Day 20, Fair Grove, MO – Pittsburg, KS 97 miles (1605 total)
Time on bike: 10:02:18
Avg: 11.1 mph
Daily Ascent: 5403 ft (56 ft/mile)
Max: 37.5 mph
Kansas, sweet Kansas! Pat and I have now had 2 back to back century rides (today we finished with 111 total after riding around Pittsburg). The morning dew was heavy, so the tent was packed away wet. But, the sun was shining and the day was young. We began by cycling through Walnut Grove and then Ash Grove. In Ash Grove we were able to pick up a stray Wi-Fi signal, so we checked our email and updated our blogs. We wanted to reach Pittsburg for a couple of reasons. First, because it was a new state, and 2nd because it would mean back to back 100 mile rides. The hills continued to pester us in the first 50 miles. We were climbing around 85 ft per mile. At one point we passed an old rock quarry which was filled with water and just off the side of the road. The water was blue and looked too enticing for 2 sweaty cyclists to pass up, so Pat and I with the same mindset, circled back, parked our bikes next to the gate and scaled the fence to get in. The water was unbelievably refreshing! We swam and splashed around without a care in the world. It was a classic moment which both refreshed us and recharged our batteries.
The day was nice. 80 degree weather with a calm breeze, but the hills slowed us down. It stinks to climb hills at 4 mph all day. It makes you feel like you’re not going anywhere. Fortunately, just before we hit Golden City, MO, the land became as smooth as silk. I got so jazzed that I pushed ahead and averaged 17mph to the next town, leaving Pat in my trail of dust. I couldn’t help it. I had waited forever to get to this moment. I felt like a race horse who was in his first race. It was an incredible feeling and though I did feel bad for leaving Pat behind I just couldn’t help myself.
I think about a number of things while I cycle. I think about how fortunate I am to be able to do this trip. I think about my friends and family. I think about the fact that I’m crossing this great country on a bicycle and how cool that really is to do. I think about how every small town is just about the same as every other small town and where if I asked anyone what they thought of their town they’d say about the same thing, that it stunk and it was boring. Let me just say that the grass isn’t really greener on the other side of the fence. It’s the same grass. Really, it’s the people that make a town. If the people are friendly in a town it makes it an unforgettable place. I think about my future, and where it’s headed (which is another great unknown, but in a good way). I think a lot about running marathons and how this trip is like that, slow and steady.
Motorists are generally good to me on the road. Some pass slowly, some fast. Some wait behind me for several minutes before passing around turns and on hills. I don’t mind if people pass me if they are driving fast so long as they do it far away from me. And I don’t mind if they pass me closely, so long as they do it slowly. But occasionally someone will pass fairly closely and quickly and that makes me nervous. I don’t know why they do it. Often it’s someone older who seems to be concerned about staying in their own lane.
Well, it’s great to be in a new state! Supper tonight was at a Mexican restaurant. Pittsburg is a college town, so there’s a bit of a buzz about it. It has some life to it. We’re staying in a city park tonight near a couple of baseball diamonds. Everyone says that Kansas is boring as far as cycling through it, but if it’s as flat as it has started out to be… I won’t mind boring one bit!