Bike tour update

We have decided to end Part 1 of our two-summer cross-country bike tour in Guffy Colorado because we were having a hard time adjusting to the altitude change.

Another reason for ending sooner than we planned is because of our slow pace and we were going to run out of time before we had to be at UW.

With this being our first real bicycle tour, we’ve learned a heck of a lot.

As a two-time cancer survivor, Phil feels good about our trip and looks forward to finishing the rest of the TransAm another summer!

All of the touring cyclists that we met along the way were super cool folks and we look forward to meeting lots more cool folks when we continue the TransAm another summer.  We truly appreciate everyone that we met along the way!!!

Thank you to everyone we crossed paths with :)

Phil & Linda

Day 59 and 60: Monday, June 23rd to Tuesday, June 24th

Larned, KS to Ness City, KS

We left Larned and there was quite a cross wind.  It would be another 60+ mile day, but there was a town half way in between so we knew we’d have a break.  A few miles out of town was Fort Larned National Historic Site.  We took a picture, but it didn’t look like there was much more there except picnic tables.

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After 14 miles we finally turned north and enjoyed a 19 mile tailwind to Rush Center.  In Rush Center there was a single restaurant that we would have missed if we hadn’t seen another touring bike alongside the building.  We spoke with the other cyclist who was headed east and compared notes of what was ahead.  We grabbed some lunch at the bar and Phil entertained the waitresses with his jokes.

As we continued down the road of endless wheat fields we came to a curve in the road and found this:

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We passed by Alexander, KS where you could camp at the rest stop.  Apparently the rest stop is always open with bathrooms.  This also marked the end of map 8 and the beginning of map 7.

We reached Ness City, KS in the afternoon and the first thing we found was an ice cream stop.  We considered where to sleep and the Derrick Motel and Inn right next door to the ice cream shop was getting tempting.  The ladies at the ice cream shop had nothing bad to say about it.  Linda went to see how much a room was and check the place out.  To her surprise it was a very unique place with a hot tub, pool and laundry for a very good price.  We took the room and got our showers.

Phil was curious where the other racers were and we found out 4 racers were near Ness City from the Trans Am race tracker website.  We waited at the ice cream shop until it was almost dark and met some fabulous locals.

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After the ice cream shop closed, we figured out the only place open was the convenience store a few blocks down.  Linda started walking down while Phil decided to get his bike.  We were able to meet up with the 4 racers who stopped at the convenience store for food around 10pm.  They ended up deciding to stay in Ness City at the same motel.

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Tuesday, June 24th

We decided to sleep in and did not get going until after 11am.  We started on our way and then realized the sky was getting very dark on one side.  We started to approach a a building that we found out was a business selling trailers.  Linda was planning on checking her phone for the weather when we got to the driveway, but she didn’t have too. A man met us in his golf cart at the entrance to the driveway, inviting us in the building because a storm was coming with heavy rain, lightening, winds and there was a rumored tornado to the north.  We graciously accepted.

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We hung around until 2:30 and it was still raining with lightening near by.  One of the employees offered to give us a ride back into town and we accepted.  We loaded up the bikes in his pick-up truck and he took us the 4 miles back into town to the motel.

We checked back into the same room and then went to get something to eat at the Mexican place down the street when the rain died down.  We were very hungry and it tasted very good.

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We then went back and relaxed at the hotel.  We met another young man going west soaking in the hot tub.  He was doing 80-100 miles/day and had gotten very sick and dehydrated.  He was taking a rest day in Ness City to get himself feeling better.  He was also planning on doing the Western Express through the desert to San Francisco.  Linda told him to drink lots of water and to be careful.  We wished him well.

We got some rest and went to bed.

Day 58: Sunday, June 22nd

Nickerson, KS to Larned, KS

Today we knew once we left Nickerson there would be no services for 60 miles.  We started off stocking up at the convenience store and ate some breakfast there.

We biked through a lot of wheat fields and with it being harvest time, we had a lot of trucks pass us carrying large farm equipment or hauling wheat.  We passed through Quivira National Wildlife Refuge but did not see much wildlife.  We stopped periodically to eat and drink.

As we approached Larned, we came across our first feed yard.  The smell was awful.

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We got into Larned, KS all we wanted to do was get some real food.  There were really only fast food restaurants in town.  Phil wanted Pizza Hut and Linda wanted Wendy’s.  Luckily they were directly across the street from each other.  Linda went and got a nice strawberry salad at Wendy’s with a Strawberry shake and large cup of ice water.  Phil got some pizza.

