I was up before too long the next morning. It is amazing how fast the body adapts and conditions to long days in the saddle. While I definitely had saddle sores from the previous few days of riding, they stemmed mostly from one pair of bike shorts I used. The other pair caused much less irritation. While your legs are always initially a little sluggish after a big ride, once you get going, it definitely doesn't feel like you rode 210 miles the previous day and 125 miles the day before that! Today, I planned to make 95 miles and the day after I planned to make 60 miles.
While I wanted to make serious progress, which is why I dropped down to the Transamerica cycling route the previous day, I had another, more important, motivation to go further south. A large contingent of my family on my mother's side is from Iowa. I remember us going out to Iowa several times when I was younger for family reunions. Some of those family members had spread out into Kansas, and I planned to visit some family who moved to Hutchinson, KS! I hadn't met Kathy or Scott ever. But my mother had put us in contact, and I was excited to meet them. First, I would have to make my way down a little further south to get to Hutchinson.
However, this being Kansas, my instructions for the day on my GPS were to go straight for 95 miles...
On Strava (the application I used to record all my rides), people can name segments of trails or roads. Usually these segments are between .5 and 5 miles long. The segment I would ride today was called "90 Miles of Nothing..." It was a 90 mile segment... It was also accurate as I had nothing to do all day besides aim straight and pedal.
It wasn't until Eastern Colorado that I pulled out my earbuds and music. Prior to that, the scenery was interesting enough and there was enough to do to easily keep me distracted all day. Additionally, there was the fear of cars hitting me on winding roads and mountain passes. The nice part about biking in a straight line with no hills is safety is far less of a concern, and I felt comfortable putting on some music or an audiobook and biking. With the help of that distraction, 95 miles was over before too long, and I experienced something weird, a bend in the road.
The bend would end at the aptly named city of Great Bend. It was windy all day, and there were signs of rain, so I called it a day and found a hotel. I ate that night at a Taco Bell, and one of the employees asked if he could buy me food. Having my food bought for me by a Taco Bell employee was one of the last things I expected on my trip, but it just shows how generous the people in these smaller towns can be. Taco Bell tastes even better when it's bought for you!
Over the last three days I had rode about 430 miles, so it was time for a well deserved rest day. From Great Bend to Hutchinson, it was only about 65 miles and I was excited to meet up with my extended family!
It rained that night while I was in my hotel and the next day it still showed signs of rain. However, it was much warmer in Kansas than Colorado, and I only had 65 miles to go, so I set out.
Sure enough, before too long it started raining. It wasn't incredibly hard, luckily, and I was able to hide out under some information boards for a bird sanctuary. After about 30 minutes, the rain subsided and I was back on the road.
Not long after though, a car passes me and pulls over. Up until this point, I had only had one other car do that, and that was all the way back in Telluride. I think this was due to me riding with a neck gaiter always pulled up over my face to keep the sun off, but it also made me less approachable, despite what my website says about me being happy to talk. So I was a little skeptical of this car.
Then the door opens and a guy gets out and says "Hey, are you Peter?" And my mind is a little blown. I have no idea who this guy is and while I have my website on my back, I am still 40 miles away from where I would be meeting my family later, so why anyone would know me out in the middle of nowhere on a deserted Kansas road I have no idea. But I am Peter and so I say "I am."
He introduces himself as Luke, and it turns out he's the son of Kathy, who I would be staying with that night! He is a currier and his job just happened to take him on this particular random Kansas road. He heard that his crazy 2nd cousin was biking across the US and staying with his mom that night. so when he saw a biker, he figured it was me! It's a pretty wild coincidence because he doesn't live with Kathy, so we would never have gotten a chance to see each other if his job hadn't had him driving on the particular road I was on. And it wasn't a big road either, since I try to stay on smaller ones to avoid traffic.
Luke was going to be busy that evening, and I wouldn't get another chance to see him, but hopefully one day he makes it out to California and I'll see him then! I'm very thankful we ran into each other when we did!
After we split up, I had a fairly relaxing ride for the rest of the day. I let Kathy know I was approaching Hutchinson and would be at her house soon.
As I rounded the corner onto her block, I see a woman with a sign waving and giving me a cheer! It turns out it was one of Kathy's friends who heard I was coming and made the effort to make the sign and greet me as I came in. I felt very honored! It's a special feeling to have a sign made for you!
A little further down the block I met Kathy. Kathy and Scott were both incredibly nice to me and had a little snack ready for me to tide us over until dinner where they planned to take us to an Amish restaurant just a little ways away. They also introduced me to Dot's Pretzels, which are the best tasting pretzels I've ever had and I highly recommend.
Before too long, it was time to head to dinner, and it was delicious! All you can eat too, which is something every cycle tourist loves to hear! They also had these gigantic cinnamon rolls, which were fantastic, and pie! I would consider that a very successful meal, all thanks to Kathy and Scott!
This is a photo of a very happy guy with a frisbee-sized cinnamon roll in hand.
We headed back to Kathy and Scott's house and before too long I was asleep after the previous several hard days of riding.