of traffic, we spent the rest of the day almost entirely on a thread of highway that went straight west indefinitely. there was one half-mile stretch that jogged south; that gave us a good taste of what headwinds would've been like today. in my next-to-lowest granny gear i was able to do 6 mph on that stretch. few would have accomplished century rides today if our route had been southward.
one of the tiny towns we passed thru this morning was buhler; a sign proclaimed it the "glider rocker capital." kansas is certainly chockful of esoteric capitals. prairie chickens yesterday, glider rockers today!
at about mile 46 we came to nickerson, the main hope today for a food stop. when sari & i got to the sunshine cafe, many riders had already eaten & left. a few remained. we were delighted to find fresh pies on the back counter! gerrie raved about the warm peach pie a la mode she'd just eaten. i couldn't resist the mile-high meringues & chose a kind i'd never had....peanut-butter meringue. sari chose banana cream, also with a towering meringue on it.
in the photo you'll see, from left, gerrie, carol (more about her later), linda, & rose. they're holding sari's & my pies so you can see the meringues.
linda seems to think the camera wouldn't catch her trying to siphon off some of my pie.
at the restaurant we met carol. she was biking in the area & stopped at the restaurant when she saw some of our group enter. she told us about her cross-country ride last summer. she also went east to west....with adventure cycling. it was an outdoor camping trip. most riders had 4 panniers & carried everything on their bikes except food. carol told us that the climbs in the east were much more difficult than in colorado, because the latter are more gradual climbs. we loved hearing that the hardest part of our trip is behind us. she made our day.
this afternoon we rode for many miles through the Quivira wildlife refuge. talk about a deserted road. & it was straight as an arrow...with hardly ever a house let alone a town. how straight was it? once i found myself looking ahead & being elated at seeing a hill in the distance! after the past month i wouldn't have expected i could look forward to a hill so soon. straight & narrow can get a little boring after 30 miles or so.
often we'd hear the chug-chug-chug of an oil-well arm pumping in the middle of a wheat field. & once in a while we'd be treated to the sweet aroma of a blossom-laden locust tree. the most notable roadkill of today was a plump turkey planted in the middle of the road. don't know where he came from. judy said she saw some cattle egrets along the road once today....white birds that hang onto & around cattle & live off the insects that live off the cattle. that's several symbiotic relationships going on at the same time.
in this photo i was trying to give you an idea of how the terrain looked today. in the foreground are my & sari's bikes, with partly-eaten fruit sitting on bike bags, then a wheat field stretching forever, with trees at the horizon.
notice how much stuff we've got tucked into the bags on our bikes. you can see wadded-up rain jackets, socks, gloves, gorp-bags, & plastic bags full of you-name-it sticking out all over. sari has a bike bag on the back & another on the handlebars of her bike; she's prepared for anything.
once when we stopped at the subaru we noticed that the cattle grazing far off in the grassy field on the other side of the road starting loping over toward the fence. soon many of them were all lined up gazing at us, & lots of others from further back in that huge pasture were making their way in our direction, too. i 'spose we bikers were the biggest excitement they'd had in months. soon lee, judy, & patty fainer rode along;
in the photo you'll see all those cows giving them the eye.
after dozens of seat-relief & snack stops, sari & i finally got into larned around 5. this is a real cattle town; just on the outskirts we noticed a huge feed lot filled with cattle. along the highway we were often passed by huge trucks hauling what appeared to be cut hay. in downtown larned there are some towering silos that look like castles. i had hoped to visit fort larned nearby, but there wasn't time. our chef patty visited the fort this afternoon & said it was indeed very interesting.
what a relief to have that 100+-mile day behind us. i spotted a dairy queen on the way to the motel & vowed to return after supper. whenever i complete a century ride i deserve a mud pie blizzard (made with chocolate DQ). (& that's not the only time i deserve one; there's quite a list of deserving occasions.) it was a cool treat on a warm evening. we'll ride only 65 miles ness city & a layover day on thursday. as much as we all love biking, that layover day is looking mighty good.
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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