Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29, 2012: PAP Day 4, Lakin to Dodge City, KS

We left Lakin at 5:30 AM. Now that we are in Central Time, dawn is around 6:30, so it was completely dark for a half-hour after which the sky began to lighten. Speaking of lights, I was very pleased with the first use of my new Cygolite 400. I had it set at the normal "bright" setting, and it completely illuminated the road in front, and far enough to support my mid-teen speeds and more. I am using a Dinotte 300R tail light, which performs spectacularly even in full sunlight, so I had no concerns at all on that score.

Fred has a rear light and two little flashers, none of which are properly mounted to do anything other than to alert insects in the roadway that Fred has just gone by. I thought he had purchased a rear light like mine, but no. After a few of my sarcastic comments, he realized the problem and decided to address it by mounting his bright, white front light on his rear rack, facing rearward, running it in strobe mode. While that approach probably confuses drivers and might earn him a ticket, it is undoubtedly effective. That just left him without front illumination, but he figured he could work around that by following me closely.

This is just one of many areas in which I am unable to follow Fred's logic. He certainly would not see road debris, for example, in order to avoid it. Anyway, all I can do is to offer my opinion. His mind works quite differently from mine, which is one of the reasons I am so fond of him, and why I enjoy traveling with him as much as I do. He seems to have a bit of Mr. Magoo-style luck, so hopefully he will be fine without adopting my style of catastrophic fantasizing and obsessive precautions.

Starting the ride in the dark allowed me to forget to reset and start recording on my GPS-based bike computer until a half-hour later. Of course, I have a second GPS (see what I mean!), so that was just a little inconvenience. Of more import to both of us, was that it was COLD. At the last minute of packing I decided that I was over-packing and unpacked some warmer stuff, including some warmer gloves that would have been very nice to have. I expect the morning temperatures will be warmer each day, and even if not, it is not like I am back on Togwotee Pass, for crying out loud! I have survived the discomfort just fine. Ignore my whining. There were more significant issues afoot. If you have been reading along, you probably can guess.

Yup, the wind. We started with a bearable head-wind that knocked a couple of mph off our pace, but as the day progressed, the head wind just kept getting worse. The result was that the 77.5 mile route took us 6 hours and 49 minutes in the saddle, making it the longest ride of the trip time-wise, and the most draining for me. Fred thinks yesterday was worse, but I think it is just because I spent much more time at the front today and he has become pretty adept at finding shelter behind me. The last 17 miles he suggested that we switch the lead every mile, which we did and which made the misery somewhat more bearable. I am definitely much more sore tonight than I have been.

On the subject of wind, a sight that is not generally a good omen for bicycle riders is that of a major wind farm. I am enthusiastic about alternate, sustainable energy, so I found the presence of a large number of turbines on the hills next to the highway very exciting. In fact, about 20 miles before we arrived at Dodge,  Fred suggested a road-side rest stop and I took the opportunity to pedal up a "bonus" hill across the road to get a better look and a photo.

If you are reading this blog as research for your own similar ride, I would NOT recommend the route we took today. We were not sure about the off-highway route suggested by Google Maps bike-routing algorithm, so we decided to play it safe and stick to the main highway (50/400). It is safe enough, in spite of the high speed and number of vehicles flying past. We have found the shoulders to be very wide and clean, making for easy and safe positioning. In addition, as usual, the drivers have been extremely courteous. Most move over a full lane unless it is not possible to do so. The problem for me is the constant noise, and the additional buffeting from the bow waves of the approaching trucks and the wakes of the trucks passing on our side. In particular, the venting of the trailers on the livestock trucks seems to cause especially great disturbance. Oncoming trucks throw a HEAP of turbulence, and the trucks passing from behind us cause a brief, but definite suction effect. The suction is great when dealing with a head wind and welcome in spite of the characteristic perfume of these trucks, but it does not make up for the blast from the oncoming trucks.

Then there are the trains. The Santa Fe tracks run right next to the highway most of the time, and the racket from the endless freight trains can rattle your (my) brain. I've requested, and Fred has agreed, to get off the highway tomorrow. We'll see how that goes.

We were not too tired to walk down the street to visit the Boot Hill museum, which contains replicas of some of the original Dodge City buildings, and some 20,000 artifacts. It was interesting and not offensively commercial. Admission is only $9 or so. While there, Fred bumped into his old buddy, the sheriff.

Boot Hill Museum
A couple of working girls in the museum's saloon.
Exceptional 'stach, Sheriff!


  1. Seth's light is also $200, cheap I suppose, if you estimate human life. Fred's blinking Bell red light was $15. And if a driver mistakes Fred's blinking white front light now on the back of his bike for a bike GOING BACKWARDS, god help them all!
    -Not Fred

  2. And that guy with Fred was not just any sheriff. It was Fred's nemesis Sam Elliott, and apparently there's not a woman Fred knows who doesn't LOVE Sam Stupid Elliott and his stupid deep voice and his stupid mustache.
    -Not Fred (again)

  3. AAAAhhhhh...Sam Elliott.....