Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April 29...El Dorado, Kansas to Iola, Kansas

85.09 miles in 7:33...ascent....1325 ft.....descent....1686 ft...average speed....11.3 mph....max speed....25.3 mph...total trip miles...1230.57 miles....total ascent....27,548 ft....average mileage per day... 72.39 miles a day
I didn't even wake up until 8:30... Catherine and Cecil were long gone to work. They showed me how they wanted me to lock up, and I was out the door at 9:30. The weather is on a gradual warming trend, and it was in the mid fifties by the time I rolled. It got into the seventies as the day went on, perfect riding weather. The wind was mostly out of the north, as side wind that could be pesky at times, but generally I was very happy to get through the wide open spaces that I rode through without a headwind. When a truck would go by, it changed wind currents, and really blew me around today. With the narrow shoulders, I really had to hang on and steer a couple of times. Even more so than usual. I rode through miles and miles of grasslands, rolling more than most of Kansas, but not hilly. I crossed many rivers, many creeks, and there was always a lake or pond or watering hole in my sight. So I am no longer in a drought warning area, I would say. It took me this long to get to an area that seemingly has enough water. There were usually range cattle somewhere in my line of sight, and there were many oil rigs out in the distance. I was told by my host last night that this area provided most of the oil that the USA used to win WW1. US 54 has changed quite a bit on the east side of Witchita. 99% of the truck traffic filtered onto the Kansas Turnpike, aka Interstate 35. The shoulder reflected this lack of traffic by reducing its width from the 6-8 ft I've become accustomed to, to more like 2-4 ft. Traffic is so much more sparse that it was seldom an issue. 
I was on a section of the Adventure Cycling Assn. Trans America route that runs from Yorktown, VA to Astoria, Oregon. I discovered this when I passed a man from the Netherlands named John that was soloing to san Fransisco. A few miles later, I ran across two University of Texas students, John and Steven, who were doing the coast to coast for cerebral palsy, trying to raise $30,000 for an acquaintance.. They said they came from a town called Chardon,  a little further south, not on US 54. I found out why they came that way as I rode a little further down the road to Yates Center. I stopped at a convenience store to get ice, and to find out about the 'road closed' and detour signs on US54. It turns out that 54 was closed to rebuild a bridge over some train tracks. The detour was taking people through Chardon, fifty miles out of the way. Well, that wasn't going to happen. I asked a local what the best plan might be, and he told me to go right down to the construction, make a right onto the gravel road, go one mile, make a left on another gravel road, go one mile and make another left, back to 54. I was concerned about that, but it was better than going 50 miles out of the way. I also thought I might be able to sneak through the construction zone, like I've been known to do. I found out that wasn't going to happen, so I took the gravel roads, and it worked out pretty well. It was washboard hardback, pretty dusty, but I just followed traffic and found my way easily. About two miles out of the way. Better to be lucky than good. When in doubt, ask a local! The last 20 miles of the ride were great because there were no trucks, and very minimal traffic all the way to Iola (I-O-la). I pulled into town about six, talked an Indian down ten bucks at the Heritage Inn, walked around town a little, ate at McDonald's ( again!) and plotted my next few days of travel.

Oil rig museum in El Dorado, KS

Corn fields with 4 inch stalks growing

There are still "roadside rests" to have a picnic

A scenic river and waterfall

Ponds were becoming a very common sight

Steven and John heading to Oregon

Plaque explaining usage of the grasslands

Detour on US 54 wasn't as big a headache as I anticipated

My gravel detour road

Welcome sign in Iola, KS



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