Day 34/35

Day 34: Alexander, KS ➡️ Ness City, KS…20 miles

Day 35: Ness City, KS ➡️ Scott City, KS…55.4

Total Miles: 1,941.4

The last day and a half has been a blur of fun, fear, frustration, determination, sleep deprivation, bike tourist companionship, and generosity.

Well, to be honest, the entire trip has been a blur of those things.

As you read in my last post, we rode 20 miles and decided to hang out in Ness City during the day. The 110 heat index, the 30 mph crosswinds, and the lack of services over the next 55 miles helped us decide to stay in town and wait to ride at night when the wind had died down and it was cooler. There are less cattle trucks and semis hauling farm equipment at night. June is wheat harvest, so the farm truck traffic on the road during the day gets crazy. The picture below is from my map- it shows the size of the equipment that is passing us during the day…sometimes it’s much bigger!

Can you spot the biker? Yeah.

We set up our tents in the park and tried to sleep during the day. It was sweltering hot, even in the shade.

I dozed off a few times, but I just couldn’t fall asleep. It was too hot.

As I was dozing off, I heard a splash come from the nearby pool. It was finally open!! I decided to go jump in and cool off, in hopes that it would help me sleep better. I’m pretty sure I got some weird looks over my absurd tan lines.

We stayed in the pool for 3 hours. It wasn’t crowded at all! We floated around and watched kids dive off the diving board and do crazy flips. We talked to a child who tried to guess our names. We knew he wouldn’t be able to guess either of our names. He had a unique name too, and after a couple of hints I totally guessed it- Sevyn!

After we got out of the pool, we tried to sleep some more. I actually think I fell asleep for a few minutes. We woke up to cheers coming from a tee-ball game, and then we packed up our stuff. It was just too hot to sleep.

I spotted a truck selling shaved ice. It was glorious. The syrup-to-ice ratio was spot on. 🤓

As we were about to head out for the evening, Dex and another bike tourist he met rolled into the park! We thought Dex was 2 days ahead of us!

Dex told his friend that we were the two girls everyone was talking about!! Masherra and I are getting really curious as to what everyone is talking about! Haha! Dex even mentioned how there is an Australian man named Angus who is just behind us, and he mentioned trying to catch up to us.

We chatted with Dex and his friend for an hour or so. The pool was closed, but they decided to go swimming anyway. Dex said that if someone got upset about it, he would say, “you try riding 100 miles in the sweltering heat and try to not jump in a pool afterwards.”

Touché.

Mash and I went to grab some dinner before our night ride. As we were eating, some weather alerts came across the television.

We pulled up the radar, because…well, you know. Being a bike tourist and meteorologist kind of goes hand-in-hand. The storm was going to barely miss us to the north. So we went for it.

As we were riding, the sky was putting on a show to the north of us. Pink lightning, cloud-to-ground lightning, every type of lightning. It was a ways off though.

When we started to notice some cloud-to-ground lightning off to our south, we pulled up the radar again. Another storm cell had popped up and was heading directly for us. We were already 8 miles outside of town, with 7 to go until the next little “town”….aka a place with a couple of houses and a barn.

Now, on normal bikes, we could have quickly booked it 7 more miles. But on loaded touring bikes, it’s a different story…but we tried.

The cloud-to-ground lightning was getting closer and closer. It made me nervous. It started to rain, and it got harder and harder. I could tell it was mixed with something. Then, the heavens opened up.

At this point, I was already completely drenched. I reached into my back pannier and quickly pulled out my rain fly to put over me. I put my bike down in the grass and got away from it since it is a hunk of steel, and walked down into the ditch beside the road and hunkered down.

Tap. Ping. Pit. Pat.

Good thing I had my helmet on. Hail.

I stayed hunkered down until it passed. It was a cold rain, and the wind made it colder.

Wait a minute. Wasn’t it 110 degrees a few hours ago?!

As soon as it let up, we hopped back on our bikes and made a beeline for…well…we didn’t know. There was another storm coming and we had to get somewhere, and we had to get there fast. More lightning was approaching, and the wind was picking up. Every time the sky lit up, we would have a split second to look for shelter before it went to pitch-black again.

At the very last minute before the next storm hit, the sky lit up and we saw a building next to a house. We crossed through their yard to the barn. It started pouring.

The rain pounded on the tin roof and on the sides of the building. It got harder and harder. It was hailing again. We moved from the side of the building to the center next to a large pickup truck, hoping it would be safer. The wrath of the wind and rain continued to increase. I could feel the truck shaking from the wind. As the building began to make scary popping sounds, I began to wonder if the building we were in was about to come apart. I began to wonder if a tornado was coming through. I even thought about getting underneath the truck for protection.

