Cycling In Kansas

wp-1466106860502.jpegThis is the sixth day we have been riding in Kansas. Contrary to a former personally held belief, riding through Kansas is not boring. At all.

First of all, we have met some really great animals. We saw prairie dogs yesterday, a whole colony all chattering their heads off. Randomly seeing a herd of Zebras was awesome, even though they just wanted to bite our fingers off. My favorite was the wild mustangs which you see in the picture above.

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Noah and I had stopped in a tiny diner in a tiny town to ask to use the restroom and the smiling owner said, “Of course!” and pulled out a registry where thousands of other cyclists that have stopped in at this diner have signed their names over the decades. (The registry thing is a common occurrence, many small-town stores, libraries, churches, city halls and restaurants have guestbooks for us cyclists to sign, it is really neat to read through the pages.)

The owner chatted with us for a while and mentioned where we could find a herd of wild horses. These mustangs originally lived in Colorado but to preserve the herd they now live on a ranch here in Kansas. Noah and I watched the horses gallop across their “range”, and we could still tell how untamed and free their spirits were. (And how ungroomed by humans they are, if you look closely at the photo you can see how many of the horses tails are matted.)

Also, the people of Kansas have been amazing. From the friendly cops, to the waving motorists and the random strangers who ask us where we are from and where we are headed-everyone has been wonderful. Of course, some folks go even beyond that, giving us a place to stay for the night, a free meal or both!wp-1466013066574.jpeg

Meeting up with other touring cyclists is always a joy, it is a great feeling to know that there are others who are traveling “along with” you. Some cyclists we only see in passing: they are headed east, while we are headed west-but even so we usually stop and chat for a few minutes and it is fascinating to discover how global cycle touring is, we have met people from all over the world!

But some cyclists are going our direction so we get to see these folks frequently. Ayana is a young lady from Israel and she has been great to hang out with. We met Dan and Brianne and their two children, Aaron and Connor in Fordsville, KY  and they have been looking out for us ever since on the road. Dan is great fun to ride with and I have really enjoying talking with Brianne. I can’t even explain how awesome their family is (and their dog!) we are really gonna miss them when we reach Colorado!

And finally the past few days have been filled with heady excitement as the TransAm racers have started to fly by us! The TransAm race is one of the most intense endurance races that exists- and each racer is completely on their own. They carry everything they need for the trip, they have to stop to get food and water and find places to rest, just like Noah and I and yet some of them will cycle 4,400 miles in under 20 days.  They are insanely talented athletes and it has been ridiculously cool to see them racing.

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Steffan

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Lael and Evan

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Kai

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Sarah

They are super friendly as well, everyone smiles and waves. We have also chatted with Steffan, Sarah, Ken and Markku. One thing that blows me away is how open they are about sharing their struggles in this race. Whether it is the headwind, homesickness, heat or just the overwhelming feeling of pain that comes with pushing your body to its absolute limits, these cyclists are giving their all to do the best they can in this race. As a woman cyclist it has been so inspiring to me to see Lael, Sarah and Janie riding across the nation at top speed.

So if you ever want to have immersive experience in an epic race, ride the TransAmerican trail during the TransAm race. I would recommend Kansas as the ultimate state to meet the racers in, the flat terrain and long stretches of open road make it easy to spot the riders coming and cheer them on. (Also, if possible, have someone who can text you about who you will meet up with next. Thanks so much, Dad!!)

Noah and I are plodding very slowly across Kansas compared to the racers, but I gotta admit, we are making good progress. Today was a 64 mile day which is pretty average for us, but the three days before that we rode 77, 85 and 90 miles-and it has been really hot out too! It is so weird, yesterday was our 90 mile day and it should have been really rough but a magical thing happened. The last 20 miles of our day we had the most perfect tailwind I have ever experienced. We ended our 90 mile day soaring down the road at 20 to 25+ mph and we got to our campground before we even knew what had happened. (The only sad thing was that there was no where to get food in town so to celebrate our epic ride we ate clif bars and trail mix…)wp-1466107560898.jpeg

 

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33 thoughts on “Cycling In Kansas

  1. Love your posts, it’s travel for me without leaving home. Prayers for safe ride the rest of the way. We miss you at the dinner.

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  2. Still cool Girl! If you had taken a slightly more northern route in Kansas, you would never consider the state flat again! The Flint Hills are amazing. I’d love to know your route on each post. That’s what on here I know, but it adds even more to all of our feeling of experiencing this with you two. LOVE this Bri!!!!!!

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    • Yeah, I haven’t done a great job with telling the actual route each post, you can get a general idea from the map, but I haven’t bothered with connecting the dots so that you can see the route. We are on 96 right now though and we will continue to stay on 96 until the end of time 🙂

      We are having so much fun, why can’t tours last forever? We might be done on Monday and that makes me sad!

