Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 17 Great Plains, Grains, and Seeds Yuma, CO – Oberlin, KS 138 miles

A very good day of pedaling. For roughly 50 miles today I heard the rare sound of the chain around the rings. This means that the effective wind speed around the bike was zero….a 20 mile per hour tailwind and a biker going in the same direction at the same speed. Very nice. Near the Nebraska border I saw two tourers heading into that same wind towards San Francisco. Two very nice guys recently graduated from Goshen College. We had a great chat about routes, bikes, and journeys. It always energizes me to meet people who live all the way up. They’re not hard to spot.

I had expected the bulk of the day to be similar in terrain to yesterday but it was actually quite different. I crossed briefly into Nebraska and that wonderful cooling wind blew me straight down the cottonwood draw of the Republican River. Then I headed south on Kansas Route 161. Beautiful fields of sunflowers and wheat bending with the Keewaydin wind that howled across the prairie. I finally felt like I was in the bread basket of the world, that section of our wonderful country that feeds billions of people their food. For a time today, everything seemed pointed in the same direction: my bike, my hunched body, and millions of stately sunflower and corn stalks bending to the east.

Northwestern Kansas is surprisingly hilly. Route 36 has a lot of ups and downs. On tops of some of the hills, one can see for 30 or 40 miles across great open farm and grassland. The road was smooth, so each downhill blast of speed propelled me back up the next roller coaster hill with yet another wonderful view. More motorists waved at me today than any other day of the trip. August 20th - 17 days into the journey – I finally felt like a bicyclist.

1 comment:

  1. Paul, are you still on US36 in northern Kansas?! Emergency, take action, divert your path immediately... the world's largest ball of twine is in Cawker City, Kansas. That's only one parallel road to your south, on US24. When will you ever be closer? Our cat Francisco says, "Twine 4 Housepets, dude!"