The storm lasted 15 or 20 minutes, and then it began to die down. The temperature had dropped even more and we both had to put on warm clothes. We waited another 45 minutes for the rain to clear off. By the time we started pedaling again, it was after 1:00 a.m.

We rode all night long. I was so tired I couldn’t hardly keep my eyes open. The first 25 miles or so were pretty easy, but I wore out pretty quickly. When you haven’t slept for 24 hours, your body just needs rest and sleep. We took a break at a closed gas station in a still, quiet, 3:00 a.m. town. I dozed off leaning up against the brick wall of the gas station.

But we still had 30 more miles.

The next 30 miles were pretty difficult. I was listening to music and trying to snack…but neither were helping me. I wanted to pull off on the side of the road and just sleep in the ditch. But I had to keep going.

The wind picked back up over night, and we had a crosswind as the sun was rising. I don’t even know how to describe how my legs felt. They didn’t hurt, but I just had no energy to pedal. I had to take periodic breaks. On one break, I looked back behind me to the east and saw this:

It was the most beautiful sunrise I have seen. It was absolutely stunning. It was just me, the see-forever plains of Kansas, and the sunrise.

It was a miracle when I arrived to Scott City. I was so ready to go to sleep.

When we arrived at the gas station around 8:30 a.m., I noticed my panniers were covered in grit from the craziness of the storms last night. I had my wet clothes bungeed to my back rack trying to get them dry.

We rode to the city park, the same one my dad had camped out at on his trip. He told me how he slept under the gazebo (although now a different one) and how there was a Dairy Queen across the street. Yep, this was the night place! I set up my tent, ate 3 doughnuts, and conked out until 2:00.

The shade had moved and my tent was in the sun. In a zombie-like state, I rolled out of my tent to move it, but something caught my eye: a yellow Dollar Store bag.

Neither one of us had been to the Dollar Store. I didn’t even know there was one nearby. Confused, I peaked into the bag…

4 huge bottles of cold Gatorade, and some candy! Someone had left the bag by our tents while we were sleeping!!! How amazing is that? I’m telling you, the TransAm trail angels are everywhere, and they are the best.

Since one of my tent poles is broken, I didn’t feel like rigging it up again after I moved my tent, so I just grabbed my footprint and slept out in the open on the cool, soft grass.

Mash crawled out of her tent, and as we were doing some route planning, Dex and his friend were riding through town and stopped by the park to see if we were there. They were checking on us since they knew we had rode into the night through the storm. They got hammered with the same one.

We chatted for a few minutes and parted ways. We aren’t sure if we will see them again, as Dex is taking some time off in Colorado to visit his family and his girlfriend.

We sleepily headed to Subway to grab some lunch and to charge our external batteries. When we asked where the outlet was, the worker pointed up to the ceiling 😂. He told us he had a cyclist actually stand on a table to plug his gps into the ceiling outlet. It just hung there. That’s desperation…and a little risky if you ask me. Haha! We found another outlet, thankfully.

After we were done eating, I went outside to go through my gear to see if there was anything else I could get rid of to lighten my load. I’m considering getting rid of my front panniers altogether. Here is what the new setup would be:

Much more minimalist and a few lbs lighter. Now I just have to build up the courage to mail my other stuff home. 😐

As I was messing around with my bike, a car pulled in and a man got out. He was the pastor at a local church and offered for us to stay inside the church where there are multiple couches, air conditioning, and a shower! We definitely took him up on the offer!

It was fun talking to the pastor and his wife. They told us a story about a bike tourist who had a wreck and broke his collarbone. They took him to the hospital and even shipped his bike back to Washington D.C. They had trouble recalling his name.

“Mas….M…Mason, I think was his name.”

MANSON!!! It was Manson! If you’ve been reading my blog from the beginning, Manson is one of the first bike tourists we came across on our trip. He told us he had a wreck in Kansas last summer and broke his collarbone. This summer, he started in Kansas and finished the route.

Small world!!

So, tomorrow is another exciting day. Tomorrow, we cross into Colorado, and also cross our 2,000th mile!!!

Two. Thousand. Miles.

Today, we developed a plan for the rest of our trip. If we stick to the original TransAm route, we will be cutting it close. We don’t want to chance not finishing the trip, so we are taking the TransAm up to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, and instead of riding north to Missoula, Montana (where the adventure cycling association is based out of), we are cutting straight across Idaho into Oregon. This will save us around 500 miles! We did the math and we have around 1750 more miles until we reach the coast of Oregon in Florence. This will cut down on our needed average daily miles, so we feel much better about finishing the trip. 😊

This trip has been wild, and I can’t believe we are already halfway through it. I’m so looking forward to the Rockies and the beautiful, Wild West. 😍🌲🚵🏼‍♂️

🌲Aspen🌲

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