Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The Cycling Circus Is In Town!

A Cookies breakfast devoured, we were ready to go by 7.45am, the street through this small town ran east to west and it just went on dead straight and flat as far as the eye could see in both directions.

As we headed out westwards we quickly left the city limits and with little traffic and a strong wind coming from the 11o’clock position we decided to initiate our peloton plan. One rider would sit on the centre line of the road the other four would position themselves in a staggered formation evenly spaced to the roads shoulder. It took a bit of concentration but made cutting through the wind far easier with only the lead man taking the hit of the wind whilst the rest required much less effort to pedal. With the front man dropping to the back every few miles and the pack rotating we felt like the Red Arrows air display team.

We had been given the heads up on an 8 mile diversion due to bridge construction, as it was Sunday we ignored the road closed signs and managed to get through with no problems.

Further on I could see Kees was struggling and I asked him if he was OK, he said no, holding his stomach he continued until we had our next stop and then almost fainted by the side of the road. We took him over to an abandoned store and sat him under the porch.

We dosed him up with various pills but after another failed attempt to cycle he had to rest in the shade. Maarten insisted we carry on and he would wait with his Dad. Reluctantly we headed on to Pittsburg KS but not before I managed to snap my seat clamp bolt, luckily Keith had a spare.

5 miles from Pittsburg KS on the Kansas border we were getting drinks at a gas station when two East Bounders saw us and pulled in. We chatted for ages about the routes in either direction; they had come from San Francisco on the Western Express route through the Nevada desert before linking up with the Trans Am.

We got into Pittsburg KS at lunchtime and found Harry’s Cafe, a real classic old American Diner, an ideal place to celebrate our arrival into our fifth state, Kansas.Whilst cueing to pay my bill on the way out, the little old lady on the cash desk seemed to be having trouble with a new fandangled computerised till. She methodically typed in each item off the bill and without looking up read out the price in individual digits. As my turn approached she typed in my bill and read out six, six, six; I searched in my wallet for $6.66 and noticed her take a quick look at me; she sheepishly looked up again and smiled at me, “I was just seein if ya got horns”. Classic comedy timing!

There were a few options for accommodation that night so we rang the Lutheran Church but no one was in, bit weird for a Sunday, we pressed on hoping we’d meet the pastor at the church but there was no one there. We checked the church, which reminded me of the church in the Blues brothers, I would have loved to have done a back flip down the aisle!! Even the Community Centre at the back was open but empty, so we topped up our water bottles and I left a donation…!
We had another option, seven or so miles on; the town of Walnut, we decided to go there instead (bad move!).
Five miles from Walnut a smart black Dodge Charger pulled up and the bearded driver in his 60’s shouted out to us, “There’s a storm a commin in an hour, get yourself to Walnut”. He disappeared fast off down the straight road. As we are now in “Tornado Alley” advice about storms has to be taken seriously. With this in mind Lance Armstrong would have struggled to keep up with us into Walnut…
Keith got directions to the park and we hoped there would be a sturdy pavilion in there  in which to sit out the storm.
Usually the parks we stay at are immaculate and places of civic pride, Walnut’s was an overgrown mess with no pavilion, filthy toilets with branches pushed down them and no water. With a long ride and a risk of being hit by a storm, we had no options but to pitch our tents and hope for the best.

As luck would have it, the gentleman who Keith had asked directions from was renovating a Gas Station into a Fire Station and drove round to offer us the building for the night. Apart from being a bit dusty and greasy it was a roof over our heads and protection from the savage storm that eventually hit in the early hours.
We rolled up the shutter doors and spread cloths lines across the openings and got our stoves fired fired up ; before long word had spread around town about us and cars, atv’s, Harley’s and pickup’s where cruising by….

The Cycling Circus Is in Town!!                                                            


  1. You go careful in that there Kansas, you don't want to be wizzed of to Oz in them there storm's now do ya!!! Glad your having such a fab time and look forward to reading the blogs they make me smile - You take care Mandy B xx


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