Editor’s Note: Justin Field, UD Class of 2011, embarked on a TSD-sponsored bike-ride across America to raise money and awareness for the Food Bank of Delaware. This is an update on his progress as he travels through Virginia. To read his last entry, click here.
Day 27: Hesston to Larned
Today was possibly the toughest day so far on the trip.
It was a Sunday so it was hard to find anything open in the beginning of our ride. There were two factors that made Karey and I nervous about the day: the temperature was expected to ride above 100 degrees and we had a stretch of 58 miles through rural Kansas without any public place to refill water.
The beginning of the ride was uneventful and consisted of forty miles through now standard country roads with strands of trees here and there separating individual plots of farmland. The 58 mile stretch began in Nickerton, a small town with a classic western main street.
Grabbing our midday meal at the Sunshine Cafe, a main street diner, we were warned gruffly by an older man that the road ahead was very remote, and we best bring a lot of water.
We had already filled all of our available water containers, but just for good measure we bought some extra Gatorade at the Kwik Shop convenience store.
Because of the availability of camping, we had to make it to Larned, the next town down the road, and we started down the road in the heat of the day.
After the first 15 miles I started to feel just how hot it was. I wasn’t even sweaty because the sweat evaporated too quickly. I went through my Camelbak water supply and then my two water bottles.
At one point we went past a natural artesian well that seemed to me like it was placed there for the sole purpose of cooling off semi-overheating bikers.
Further down the road I needed a break, and our maps indicated a restaurant about a mile off the route. I looked it up on my phone, and despite the town’s lowly population of 68 people, the restaurant listed a phone number online.
I called, and even though they had closed over two hours ago, the owner answered the phone and offered to let us fill our water bottles and cool off. We took about forty five minutes to cool off, and we waited for our bodies to recover as the temperature peaked at 105 degrees.
We finished the day by biking past fields intentionally set on fire after the wheat harvest, which was an impressive sight, but heated the air around it even more and increased the difficulty of the last few miles.
After finally making it to Larned, we found the free campsite in the city park, and were invited to use the city pool, which was about to close. A cold pool never felt better.
The hot day gave way to strong Kansas winds as we fell asleep for the night.