100 miles from Alexander KS to Leoti KS. (Pronounced like ray liotta)
If there was such a day, this is the day we would run into the Wicked Witch of the West.
8 miles to a soda machine for a much needed coke for Jacob, 35 miles to a shady spot for a rest. 50 miles to a Kwik Stop convenience store break.
On day 23 Jacob was bitten by a horse fly. As he swatted it away, he lost his right ear piece for his headphones. Gone. Needle in a haystack to look for it. Today Jacob swatted at another bug and lost his left one. Gone. Bye bye music. Hello instead to (as Jacob describes them) “the voices” inside his head.
Now to quiet the voices, Jacob talks to me about the Homestead Act. We debate about whether or not either of us would have made the journey out west back in the day. Then he speaks to me as if he was writing from the west to a friend back east… “To my dearest friend Robin…life here is splendid” etc. Now I kinda wanted to silence the Jacob voice at this point.
SW Kansas… desolate, hot and windy. The winds mainly blew in a north-easterly direction. Well, isn’t that just perfect since we are going to the south west?!? It was tough to even maintain 10mph.
When big mack trucks passed us going 70mph in the opposite direction it felt like running into a hot brick wall. We literally would stop pedaling for a few seconds in order to bring all attention to controlling our steering… gotta keep going straight and not veer off the road. The truck wind could move our biking line six inches to a foot or more.
The other thing about Kansas is that the terrain generally goes uphill from east to west. It looks totally flat, and sometimes it is, but we’re “going up” most of the time. Sometimes it feels like we’re on an incline even when it’s not…or it’s just a really gradual one. We can see miles to the horizon. Sometimes we look at the horizon and think “oh, if we just make it there to the to of this crest we will get some relief and go downhill for a bit”. Nope. That “crest” is just the curvature of the earth. We just get to keep pedaling against the wind and maybe slightly up until the end of the map.
The terrain actually reminds me of the ocean. A green prairie ocean on either side (no trees) with the road a straight as an arrow endless boardwalk out to sea. Sometimes I half expect to see the tip of Christopher Columbus’s sail boat cresting the horizon.
We did find shade in Scott County (hi to my little bro Scott!) about 24 miles from our destination. We walked the bikes thorough some grass to the shade of a cute little tree.
After our rest, Jacob’s rear tire goes flat. As he’s fixing it I notice my rear tire going flat. It seems we had walked our bikes through a thorn patch! Jacob’s front tire also went flat. Yikes, that was no good. We picked about 60 thorns out of the tires.
This means we ride into the night. 7p and 24 miles still left to go. “Ain’t no thing but a chicken wing” is our saying. We flew though the last miles, used lights, watched the gorgeous sunset with windmills in the background, and made it to camp around 9:15p. This sunset ride was one of my favorite parts about the whole trip so far.
Wicked Witch, where you at? Missed ya…or was that you with the thorns?