The name of the game in Kansas is certainly wind. Sometimes you're gritting your teeth trying to keep forward momentum while being buffeted by wind gusts. Other times you are cruising at nearly 20mph and don't realize that you've been riding a tailwind for an hour. Fortunately there are few turns to make or miss in Kansas so zoning out doesn't have dire consequences. Most of the time though, there's this annoying cross wind from the south west. Enough to slow you down. Enough to push you towards the edge of the road constantly. No help whatsoever. Most folks I run into are just rolling with the punches. A couple of folks vent their frustrations. When I asked one young guy how the riding was, he just lowered his head into his hands with resigned dejection. I didn't press the issue.
Thoughts on Kansas vary wildly. One Kansan, Chuck, who was talking to me about my ride and generously bought me breakfast in Chanute said something to the effect that "eastern Kansas is beautiful and there's plenty to look at but western Kansas is just flat and boring". One rider told me that he felt that "Kansas is just a state that is in the way of where you want to go". A man who had previously owned a bicycle shop said that "most cross country riders agree that the locals are the nicest but hate Kansas for the wind and lack of scenery". Oh man, why does Kansas keep getting such a bad rap? I guess since I have no itinerary or place to get to and my goal on this trip was to enjoy the areas that I ride through and meet people, I have gotten a different picture.
I think that eastern Kansas is absolutely beautiful with the rolling Flint Hills, the bluestem grasses, the herds of grazing cattle and the charming folks who populate it. And I've driven across western Kansas a few times so I know what I am in for. Last year when I was roadtripping, I purposefully spent two or three days in Kansas just to force myself to take in and appreciate the state. There is plenty of natural beauty here. And where traditional natural beauty doesn't exist, the starkness of the flat pastoral landscapes has a beauty of its own. Don't laugh. Plenty of people love the desert for the nothingness out there. Either way, I still have about 400 miles or more of beautiful starkness to ride through so I can contemplate my theory further.
|I think this was from Farmington, MO, but you get the idea. I think it's been over 100 every day for the past week at least.|
|I have an odd fascination with older motels. I don't know why. Not crappy motels. Old motels. I've got a story about a crappy motel on this trip that maybe I'll tell sometime.|
|Yeah, so just head straight for like 40 miles. Stop at the first town you see.|
|Hanging out with Jade, John and Tamar who used Meetup to put a group together to ride from Boston to San Francisco. Eureka, KS|
|See? Kansas isn't totally flat or devoid of scenery. These are the Flint Hills of the eastern half of the state.|
|I did not know that. Cassoday is a town that you need to stop in before riding a 40 miles stretch with nothing along it. Tomorrow I'm going to ride a 60 miles stretch of limited civilization. Just wait for Wyoming...|
|I'm fairly certain I would run into Dr. Evil or James Bond there. Hutchinson, KS|
|Very much alive and well and having the time of my life!|
|I am not exaggerating when I say that I have been dreaming of insulated water bottles for the past 300 miles. At long last, Harley's hooked me up. This may further prolong my complete desiccation.|