Storm Clouds Gather – Scott City to Sheridan Lake

The gathering storm – dark skies above Sheridan Lake, Kansas. Soon after all he’ll broke loose.

We are huddled in the porch of a church in Sheridan Lake, Colorado and a storm is howling outside. The sky has gone black, the trees are being whipped into a frenzy and tumble weeds are hurtling past the door quitting the town like they know something really bad is about to happen. I’m standing with Terry and Varney, the pastor’s wife who tells us they’ve not seen rain like this for months. Suddenly her son, VJ, reported that Splitter’s Farm, three miles away has been hit by a tornado.


Huge clouds of dust and dirt whipped up by the front of the storm

To our right the tail end of the storm is a green colour. “That means hail,” says VJ, who is more keen to tell us Brits about his love of Dr Who. But our eyes are transfixed on the front of the storm, which is stirring up great brown clouds in its path. Not rain, but made up of the dirt and dust it’s lifting from the ground and hurling skywards – and all the time, sheet lightning flashing, illuminating the scene against the gloom.


Extraordinary skies in the aftermath of the storm

To us it’s frightening. To the church’s parishioners, mostly local farmers, this is a godsend. Rain has been scarce in Sheridan Lake this year, so much so that there is no lake. Many farmers have lost their crops and times are hard. You only need to look around to gather the evidence, more abandoned buildings and the feel of a town struggling for a future. But this rain will help the main crops of wheat, corn millet and sunflowers – and by the time the storm ends even Sheridan Lake has returned to make a brief appearance.


Sheridan Bible Church provides sanctuary to its largest ever group of TransAm cyclists.

Inside,  the Sheridan Lake Bible church has become a sanctuary as twelve TransAmerican cyclists take cover – Terry and I, Jonathan and Jerry, Mike, Tuan and Jessica, Warren and Esther, who have been cycling round the world for four years, two East-bounders and Carl, the last to arrive after being caught out in the storm and rescued by a man in a pick-up truck. It makes you think what we’ve have done if we been caught out in the open. While cycling in this area you are always looking for cover should a storm strike, but the last twenty plus miles have offered nothing. We were lucky – and thanks to the church we are all safe.

Mountain time

We entered a different time zone today – we are now seven hours behind the UK.

The day had begun so differently. With high temperatures predicted we got up at the Athletico Club at 5.30am, headed into town for a diner and by 7am we were on the road for our last day in Kansas. As we passed Leoti, Tuan and Jessica joined the trail and by lunchtime we had around 45 miles under our belt already. With temperatures beginning to soar (and there is very little cover in Kansas) we stopped at Tribune, population 741, but boasting a gastro-pub (of sorts).


Zane is the first TransAm cyclist we’ve met going west-east from Oregon. The others started from further south to avoid mountain passes blocked with snow early in the year.

Sixteen miles later and we were in Colorado, our sixth state and a great excuse for photos. Mind you we were still on the same road – the 96 which we have followed for more than 300 miles. On route today we met our first true West-East TransAm cyclist, Zane, from Eugine, Oregon. A good tailwind took us into Sheridan Lake (which looked rather like an Antarctic base) and half and hour later all hell broke lose.

But there is always an upside and this one was great – 12 TransAm cyclists, sheltered together in church for the night eating food (Terry and I grabbed Pizza from the local convenience store) and swopping trail stories.

Today’s miles: 76
Miles since First Landing: 2134

Written by Paul


  1. Guys great news on a new state, keep going your clocking up the miles and breaking the back of the ride now. It’s sounds fantastic from Essex guys. Keep on Cycling

  2. It’s a real joy to read your blogs every morning over breakfast – feeling like a proper armchair cyclist – you’re really conveying a lot of the excitement and a feeling of “being there” and I don’t have to put in any effort! Keep going – very pleased to see that you’re getting close to the Rockies.

  3. All riveting stuff – please keep the blog going. I’ve just read the whole thing from the beginning and am pleased to have “caught up” (something I doubt I could do on two wheels).

    The hospitality you’re being shown over there is amazing and puts us reserved Brits to shame.

    Oh – Happy (belated) Birthday, Terry!

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