I’ll spin ya a yarn about two cycling idiots riding across Kansas in triple degree (Fahrenheit) heat. The ride was The Salty Shamois 492.459km.
Two gentle souls rolled out from the border town of Caldwell KS at 5am in darkness. Sadly leaving behind the wonderful hospitality and excellent Mexican food of the townsfolk. Off we pedaled our carbon steeds in search of gravel, adventure and kegs overflowing of frothy brew. Adventure came quickly when the gravel turn to grass and the grass led to a river. Wrong turn. Damn you Google maps!!! Reroutes les us to the Dirty Gnat Lowlands. Miles and miles of black clouds of gnats hanging in the morning air. Head down, legs pumping, chest hair coiled we attacked! The vampire gnats fought bravely but we persevered vowing never to return. Also gnat lather makes for great SPF protection…who knew? Onward!! The cool waters, ice cold White Claws and miles of pavement at Cheney State Lake tried to ensnare us but AGAIN…we pedaled on. ONWARD!! We knew our path was blessed when we turned a corner and witnessed the MIGhTY GrEmLin of the GraveL!!! The AMC Mighty Gremlin (1970-1978 over 679,000 produced…none of which ran a year later) us on our way to the land of Hutchinson where the beer flows of pineapples.
We soon found our minds and bodies crippled by107 degree heat indices, rough gravel and the dreaded light tailwind. Two hours later we coasted into Hutch. Two broken men looking for a light on the horizon. BEHOLD!!!!!
THE SALT CITY BREWERY!!! The pineapple IPA ran freely (not actually free. We had to pay.) my friends!! We soured their furniture but we drank mightily!! We then rolled quite gleefully to the Gardens of Olive where piles of pasta awaited. The basket of endless breadsticks filled our bellies as we stumbled to our AC filled lodging, watch Caddy Shack and fell to slumber.
Day One 115.66 miles. Wind 0-5mph. Heat topping out over 107F on gravel.
Towns – Caldwell-Argonia-Norwich- Cheney-Cheney Lake-Hutchinson
Next – Day 2. The Castle is Pillaged!!!
There is NO WAY 3am is a real time. No clock should ever show the number 0300. Ever. Like never. Ever.
We woke up at 3am. Only way to beat the heat is to ride early JohnJr says. I’m not happy right now I says. I know JJr is right but I’m not saying it out loud. 4am rollout. 78 degrees and high humidity means Insta sweat in the dark but at least it’s cool with a breeze and no morning gnat attacks. Shit. Sand roads. Freaking tire grabbing soul crusading 1-2 inch deep sand for first hour. Wheel is grabbed and I nearly go down on my recently repaired and still fragile shoulder. FBomb. Slow. Steady. Freaking sand. Finally the gravel gods stop laughing and allow us to roll on hardpack into McPherson about 6:30am. More laughter from above. Scooters is closed. FBomb. There’s a Casey’s. I love you Casey’s. Breakfast pizza and a burrito to go. Damn it feels good to be me.
Fast good roll in still cool air to Lindsborg where the sun is up and the scent of scones fill the air. Oh my dear dear White Peacock Tea and Coffee house, how I’ve longed for you. You’ve been in my dreams since last September’s ride ended on your doorstep. All is good. All is gold. Point me to the castle! Coronado Heights!! Built in 1938 after Spanish chain mail was found by a professor in 1915…the majestic castle sits on top of a Smoky Hills peak. We stormed that thar castle, knocked down the invisible door, ate from the invisible feast in the great room and claimed the beautiful country side in the now of the White Peacock!!!
Then we left cause it was getting hot and we had a long way to go…
We rolled through the village of Assaria. JJr blinked. JJr missed Assaria. Onward to Salina KS! We arrived at noon and smelled rain in the forecast. Okay I checked my iPhone. Heavy rain that night. Noon was too early to stop so we went east to Abilene. 35 miles. Water up and head out. The roads were beautiful hard packed dirt with small rollers but ZERO shade. The temps rose over 100F. Things turned bleak. BLEAK I TELL YA!!!
Eight miles from Abilene the gravel turned to pavement. Pavement + heat + Bobby (that’s me) = not good things. I overheated, brain turned off and had to get a popsicle + ice cold White Claw. I know. Like said…mind shutdown. Two miles from AC and hotel. I couldn’t think or pedal. 15 minutes later we coasted to the hotel, changed and found the Brookville Hotel…not a hotel…family style friend chicken. Taters. Gravy. Corn. Biscuits. Slaw. Coke. Holy gravel loving friends we were in heaven. Back to the hotel and watch Cowboys vs Dinosaurs. Eric Roberts. Wow. So bad. Good night.
Day One 133 miles. Wind 5-15mph. Heat topping out over 104F on gravel.
Towns – Hutchinson-McPherson-Lindsborg-Assaria-Salina-Abilene
Next – Day 3. Stinging rain!!!
No more 3am wake ups. 3am is lame. We woke up at 5am. We slept in!!! Today would be a route made up as we went because of the looming rain. A bit sketchy but we had our phones so all should be well. Quick weather check showed rain coming so out the door before 6am we went. The morning was great. Sunrise coming up. Slight rain over night made the roads just about perfect. We had gravel all the way to Chapman, Ks. Small rollers got the muscles pumping but made for a cool breeze on the downhills. The day was early so we rode on to Junction City. Unfortunately the roads between JC and our destination while only 30 miles…are a jumbled mess due to the Ft Riley military base lying directly between the towns. Tuttle creek to the north and I70 to the south meant very few roads to choose from. We stopped in JC and filled up on Starbucks coffee and breakfast as the rain began to fall.
Google showed an easy road to Manhattan. We chose a mostly pavement route due to the rain, hard to reach gravel and not wanting our ride pickup to have to find us in mud. Not on Day 3 2 hours from the finish. I really don’t mind good old back country highways. They can be very peaceful. Our next 20’ish miles was NOT good old back country highways. I wasted 30 minutes getting ya almost lost in JC. We crossed the ONLY bridge across the river with cars zooming by a foot from us. We rode the shoulder of a 4 lane highway in driving rain. We tried to cross a field to a smaller highway only to discover the field was the inspiration for Breaking Bad. Avoiding being locked into 55 gallon barrels of acid we got back onto said 4 lane and headed for Ogden in a torrential downpour. Once in Ogden found a direct route to Manhattan and got to cranking again.
Manhattan. Oh Manhattan. How I hate the Wildcats and the color purple. How I love and adore AJ’s Pizza and Pathfinder bike shop. Ben and Jeremey treated us like family. Dry clothes. All my gels for some dry clothes. Sweet 3 day old dry clothes. We ate pizza. We drank beer. We packed up our bikes. We went home.
Success? Success. Fun? Fun. Ready to go again? Give me some time. My butt is raw, my toes are numb, my mind is drained and most importantly I missed my family. Laying down on the floor watching movies with my girls is pretty damn nice right now. ❤️