Getting out of Dodge on US 50 in the afternoon
I'm writing this up as a one day ride web page even though I rode it in two days. This ride is about 90 miles with 100 feet of climbing. I rode 20 miles with 500 feet of climbing the first day and 70 miles with 500 feet of climbing the second day. I spent my morning in Dodge working on the Woodward to Dodge web page, then I rode up to Dodge City Community College to visit with an old friend who works there. I didn't get out of Dodge until mid-day. Then I rode to Cimarron, ate lunch, and visited with another old friend. I spent the night with that friend and rode from Cimarron to Scott City the next day. My knees needed some recovery time and the primary purpose of this tour is to visit with old friends. I had really nice visits in Dodge and in Cimarron and it looks like I may be meeting another old friend from Dodge on the road the day after tomorrow.
Leaving Cimarron the next morning
It was hotter and windier yesterday afternoon than this morning, but, in both cases I had a tail-side wind to keep me cool and help me down the road. This wind was out of the south-east which, when you are headed north and west, is a pretty good wind! This afternoon, when I was about fifteen miles from Scott City, heading north, the wind came around to the east and then the north-east. That is strange for southwestern Kansas in the summer. The wind was also lighter than usual (usual = 15 mph) today, something my friend Bernie in Cimarron says has been common this spring. I hope I get lighter winds tomorrow as well since I'll be riding due west and a strong south wind will make that difficult.
On US 50, from Dodge City to Garden City, a strong south wind can make riding very dangerous. There is a 20 mile section, between Cimarron and Pierceville that has only a small shoulder. That shoulder is enough when the wind is not coming across the road at 15-20 mph. Although it can be disconcerting, and smelly, to be passed by a cattle truck going 65 mph a few feet away from your bike, it really isn't very dangerous except when there is a strong cross wind coming across the road. When one of those big trucks passes you, you can go from a 20 mph side wind to a tail wind. The sudden blocking of the side wind makes your bike swerve out into the road and, in this case, towards a big truck moving fast a few feet away. To be fair, most truck drivers are aware of this problem and will not pass a bicycle the same lane when they can avoid it. However, there are times when they can't avoid it and there are cattle truck drivers who don't like bicyclist, so I won't ride west on Us 50 under those conditions.
The great shoulder goes away shortly after
Cimarron to be replaced by this smaller shoulder for the next 20
Cross winds and big truck traffic make this 20 miles of possibly dangerous riding
I would NOT ride it during the week with a strong south wind, and a strong south wind is the normal summer wind here.
The back end of a Combine Crew Caravan heading north on 83 towards Scott city
My problem today with riding on a small shoulder wasn't the wind, or the cattle trucks, although two of them blew their horns at me on that stretch. It was the Combine crews coming into the area to help with the wheat harvest. Combines are big thing that, when transported on a big truck, are wider than a normal lane. I bailed out, onto the weed covered shoulder - no big deal, three times on that 20 mile stretch to let Combine crews, which typically consist of a couple of trucks carrying combines, a couple of wheat trucks for hauling the grain to the elevators, a mobile home or two for the crew to live in, and car or two for transporting crew. There are a lot of crews on the roads around here right now!
I went to a supermarket this evening to get some supplies and, when checking, out, the checker assumed I was part of a Combine Crew. That was a logical assumption in Scott City at this time of year when she saw someone she didn't know who looked fit and very tanned. That store had a big sign saying Welcome B.A.K. and having a picture of bicycle. That explains the dozens of riders I saw riding towards Cimarron on my way to Garden. Bike Across Kansas. They were on the, safer, south side of the road, but they had a side-head wind all day today. Welcome to biking in south western Kansas!
This is the Garden City Bypass, good riding except for debris on the wide shoulder
I stopped for second breakfast/lunch at a restaurant just past the Garden City Bypass. Bernie recommended it ;-}. It was good and they kept refilling my large glass of iced tea. My ride today was in two parts, each with about 35 miles without services. The riding conditions were good enough that I only need two water bottles to carry water for each part, but having a quart or two of tea with lunch helped too ;-}. After lunch, I rode back to the bypass and headed for Scott City.
Riding on the bypass and KS 83 to Scott City was pretty good, except for the last fifteen miles or so when the wind started to slow me down. I had stopped, in a wheat field just before that to snack and take some pictures. I stopped at that particular place because I was being overhauled by a tractor hauling a wheat trailer. In addition to the Combine Crews, I shared shoulders to day with a variety of farm equipment, most of moving about 20 mph while I was averaging about 14. It was a very good day to have a good rearview mirror!
Having a rearview mirror wasn't enough when I was head down, on the drops, fighting a strong side wind from the east and some jerk in a pickup entertained himself by coming within a foot of me 65 mph and blowing his horn. It was good that the side-wind I was fighting was not coming across the road because, if he'd cut off the wind that I was fighting, he probably would have killed me. I had a couple of big dump truck drivers come way too close in Alabama, and because of the size of their vehicles, that was probably more dangerous to me that this close pass which was over before I could react. Still, it kind of spoils my mood when some one deliberately comes too close and tries to scare me. I really don't get upset at all by folks who blow their horns or shout obscenities at me as long as they don't put me at risk. This fellow put me at risk.
Truck tire debris on 83
Although 83 has wide shoulders, they are rough and have a lot of truck tire debris on them. this is the third time I've ridden this road while touring and, the first time, I had a flat tire as a result of that debris. Today I rode in on, or just outside of the while line when there was no oncoming traffic and moved over to the middle of the shoulder when there was traffic coming up behind me and oncoming traffic. When the jerk came to close my bike was completely on the shoulder and there was no oncoming traffic. I had one cattle truck that blew its horn as it passed me, perhaps because he didn't like having to move over a few feet, but all the other traffic that passed me was fine and one of the Combine Crews - I moved over to the outer edge of the shoulder for them - tooted its thanks.
This is what the wheat harvest is all about: Heavy heads of grain ready for a combine to cut and separate the wheat from the chafe
One quarter of a center pivot irrigated wheat field
ready for harvesting about 15 miles south of Scott City
The second image is a blow-up of the center part of the irrigation system which stretches across almost the entire image above it
When I got Scott City, I had decided to eat a second meal and then consider my options about going on to Tribune, KS. In Cimarron, Bernie had talked about how good the new Wendys' Foccaia (sp?) sandwiches are and I had commented that I wasn't likely to find a Wendys on my route to Colorado. I was wrong. There is now a Wendys in Scott City. I stopped and ordered the sandwich Bernie recommended and a Frosty Float. I throughly enjoy my meal and walked out of Wendys intending to get on down the road to Tribune. Then I got on my bike and tried to pedal.
Some of the muscles near my left knee hurt. They hurt a lot. Obviously this was not serious, but it did sort of put a damper on my ambition to ride 46 more miles. I rode on north through town, checked out the motel situation - I stayed here once before, but I hadn't had my GPS to tell me where the motels were then - and tried riding west. The tail wind wasn't that great, it was damn hot, and my knee hurt, so I rode to an inexpensive motel near the east end of town - tail-winds are always much more impressive as head winds - and checked in.