Ty's Ride for the Cure

Los Angeles-Boston





Day 22- Dodge City, KS-Great Bend, KS

85.7 official miles

4:52 time, 18.1 average

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Today was a all round great day with everyone’s spirits soaring.  We woke up with 20 mph winds.  They were coming out of the South and we were heading Northeast which is a good thing.  Although the winds at times were a cross wind (not angry but at a 90 degree angle) when we headed East, we were able to average over 18 mph and arrived in Great Bend at 1:00.  That allowed us free time to do things like laundry and look for a non-existent bike shop.

The scenery today looked much like yesterday’s scenery without the oil wells. You can actually see a town’s water tower from about 9 miles away.  Also, we have determined how to roughly calculate a town’s population.  We simply count the grain elevator silos from a couple of miles away.  Most of the towns are five or six silo towns, but occasionally we enter a metropolis which can have up to eight.  Really big towns have elevators with a dedicated locomotive switch engine.  All these towns are so quaint and the ultimate in Americana. Isn't it hard to tell when I’m not being sarcastic?

Today we passed through Midway, Kansas.  Its claim to fame is that it is exactly halfway between San Francisco and New York, although I doubt anyone traveling between these two cities has ever taken that route.  It is however in the exact center of the country, so most of its citizens are centrist, whatever that is.  Photos prove we were there.

I rode with Bill Salamone and Barry Wilcox today.  That should satisfy Bill’s fans since I am posting photos of him today.  Bill and I haven’t ridden together for several days.  First, he was nursing a bruised bottom and saddle sores (folks it is very serious when a grown man swallows all sense of humility and has to go to the doctor to have him look at his butt).  Rumor has it that Bill, an easterner from Pennsylvania got the bruised butt, (oops bottom) from a mechanical bull ride in a bar in Flagstaff, but like I say, that is only rumor.  Anyway once Bill came back to the tour (that sounds a little more bike-like don’t you think?) he decided he was going to be Speed Racer.  He only stops for nature breaks, SAG stops and trains.  Occasionally he stops for cars.  Other than that he just wants to go, go, go.  Fortunately his nature breaks are more frequent as that comes with age.  This explains why there haven’t been any pictures of him lately.  Bill has been very fast and it took me five miles or so to catch him and Barry this morning.  They only let me hang with them because I would take pictures of them and Bill told me I would have to pull the last 30 miles.

For today’s history lesson,  Kansas is derived from an Indian word,  KanZe a Dakota (or is it Lakota) or perhaps Osage word meaning south wind.  We are now spending our third night in Kansas and I’m still trying to figure out the State’s nickname.  It is called many things including the Sunflower State, the Wheat State, the Cyclone State, the Garden of the West, the Central State, the Grasshopper state, Bleeding Kansas, the Squatter State and the Jayhawk State.  Hmmm.  I understand the sunflower, wheat and central state references and I have ascertained why they are no longer the Garden of the West.  A Rocky Mountain Locust (grasshopper) plague in July of 1874 erased any hope of the name Garden being included in the State’s nickname, although the grasshoppers probably thought the name most appropriate.  Although that wiped out one nickname, it created another one, the Grasshopper State.  How’s that for a motto to attract tourism. In late July, 1874 they came without warning in swarms so large they blocked out the sun and sounded like a rainstorm. When a swarm landed, the omnivorous pests brought near total destruction. Crops were eaten out of the ground, as well as the wool from live sheep and clothing off people's backs. Paper, tree bark and even wooden tool handles were devoured. Hoppers were reported to have been several inches deep on the ground and locomotives could not get traction because the insects made the rail too slippery. Settlers did their best to stop the hoppers by raking them into piles, like leaves, and burning them but these efforts were in vain because of the sheer numbers of the pests. The hoppers usually stayed from two days to a week and then left as they had come, on the wind (this last section cut and pasted from the internet, so don’t be too impressed with my knowledge).

Bleeding Kansas is a reference to the strife prior to and during the Civil War, so that no longer applies.  And the Squatter State sounds either like a reference to people squatting on the land during pioneer days or….oops us bikers don’t squat.  OK.  That leaves the Jayhawk State.  Have you ever seen a jayhawk.  And wouldn’t a jayhawk need a tree to nest in.  There are NO trees in Kansas.  The jayhawk is actually a mythical bird, two parts blue jay and one part sparrow hawk.  I betcha didn’t know that.  The blue jay steals from other bird’s nest and the sparrow hawk is a stealthy hunter.  During the pre-Civil War days the ruffians of both sides-the Free Staters and the people who wanted Kansas to be a slave state-were both known as Jayhawkers, since they robbed and pillaged the other side.  My only question is “why would a State want this for a nickname?”  I much prefer the Lone Star State or the Show Me State or the Sunshine State.  And that’s about all there is to say about that.

Signing off for another day.

Seems like a long way to go.
Barry and me or is it I on the tractor.
The monument on Pawnee Rock. Bill, Barry and Jed, sans scowl.
This seemed pretty cool to me. Taken while riding.
Taken while riding. Are they racing?? Jed in foreground.
I left this from yesterday. What is Eric doing with his leg? A showgirl in his prior life?
Bill in Larned. This was a really cool town. The old bank is now a police station so don't try to rob it.
Flat number five. Definitely out of the money on the flat pool.
Bill and the little engine that could.