We then went to check out the city park which had a nice pool.  We could camp there, but as we spoke with one of the locals we found out that Thunderstorms and 60 mph winds were going to come through that night.  We decided the local motel was a better option.  On our way back to the hotel we came across this interesting landmark.

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We check into the hotel and showered.  We found out that the laundromat was not even 2 blocks away and got our laundry done before it started to storm.  The storm did come and the thunder vibrated the motel room we stayed in.  We were glad to be inside.

Day 57: Saturday, June 21st

Hutchinson, KS to Nickerson, KS

We relaxed and left the hotel later.  We then went to the local bike shop in town and spent some more money.  Right next door was a barber shop and Phil got his hair cut.  We then decided to keep going and try and get to Sterling, KS.

It was only 11 miles to Nickerson, KS and then 11 miles to Sterling.  We got started in the afternoon.  As we got into Nickerson, we saw an Exotic Animal Farm and saw Camels and Zebras!

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When we got to Nickerson, KS, we stopped at the convenience store to get some snacks.  Many of the folks told us about the city park we could camp in.  We decided to check it out and it had a shower.  We thought about going on, but realized Sterling was 3 miles off route which would mean we would have 3 extra miles in the morning.  We decided to camp, but Phil wanted to find someone’s yard to camp in since we had such bad luck in the city parks with noise, people, etc.  Phil struck up a conversation with a family grilling on their front porch.  They told us we could camp anywhere on the lawn.

We went back to the park to use the shower and then headed to the only restaurant in town.  We talked to one of the locals, but his name isn’t Paul.  Paul, evidently was there earlier that day, so his seat was fair game:

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After we finished eating, we saw next door a cyclist parked outside the convenience store and we knew from the gear it was one of the racers.  Here we met Billy Rice.  He showed us the frost burn he had received from going down the mountain passes in the snow and only wearing knee warmers.  We were glad that we had packed long pants.

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We then went back to our new friends house and they were finishing up their barbecue and getting ready to get back inside before the mosquitoes came out.  As soon as the sun went down, the mosquitoes came out and we quickly finished putting up the tent and got in.

Day 56: Friday, June 20th

Newton, KS to Hutchinson, KS

We enjoyed our time at the Newton Bike Shop, but we were tired from all the excitement.  Due to a detour, James suggested we just take route 50 instead of maneuvering around the detour, as there were more towns that way and a large shoulder.

We were happy we did as we came upon a town exactly when we needed one.  There was a convenience store we stopped at and cooled off and ate  some lunch.  While we’re there we got to read the local newspaper and remember our time we just had in Newton, KS.

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We also figured out that we were crossing Kansas right in the middle of the wheat harvest.  We had a lot of combines pass us on the road.

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We eventually continued on our way and finally made it to Hutchinson, KS.  We went passed the Underground Salt Museum, but it had just closed for the day.  We were a little disappointed.

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Hutchinson is a more populated town and even had a mall.  We found an Olive Garden on the way to the hotel and felt like that was a big treat.

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Day 53-55: Tuesday, June 17th to Thursday, June 19th

Eureka, KS to Newton, KS

We left early hoping to get to Newton, KS to the famous Newton Bike Shop and our friend James Barringer and his lovely wife Heather.

We continued to battle the same cross winds we had the day before and counting down every mile till Rosalia, where we were to turn north.  We finally made it to Rosalia and happily accepted the tailwind when we turned.  We looked around for a place to eat, as the maps had listed there was a restaurant in this small town.  We asked a man at the post office and he said we could see if the “Old Hat” was open and when we got there it was not.  We were hungry for some real food, so Phil got out the stove and we cooked our food right there in front of the restaurant.

About 15 minutes passed and we were starting on our second course of our meal and a man showed up to the restaurant.  Turned out he was the owner and was opening the restaurant for lunch.  We cleaned up our dishes, used the restroom and bought some chips and candy inside his place.  We got to talk to him for a while as well.

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We then enjoyed the tailwind for 17 great miles to Cassoday, KS.  We averaged almost 19 miles/hr the entire way.

We stopped in the Country store in Cassoday.  We ate some more good food there as well.  Your able to camp in the city park but we found out the train goes by every 20 minutes.  We decided to continue on, but the 19 miles to Rosalia of cross wind had taken it’s toll and we were unsure if we could make it the next 38 miles to Newton.

