A natural gas compression and pumping
station near Scott City
This area has the largest natural gas fields in the Americas
I really lucked out on weather today. It was a long day - 104 miles with 1500 feet of climbing - but a fairly easy one which took about 8 hours of actual riding time and nine and a half hours of clock time. I was worried that I would have to ride this 100 miles with high temperatures and a strong wind from the south, but I had cool to moderate temperatures and a moderate wind from the north-east. I did meet a number of tourists on the road today - since the road is Bike '76 that isn't too surprising - all heading east and suffering from the wind, but this was, but local standards, even a pretty good day for them. It could have been so much worse...
I'm on Bike '76 or 'the trans-am' as these
folks know it, so I met half a dozen bicycle tourists today
I'm sure that is more than I will meet on all the other days of this tour, combined
I went to the restaurant next to my motel for breakfast and found it packed with folks involved with the harvest. There were no empty tables, so I asked an older fellow if I could sit with him. He said sure and we had a good visit, and a good breakfast. Just as I was getting ready to leave the table, I saw a tourist ride by heading east on a bicycle with four Ortlieb panniers. He wasn't going very fast and he was wearing a wind jacket. I had momentarily forgotten that I was riding on the Bike '76 route today.
When I rode west, I appreciated why that fellow riding east was wearing a wind jacket. The temperature was 68 F (20 C) and, with the side-tail wind I had, it was cold enough to make me consider putting on warm socks and a wind vest. If I had been riding east into the wind, I'm sure I would have put them on. As it was, I wasn't really warm until I had been riding for about and hour and I kept the neck of my shirt and the cuffs buttoned until after my first stop at Leoti.
One of the things I learned from my breakfast companion was that Leoti, 24 miles east of Scott City, has a motel and restaurants. If I had know that yesterday, I very likely would have ridden there instead of stopping in Scott City. However, given the remarkably cool temperature this morning and the, quite warm, temperature yesterday afternoon. I think I was better off to have stopped. I also enjoyed visits with two groups of bike tourists this morning - one pair of guys who had just graduated from university and a family from Australia. If I had ridden on yesterday, I would not have met the guys - they started from Leoti - and I might not have met the Aussies.
I stopped for desert in Leoti where I had some excellent home made peach pie at the restaurant that is part of the motel. I stopped again for lunch at the 'Chatterbox Cafe' in Tribune. Lunch - the special - was very good and the waitress, after asking if I was a bicyclist, brought me the bicyclist 'guest book' they have been keeping since 2005. It was great fun to read it and to add my own entry to it. When I was getting ready to leave both of the women working as waitresses there made sure that I knew that there 'was nothing' between Tribune and Eads. I assured them that I was well prepared with both food and water for that ride. I started it with 3 liters of water and enough snack food to keep me going for several hundred miles. Because it was cooler, I could have made it with just two water bottles
Leaving Tribune, it is a long way to Eads
which is the next place with services
Tribune is about 46 miles from Scott City, but Leoti is about half way to Tribune and has full services
After Tribune, which has full services, there is a coke machine about half way to Eads ;-}
When I left Tribune, I had 15 miles left to ride in Kansas. I was both excited about getting to Colorado and a little sad about leaving Kansas. The riding was easy, the pavement was smooth, and I knew, from reading that guest book, that the pavement would not be as good in Colorado. Sometimes it is better not to know such things ;-}.
I rode through a lot of harvest activity, including one big field which had five combines working and a grain wagon running back and forth between the combines an a line of waiting wheat trucks. That field was about a mile long and the trucks were at one end and the combines were at the other. They needed to use more grain wagons or fewer combines, or move the line of trucks closer to where they were cutting!
These are examples of the equipment used
for wheat harvest
A semi with a special wheat trailer, a combine, and a tractor with a grain wagon used to move wheat between the combine and the wheat truck
Here are two combines putting grain in a wheat
The one on the left has just finished and is heading back to cut some more wheat
The second truck is waiting its turn to be filled
When I got to Colorado, the road deteriorated - got rough and, after a few miles, had some bad joints that made for thump-thump ever 40 feet or so. The wind was still good and temperatures were still moderate, so I didn't stop at the 'pop for sale' tent that folks had set up at Towner, the first town past the border. As I approached Towner, I realized that it was set up just like many Canadian prairie towns with the grain elevators and the rial road tracks on one side of the highway and the rest of the town on the other side. Looking in my rearview mirror, I could see the last elevator, at the border, sticking up in the middle of the road behind me and Towner's elevator sticking up in the middle of the road ahead of me. More Canadian deja vu!
Just inside Colorado, the countryside
looks the same but the road is bumpier, and often thumpier
The curve you see ahead is matched by one behind me, KS 96 and CO 96 both run due west,
but they don't run at quite the same latitude ;-}, so a diagonal section is used to match them up!
40 miles into Colorado, it no longer looks like you are still in Kansas
The 43 miles I rode in Colorado were a little slower, because of the rougher road and, after a while, more hills, and they were much more lonely. While the change isn't dramatic at the border, Colorado has far fewer working farms and far more grassland than Kansas. In Kansas, I saw people and other vehicles fairly often. In Colorado, I would ride for ten or more miles without seeing anyone or being passed by any vehicle. This was nice, except for the lack of services. I stopped for a break at Sheridan Lake (where is the lake? ;-}) which had a sort of service station with a coke machine. I sat on the walkway beside the building, enjoying the breeze and the chance to be off my bike. That was the only time I sat down until I got to Eads.
Part of the reason for not getting off the bike to rest was that there was no place to do that except in the two small towns. The other reason is that there were biting flies that quickly found me when I stopped - although not at the service station. I had some problems with those flies in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, but when I was riding in Colorado, they were worse. The most annoying fly bit me on the butt repeatedly as I rode. Hmm, been there, been bit like that before in UP Michigan. I stopped and knocked that sucker off my rear pannier where he was riding between bites!
I reached Eads about 6 PM after a little less than eight hours of riding. I checked into a motel which said it had wireless internet. As it turned out, it barely worked when I first tried to use it and then quit all together. Oh well, I had a good supper at the restaurant next door and, in the morning, had a really nice breakfast at the motel with a group of bicyclists from Atlanta. I didn't really need internet access and a good supper and folks to visit with more than made up for the lack of it.