Day 15 Dodge City to Scott City KS
Actually I took five days to get from Dodge City to Scott City, but since it is, with normal summer weather, a nice days ride, I'll write it up as day 15 of this tour. I left Dodge at about 7:30 PM (I spent the day with friends) on June 17th and rode the 15 miles to Cimarron on US 50. Wide shoulders, light traffic, and a 10 mph wind out of the south east made it an easy ride.
Even this section of US 50 can be a pain with a strong south wind, which is normal, and a lot of big truck traffic, which is now normal during the day on weekday. When you are riding in a strong cross wind and a truck comes by downwind from you, the bicycle swerves towards the truck when the wind is cut off. You could get sucked into traffic or into the trucks wheels, although a wide shoulder makes that unlikely, but even with the wide shoulder, it is stressful to have to continually fight for control of your bike as trucks go by.
When I got to Cimarron, I stayed at a friends house (Thanks Bernie!) for four nights. Thursday I spent about 10 hours working at High Plains Public Radio in Garden City. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning were 'devoted' to doing cultural things (mostly connected with High Plains Chatauqua) and visiting with other old friends. A good time was had by all, I hope, I know it was great for me.
Although I lived in Dodge City for ten years, I had never visited the Pioneer Museum in Mead or the Stouth Museum in Montezuma. Both are quite excellent and would make delightful stops for bicycle tourists. Meade is located on US 54|US 160 and KS 28, about 37 miles straight south of Cimarron. It has several places to eat, a motel (Moonlight Mist!), a lovely park, and a really nice museum devoted to the history of the area. It also has the Chatauqua this week. Montezuma is located on US 56 about 15 miles south and six miles west of Cimarron. It has only a cafe, some stores, and a truly amazing, professionally run, and beautiful museum which contains a section devoted to the extensive travels of its benefactors and an art gallery, meeting rooms, etc. A really nice place which shows some of the community spirit of this part of the US. The Stouth's, after their deaths, had built an expensive memorial to themselves, but they did it in a way that really serves the community they lived in. Classy people.
Great Plains Chatauqua, since folks outside this part of the US won't be familiar with it, does shows in (mostly small) towns in the middle of the country. Each years shows have a different historical theme and the basic feature of these shows, done under a big tent, is one man (or woman) presentations as historical characters followed by question and answer sessions in character and then by discussions led by the presenter (small college faculty who both know their subject and are good at one man plays). My friend Kathy, Bernie's daughter, is on the board of the Kansas Humanities Council which sponsors the Chatauqua in Kansas, so I also got to visit with the Chatauquans 'off stage' at a brunch this morning before leaving Cimarron. Great folk. If you want to see small town USA at its best, visit one of their shows!
This summer they were in Woodward OK (when I passed through!), Meade KS, and will be in Clay Center KS next week (June 25 - 29th), Plainview NE July 2-6th, Pawnee City NE July 9-13th, Des Moines IA July 16-27, Sac City IA July 23-27, Watertown SD July 30 - August 3rd, Williston ND August 6- 10th, and Minot ND August 13 - 17th. The later two locations are on the Adventure Cycling bike route and Watertown is near my route as I head towards Iron River MI. Unfortunately I need to go through there almost a month before the Chataqua will be in town. I'd love to see 'em again.
After brunch this morning I headed west again on US 50. While I have been 'resting' the weather has been mostly cool, dreary, and windy. This morning was no exception - temps in the low 70s and mist in the air. By noon the mist had cleared up and by 1:15, when I left Cimarron, the sky was clearing. When I got to Scott City about 6 PM it was sunny and 88 F.
I do, as much as is possible, base my route out here on the wind direction. When I left the wind was blowing from the south east at five to 10 mph and predicted to move around to the south and increase to 10 to 20 mph. Since it was Sunday there wasn't much truck traffic on US 50 and US 50 goes pretty much N-NW to Garden City. It sounded like a good combination and it was. I had some problems with trucks, but not much, even though the wide shoulder goes away a bit west of Cimarron and the narrow shoulder that replaces it is sometimes only about a foot wide, I was fortunate not to have to deal with much of a crosswind or any big trucks on those sections. I also kept a good average speed with the help of the wind. If the wind had been strong from the south when I left, I would have gone north to get to less traveled roads before riding west.
Arkansas River at Pierceville with water in it! Usually this is dry because of upstream dams
I stopped at Pierceville for a snack from my supplies. When I got Garden City, I took the bypass north around town and then headed north on US 83. This was a good route from a wind and road stand point. It has wide shoulders, it heads due north and the wind was, as predicted, coming around more from the south, but it took me away from all services. There are no services on this route until Scott City except for a coke machine at an automated service station at Shallow Water, about eight miles south of Scott City. There is also no place to pee since 83 is fairly busy and runs between lush agricultural fields the entire way. It reminded me a bit of riding in Minnesota where you just have to hold it till you find a service station with bathrooms. I had enough food and water, but it would have been nice not to have to 'hold it' that long.
Just before Shallow Water (I noticed a Rain Belt down by Meade and a Friend about sixteen mile south of Scott City), I had my fourth flat tire of this trip. The wide shoulder is pretty clean, but there are occasional broken beer bottles. It is hard to see the shards when the pavement is dark (mostly the pavement is light colored) and I had a nasty spike made of dark brown glass imbedded in my rear tire. It took me less than 10 minutes to find and fix it, but I'm beginning to wonder about the puncture resistance of Conti TT 2000 tires. They don't seem to be as good as the TTs were in this regard. They also seem to be wearing faster than my TTs did. On the other hand, they do handle and ride better than TTs, so I'm not too unhappy with them.
Scott City is a nice place with good choices for places to eat and places to stay. It is on the Bike Centennial route so I bet a lot of bike tourists have ridden through here. There are Indian ruins 15 miles north of here at Scott Lake State Park - I'll check that out tomorrow - a pretty park in the town, and a pretty good selection of services.