We got approximately 5 miles outside of Cassoday and Phil stopped when he saw someone’s nicely manicured lawn.  Phil thought it would be a great place to camp for the night.  We knocked on the door and two teenage girls came out of the side door.  Phil asked if it would be okay for us to pitch a tent in their yard for the night.  The one young lady called her Mom and then said her Mom was okay with it.  Knowing we could stop here, we let Melinda and Lisa know, who were behind us.  They had planned to stay in Cassoday, but Phil let them know about the train.  We waited for them to arrive and Phil rested.  Linda was a little antsy and really wanted to move on, but Phil was truly very tired.

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When Melinda and Lisa arrived, we were still unsure about whether or not we could use the bathroom and we were unsure if we really wanted to stay.  Phil had contacted James Barringer about a possible pick up truck ride into town.  Melinda and Lisa were also very tired and were not thrilled about camping in the yard.

The Newton Bike shop saved the day and one of the Bike Techs in the shop, Art, came and got us in his pick up truck.  As we sped over the Flint Hills of Kansas into Newton, we didn’t feel like we were missing anything by not biking that last 38 mile stretch.

When we arrived, we were greeted by James and the film crew that was doing a documentary on the TransAm Bike race called “Inspired to Ride.”  His wife, Heather, whisked us off in her SUV to get showers down at the local community center as it was closing soon.

After showering, we then got the grand tour of the bike hostel, kitchen and bike shop.

2014-06-20 00.58.36 The signature wall

2014-06-17 21.36.23James and Heather

2014-06-18 14.37.13 Harley, the shop dog

2014-06-18 18.51.09 And the bike wash

We figure out that our tires, good as they were, were hurting our coasting ability and therefore we were using up a lot of energy pedaling.  We ordered new tires, which would be there in 2 days.  We decided to stay in Newton a couple of days.

Wednesday, June 18th

We relaxed a lot that day.  Linda went over to the coffee shop next door and had some oatmeal for breakfast with a Chai Tea.   Linda also walked down to the grocery store to pick up some food.  Phil stayed and hung out at the bike shop.

Two cyclists coming from the west arrived in the afternoon.  They had traveled on the Western Express from San Francisco.  A little while later another cyclists arrived come from the east traveling with a BOB trailer.  Everyone decided to take a rest day at the Newton Bike shop since it was so cool.

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That night at 1am in the morning, the fourth place cyclist of the TransAm Bike race arrived at Newton Bike Shop.  We stayed up and waited, so we didn’t sleep much.  Luckily we were taking another rest day.

2014-06-19 07.14.07Jessie  (4th place racer) leaving Newton Bike shop in the morning

Thursday, June 19th

Phil and I started our day out with breakfast a few blocks down.  Linda then went down tot he thrift store to buy some new flip flops as she had lost one of her pair somewhere between Cassoday and Newton.

Linda got back in time to help greet the famous Julianna Buhring, who holds the Guinness book of world record for fastest woman to circumvent the world by bicycle.  We both got to meet her as well as the 6th place rider who arrived with her.  Phil got his picture with her and she signed his helmet.

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More racers continued to pour into the Newton Bike shop.  James and Heather were getting tired but they continued to be awesome hosts and provided an amazing service to the racers and other TransAm cyclists.   Three other cyclists arrived that day going east.

Our tires also arrived that day and the bike techs replaced our tires.  We had a great time at the Newton Bike shop.  Thank you so much James and Heather!

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Day 52: Monday, June 16th

Chanute, KS to Eureka, KS

We left the hotel and after we left Chanute there was nothing.  We passed the first town, Benedict that was about 1 mile off route.  We then continued on to Toronto, hoping there would be a place to get “real” food.  We turned north again and the southern winds helped us quite a bit.  We were able to get up to 16-19 mph without hardly trying.

We arrived at Toronto and it was practically a ghost town.  We came across a G lodge where there were some ladies making quilts.  They let us know there was a good place to eat just a few miles north on our route.  We quickly got back on our bikes and arrived at Lizard Lips Grill and Deli.  We got some great food there and rested for a while.

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We then continued onto Route 54, where we found out the annual Race Across America was going on.  The RAAM is an annual supported race where a car follows behind the racers.  We had a lot of fun cheering on the racers going the other way on Route 54.

Route 54 was a pretty busy road with a good shoulder, but the large truck traffic made the 30 mph cross winds more interesting.  The trucks going both directions had their own wind going their direction.  Linda was proud of herself for keeping the rubber side down and not falling over.

2014-06-16 09.41.58We quickly figured out where the wind normally comes from

After a long day of fighting the cross winds, we finally reached Eureka and we checked into the Blue Stem Lodge.  It was a great price and the pool felt great!  We ate right across the street at an American/Chinese Buffet and our clothes easily dried when we hung them out to dry after washing them in the sink due to the continued wind

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