KANSAS IS ONE OF THE FRIENDLIEST PLACES WE HAVE EVER BIKED THROUGH. People are cautiously and sincerely inquisitive, generous and encouraging. Cars without exception give us a wide berth and the shoulders of the road aren’t bad either.
Most Towns in Kansas have trees and nice parks and often have public swimming pools as well. In Elkhart, we called a local RV Park to ask if they allowed tenters and the woman let us stay in her park for free!
The wind alway blows strong here. So the direction of the wind is very important when cycling through Kansas. Consequently we have been interrogating the locals about predominant wind directions and so far we have come up with the following information:
The wind either blows from the south or the north, unless a storm is coming in.
When a storm is coming, it either comes from the east or the west.
We have also learned about hail. Apparently you know hail is coming when the sky is green. Locals have also warned us about the impressive size of Kansan hail, apparently reaching the size of softballs. Check out this site for some pics of some impressively sized hail stones http://www.chaseday.com/hailstones.htm.
There aren’t too many campgrounds in Western Kansas but luckily most people seem to understand. We spent this night in the town park in Sublette, narrowly escaping the sprinkler fire with a tent groundsheet and some expert late-night positioning. This was the 3rd of July, and the were fireworks going off all around us!
We spent the 4th of July in Dodge City, Kansas and to our lamentation, we are still in Dodge as the result of a mechanical breakdown. The fixing bolt that holds on Trenton’s left crank arm came loose and broke, allowing the the arm to slide off the spindle protruding from the bottom bracket. Without the bolt, the crank arm will slide off while riding despite the fact that it is also held on by two opposing mechanical screws on the crank arm. As it slides, it has the tendency to destroy the crank arm.
And, as luck would have it, there are no bicycle shops in Dodge City. Even calling the bicycle shops in surrounding cities such as Wichita, Garden City, Topeka and Hutchinson no one seems to carry this bike part. Given that the crank set I have is generally used for downhill riding (a sport that usually entails chairlifts and bare ski slopes), it is not surprising that they don’t carry the parts in Kansas, the flattest state in the US.
But here, Amazon.com came to the rescue and is sending me what I think is the right part to the campground where we are staying. It is just unfortunate that the only shipping option to Dodge City is 3-5 Business Days. So it looks like we will be here a little while longer, camping next to a dry river and spending our days on the internet at Burger King. It is mercilessly hot here and the winds blow at 20-30mph so its not that fun to be outdoors midday. Luckily, we are ahead of schedule for arriving in Missouri and so having some extra days eaten up camping isn’t too bad!
It is just part of bike touring we are finding out, to be stranded in strange places waiting for parts to arrive. But if this isn’t the right part, we may have to take the train to Kansas City or farther to find the right part and catch our flight home from St. Louis. One way or another, we’ll have to find some way to get the hell out of Dodge!