What a difference a day makes: Hutchinson, KS

Saturday June 20, 2009, 75 miles (121 km) – Total so far: 1,907 miles (3,069 km)

There was some sign of rain overnight on the cars outside as we broke our fast, but that was only a preface for what was to come. It started raining as we checked out, and Virginia and I looked at each other, shrugged, and headed out anyways.  It worked out well for us!We headed west from El Dorado on a four lane, divided highway, and almost had the whole thing to ourselves.  20+ miles of showers – free sweat! – and we just took the right lane, and only one jerk in 20 miles had any problem with it.  There was so little traffic the cars and trucks had not problems changing lanes, and the polite drivers here in Kansas did just that.

On the way, we came upon the Whitewater River, which had Virginia ready to pull out her kayak; at least until we saw it was flat and muddy.  The rain and overcast kept it cool, and when the highway was about to turn into limited access, we hopped off, found 53rd street, and found it was just basically a country road.  As we passed I-35, there was a restaurant still serving breakfast, and we replenished our energy reserves.  OK, we had a second breakfast, much better than the one in our motel last night.  The staff was amazed that (a) we were riding our bikes in the rain, and (b) we were on a coast to coast bike trip. I’m not sure which was more surprising to them!

We crossed the Little Arkansas River, then came to a bigger river which I think was the Arkansas River, but it didn’t have a sign.  (By the way, we’re informed in this state it’s the ar-Kan’-sas river, not pronounced like that state downstream.  I guess that’s like how when you go up north, you learn to mis-pronounce “Appalachian” so it sounds like “appellation.”)  Went through a Wichita sprawl housing area, and then we were back in the country.  Found the road to Hutchinson, hopped on it, and kept going.

This was even better than the first one.  It had wide shoulders for 32 of the 37 miles we were on it, with few interruptions, and again, when we had to take the lane, the motorized drivers didn’t have a problem with it.  It’s almost like they had to learn how to change lanes before they got a license!  The rain got heavy at times, and there was one rumble of thunder, but we kept on rolling.

After a while, I realized we had been riding for two hours, and that’s usually the time my back end politely requests a break.  (Ahem.)  Mt. Hope, if there really is a town, wasn’t visible from the highway, and neither of us wanted to risk a 4-mile detour just to see if there was something there.  But 10 miles further on, Haven provided just that.  Gas station with a deli – some of these things are horrid, and some, like the one in Haven, are surprisingly good!

Back on the road, it had stopped raining, but was still heavily overcast.  No sunscreen today!  There was a slight, 5 mph or so, tailwind, which helped a bit.  We managed to get into Hutchinson by 2:00 with 75 miles under our tires, and it was easy.  Virginia and I both felt like we could have done another 25 to make it a century without any real problem today; except for that tiny bit about 25 miles would have put us square in the middle of nowhere.  The town of 40,000 or so is stable, if not growing.  That’s better than some of the smaller towns we’ve come through.  Morton Salt has a big plant in South Hutchinson, so some of the salt I need so much may come from there!  I stopped at the bike shop to get the key to the biker hostel Zion Lutheran Church offers, and inquire about getting my bike checked.  The tune-up went well, and we’ve set up “camp” in the church basement.  They offer a place to sleep, a shower, restrooms, and the use of their kitchen.  (We went out for ribs, since we have to pull another long ride tomorrow.)

I’m not sure which factor made the biggest difference today.  We were fairly well rested today.  We both had replenished our fluids last night.  (Probably neither of those.)  The temperature was moderate, staying below 80 degrees until we were finished.  The rain kept us cool.  And instead of those blasted headwinds, we had a cross-wind or tailwind almost the whole way today.

I reminded Virginia of a ride a summer or two ago that ended up with us getting soaked in the last five blocks before we got home, and she said she was never going to ride with me again when it looked like it might rain.  That was before we got to Kansas, so maybe she’s learned “never say never.”

BTW, no pictures from me today, since my camera’s not waterproof!

Table of Contents

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s