Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 28....Bicycling from Kingman, KS to El Dorado, KS

83.3 miles in 7:55....elevation climbed...1401 ft....descent...1293 ft. Max speed 18.9...average speed 10.5 mph..., total trip ascent....26,223 ft.
I woke up raring to go, but I failed to do one thing that I always do. Whenever I get up, before I even pee, I feel my bike tires to make sure I don't have a flat. I read that in a cycling blog somewhere. Well,this morning I forgot to check, got all my panniers loaded up, locked myself out of my room, got on my bike, and had a flat front tire. CRAP! I got the housekeeping lady to let me back in the room, unloaded the bike and fixed the flat. The first tube I tried had a hole in it. The second one worked, but what a pain in the butt. The whole process wasted about a half an hour, but it was still good that I got flat in the room, and not out on the wind blown plains of Kansas. 
The wind was behaving itself way more than it was predicted, so I took advantage of a neutral wind and ever warming temperatures to have a great ride. The day off also worked miracles for my legs. I'm still wondering in my mind, whether tired legs or big winds were holding me back more. It was about 17 miles into the trip, when GPS girl pulled me off US 54, for the first time since New Mexico. I went north for about four miles on 391st street, which brought me to 21st street, where I turned right onto the road that would take me most of the way through Witchita. US 54's nice shoulder was acting as a drag strip for me, so I was sad to pull off, but 21st street was even better! Smooth tar with no chips, and the rolling miles went by nicely. Today was the first day I climbed more than descended since I was in Albuquerque, ten days ago. It's definitely rolling more, and there are more trees to break up the wind some. The time spent on the west side of Witchita was in farm land, but the east side had more oil rigs than I've seen since I was in Oklahoma last year. Witchita itself was dotted with many lakes, and I crossed the Arkansas River. I didn't go through downtown Witchita, but my path of travel took me through the northern suburbs, most of which were affluent and nice. While I was near town, I stopped at a Specialized bike shop and bought a new back up tire, since my front one seems about cooked all the sudden, and I picked up a new thorn resistant tube to replenish my stock. I feel better having a safety net, too many tubes and tires, rather than not enough. The small search for the bike shop took me out of the way slightly, but not really much, and it was definitely worth it, because who knows when I could find another bike shop so convenient to where I was traveling. In that regard, Witchita came by at just the right time. The east end of the city on 21st street, took me through an industrial area, with crappy roads, and then I started heading north, on some neighborhood bike trails and side streets to get me north to KS 254, which would take me to my final destination of El Dorado. I noticed that Witchita had absolutely zero bike lanes on their roads, but they seemed to have a decent trail system, including along the 20 mile stretch of 21st Street that I rode. A sidewalk on one side of the street was wider than a normal sidewalk, and doubled as a multiuse path, including underpasses for crossing the busy road. I don't know how their bike lane system is downtown, or around Witchita State U, two places I would have liked to see.
After popping out on KS 254, I had another 25 miles to travel on this four lane highway to get to El Dorado. This is where the smell of crude oil rigs outdid the smell of fresh country farm air. The wind picked up a little in the late afternoon, or was it just my legs getting tired? I pulled into El Dorado, a town of about 12,000, and stopped to google for cheap motels. I found one for $42, but it was off the main drag, and as I was riding some side roads, a couple, about my age waved me down from their SUV. They asked me if I needed a place to stay tonight, and offered a room at their home. When these things occur, you are never sure what you are getting into, but their SUV was very nice, and so were they, so I bit. They guided me to their home, and much to my surprise, it was in a beautiful golf course community very similar to Ironwood in Sourhpointe. My room and private bath were as beautiful as their entire home. I got a shower, and we went out to eat at a sports bar called Willie's. We chatted quite a bit, and they were very interested in the concept of Workamping, which they were not that familiar with. After arguing about the check, they even bought my meal. They said they were envious of cross country bicyclists, and had hosted some in the past, but not many pass this way. They have hosted several foreign exchange students also. Cecil is an IRS agent, and Catherine works for the Vornado company, a type of house fan that circulates air in a unique way. Very, very nice people.  These are the kind of people that I've always heard about meeting when you travel as I am, road angels, they are called. I questioned their trust of perfect strangers, but they really just think it's something they enjoy doing. This is what enamours me to the Midwest. The further you get from either ocean, the nicer people seem to be to strangers. Just things like saying hello and trusting your fellow man. I'm laying in a comfortable bed, typing this blog, in a perfect strangers house. How cool. And they will both be gone for work in the morning when I get up.

Notice the yellow field in the background

Kansas state roads are denoted by sunflowers

Cecil and Catherine

My bed for the night!

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