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  3. Bri! I was just looking at your blog earlier today hoping for a post! Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us. I love hearing about all the cool things you’re experiencing! 🙂

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  4. Almost through Kansas! Good job! Looks like you’re gonna make it out alive, my friend, with no tornado adventures. Hooray! Those wild horses are magnificent. The photo alone is beautiful; I can’t imagine how incredible it must have been seeing them in real life.

    Your post made me hungry for a clif bar, which would be a possibility, except I can’t remember where I stashed the last one. It’s reserved for a special protein-deficient day, anyway, though. Pretty sure it’s crunchy peanut butter…had to save the best for last, especially since it was a Christmas present, and the last “taste of home”. 🙂 Wish I could have given you my dinner tonight, though, for real – it was a bit heartier than yours and you definitely needed it more. Miss you!

    Oh, and in case we don’t get to talk in the next few days, don’t forget, “Eu amo flamingos!” (Ay-oo ah-mu fla-mingus).

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    • Watching the wild horses made me want to be a wild horse! (But I would brush my tail because I am pretty sure the mats would bother me) We have eaten more then our fair share of clif bars, currently we have Oatmeal Raisin and they are pretty good. We will not forget about the flamingos 😉
      Love you!

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  5. You should have brought Toto along 🙂 I am getting a little envy going here having only done 1002 miles is 13 days. I loved this quote from you… ” As a woman cyclist” and I am so happy for both of you that you are getting to see what life really can be and how you days can be filled at 14 miles an hour. I am sort of the odd man out here in the BIG CITY of Poughkeepsie as I don’t have cable or watch TV, ride my bike to work and walk places. Granted, I am no where near hard core as you, as I own a car and truck. But this year so far I have traveled 2800 car free miles with many more to come.

    I can’t wait for you to actually have a keyboard in your hand and hear more tales from your trip. For me it is very hard to capture the moments as you do, but i have them just the same. See, meeting me in Erie was just the start….

    Thank you for bringing us along on your trip, i smile at every milestone and achievement you guys make. And remember… smile when your riding along and say out loud “The wind is strong… but at least it’s in my face” (Best with a pirate sort of accent).

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    • We did see a guy riding with his Chihuahua yesterday-which is almost as good as having Toto along I think! You should have seen that little dog, he was just as proud as could be sitting on top of one of the rear panniers.

      It is crazy how many car free miles we both have been racking up this year…are you gonna break your all time yearly mileage record?

      Keep rocking on in the big city, Steve!!

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  6. Do you ever get to share your faith or is your conversations strictly about cycling. We will all love hearing about your adventures even more when you get back but we will never experience this awesome journey God is blessing you with. So very thankful that God has been with you the entire trip. We love you and miss you. Marilyn

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    • If we are stopped for a minute the basic conversation centers on where we are coming from and where we are headed and where we live and that is about it.

      We never ride alone, it is amazing to know that God is with us every step (or rather pedal) of the way 🙂

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  7. I met lots of fellow cycle tourers and campers throughout Scotland and they were all so friendly too; it was great to share experiences along the way – a key highlight of my trek.

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  8. Great to hear you hooking up with some cyclists on the road, and kudos to you on the distance. I envy you. Not everyone can, or want to do what you are doing

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    • Noah and I do feel pretty impressive, distance-wise until we compare ourselves to the racers, haha! They are super human, I think 🙂

      The cool thing about bike touring is that there are so many ways to do it though-do a 100 miles each day or take it 10 miles at a time, use a $4000 carbon bike or a $150 mtb-it all works! Maybe I am just delusional since I am currently on a tour, but I think the vast majority of people would have a blast on a tour, they just have to figure out what kind of touring would suit them best, there are so many options to choose from!

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      • I’ve done many vacation tours on bike. What I haven’t done is a completely self supported tour, with full front and back panniers on both sides. That’s hard core.

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      • What was your favourite bike vacation, that sounds awesome! I must admit that after this tour is over I am really going to enjoy riding my bike without all the excess weight 🙂

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  9. Good you’re enjoying Kansas – it nearly killed me mentally when I went across it; heat and headwinds solo can really get to you. Great memories of the people though. Are you dropping in on Newton Bike Shop (or have you already?); they’ll let you sign the wall, rather than just a visitors’ book…

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    • We didn’t go to the bike shop but it sounds like a really awesome one. For our last two days in Kansas we had tailwinds, it kinda shocked me because I have always heard about how awful the winds in Kansas can be.

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  10. So glad you had a wonderful bike ride out. What a memorable experience. We all eagerly watched your progress.wanting to assure the family your dogs are doing very well here. Trey fell in love with Pansy and Emery with Shawma. I am in charge of Zeta. Enjoy your time.

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