Saturday, 9 July 2011

Day 37: In splendid isolation

Day 37
Hutchinson to Larned 71miles

Last night went out for a beer and met up with Jerry and his wife Stephanie. She was particularly excited having test driven a lovely looking convertible Camaro earlier in the day. I dont think Jerry is going to be able to stop her getting it! One thing that amazed me was that in the US, you have to pay tax on lottery winnings! Had a great night with them, and headed back to the church for an earlyish night.

Alarm went off at 5.45am and I grudgingly got ready to go. At least this morning it only due to the earliness of the day. Definitely felt a lot fresher after my day off yesterday.

On the road by 6.30, and was happy to see a nice light cloud covering and even the slightest hint of rain. Dropped the church key off at the bike shop, and then hit the main road to Nickerson. It became clear that today's riding was going to be flat. Very flat. I think this was what people were talking about when saying Kansas was flat. The road barely deviated from being flat all day. Although, even this is still slightly incorrect. From now until I reach Pueblo, the whole land slopes very gently uphill. But its so gentle you cant actually notice it. Today I did 70miles and in doing so rose about 150metres in elevation at a very constant rate. So it only works out at about 2metres of gain per mile. Which is pretty easy climbing!

Today the wind was also kind of with me. I was blowing out of the south-east, but more south than east. So it was blowing across me a bit, but still giving me a gentle westbound push. There was one little section of road, probably less than ¼ of a mile, where I actually had to go south, and it was the hardest part of the whole day! Would be difficult with that in your face all day!

Anyway, back to the riding. Saw a weird farm place just before Nickerson, with zebras and camels in its pens!
Not sure zebras are native to North America

Once I got to Nickerson, I got some breakfast and stocked up on fluids. I was now about to start this 58mile stretch, most of it on a straight road, with no services. So filled up my water bottles, got a couple of Gatorades to put in my panniers and also a small amount of food (always tend to get thirsty rather than hungry when on the road).

But if I had to choose the conditions under which I did 58miles with nowhere to buy supplies, it would be on a flat road with a tailwind and some light cloud cover to stop the worst of the sun. Which is exactly what I had thankfully. There was the odd farmhouse which I could have used to get water if desperate, but actually when I got to Larned I still had one water bottle and one gatorade left.

The riding itself was lovely. The sparse beauty of Kansas was in full effect, and I was able to keep up an excellent steady pace. The road was so even-paced that I hardly ever even needed to change gear. Which gave me plenty of time for looking around. Kansas is called the “Sunflower State”, and there was evidence of that today. It was amazing to see them all aimed directly at the sun, all in perfect orientation.

The road I was on was also very quiet with regards to car traffic. I could go miles at a time without seeing another person. In a way, this is kind of what I imagined cycling across the states would be like – long open roads spreading out before me in the countryside. All in all, a great day in the saddle. The 70miles seemed to fly by. I'm not sure that would have been the case had I not taken yesterday off.
This is where I came from

And this is where I was going

Made it to Larned around lunchtime. Spent the afternoon chilling by the pool and keeping out of the heat. Went to the shops in the afternoon and a sign outside one bank said it was 102f – almost 39centigrade! Last night I did check the weather conditions for places a bit further along the route (and higher up in altitude) and they were much cooler, so that will hopefully be something to look forward to.

Probably just chill out this evening, get some food and get ready for another early start tomorrow. Going to try for 90miles tomorrow, which by all accounts will be much like today. A long straight road which slopes gently uphill.

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