A major landmark – we hit our first 100 miles day crossing Kansas with (at last!!!) a favourable tailwind. It had been in the offing for a while, but today the gods smiled on us, as they did last night finding us a superb place to stay at the Newton Bike Shop. James’s wife, Heather, came in just after 7am to wave us goodbye, so after signing the bike shop wall the four amigos set off for another day on the trail.
All the signs were good, cool air, easterly winds and mainly flat terrain. We decided to head to Nickerson almost 50 miles away before making the final decision on whether to push onto Larned. There are no services for the last 58 miles so we had to make the right call before venturing into ‘No Mans Land’. The day would either be a below fifty or top a ton.
On the run to Nickerson we met up with father and son Mike and David Krause from Denver on route from Pueblo to Yorktown. A little further down the trail we passed a group of around 10 racing cyclists from Hutchinson heading west. We waved and thought nothing more of it, until suddenly the four of us had become fourteen. To a man they’d turned round, caught us up and were now alongside chatting to us as we rode asking where we going, where we started, where we came from. It was a terrific experience – could you ever imagine that happening in the UK?
In Buhler, a car pulled up driven by a nan who had passed us further back down the trail. Would we like to join a Christian service taking place in the town park – there would be plenty of food. It was a tempting offer, but sadly with so many miles to do, one we would have to decline. So we headed onto Nickerson and into a diner for lunch, signing the guest book and sticking a pin in a map to show where we had come from.
With the weather still looming good and it being only around 2.30pm the decision was made – we were going for Larned and the magic 100. After buying Powerade in the local store, buying lemonade from a young boy selling it in the street and chatting to Mike, who had just turned up in his recumbent, we set off to make the crossing.
We are now beginning to see those huge Kansas wheat fields we’ve been told so much about. But the landscape us still varied, with woodland, area of sandy ridges, cattle grazing and scores of oil derricks reaching deep below for black gold. At Quivira National Wildlife Reserve Terry and I stopped to take a look, but sadly we were still several miles from the giant inland lakes which are so important for migratory birds. However we did see a deer dart across the road – and bagged a shot if the ubiquitous vulture.
I spent most of the afternoon cycling with Mike from Chicago, who had caught up with us, talking about the trip, photography and the difficulty of finding any decent food on route. Just after six thirty we passed a huge cattle feeding area, although I should say we smelt if first – from miles away. The aroma (ok stench) stayed with us as we rode into Larned, but we were all too pleased to have done a hundred miles in a day to notice that much.
With a major storm threatening to hit around midnight, we begun to search for a roof and found ourselves in the Church of the Nazerene where my request for shelter prompted a committee meeting of parishioners on what they should do (they’d not had cyclists stay there before) and ended up giving us a voucher to take to the Sheriff which would give us a room at a local motel.
It was an incredible gesture and totally unexpected.
So soon we were checking in and managed to share two rooms between five – Jerry and Jonathan in one – Terry and Mike and I in the other. Roof secured we then headed out to Pizza Hut where thousands of calories burnt soon became thousands of calories consumed. But boy did it feel good!
Today’s miles: 107
Total miles since First Landing 1938