Due to the bad weather recently, I have got into the habit of looking out the window as soon as I wake up so I can prepare myself for whatever awaits outside. I peered bleary-eyed out the window this morning and thought it must be frosted glass. It wasn’t. I started riding this morning in some of the most dense fog I have ever seen. I felt like the only person on the planet – at 07.00 on Sunday morning there are no cars on the road, and everything beyond that was masked in a thick white blanket.
It took a good two hours to clear, and when it did I found myself in some pretty awesome countryside – the flint hills may not be challenging, but they are picturesque. I didn’t think Kansas would be as green as it is, it’s not unlike areas of rural England – but on a massive scale (it is America after all). Rather than the fields of crops that seem to be the prevailing image of Kansas, the area I passed through today was dedicated to cattle, with herds far bigger than any we get in the UK.
Right from the get-go this morning I was cycling along highway 400, a road that I’m going to be on all the way to Colorado. There was just about no wind this morning, meaning that I zoomed trough the fog, averaging about 18mph – although there were some hills they tended to be long, easy grades that didn’t slow me down too much. I have noticed that the road kill has become more varied since I entered Kansas – I have now seen quite a few armadillos pasted across the road (although no live ones yet!) – I’m also becoming practiced at holding my breath as I pass.
I left the countryside about 70 miles into the day, when I hit the first suburbs of Wichita. Wichita is the capitol of Kansas, and the 51st biggest city in the US – with over half a million residents it’s more populous than the whole of Wyoming! I was cycling the whole width of it – more than 30 miles, fortunately it was all on the same road, so I couldn’t get lost. It was a bit scary at times, as the road had about 10 lanes in some places, but had a nice shoulder for me to ride on. I had nearly crossed the city when I police car pulled along side me and told me to get off the road at the next exit. I did as I was told, feeling it unwise to argue, even though the only roads I’m not allowed on in Kansas are the interstates (I checked before I decided on my route) and so was well within my rights to be there. I pulled off near some resturants and stoped for lunch, knowing that I only had about 10 miles left to clear. I got talking to a guy who works in the aerospace industry and he told me in reaponse to me asking ‘So what are you doing inthe middle of Kansas?’ he told me that In the 20th century, aircraft pioneers such began projects that lead to Wichita’s establishment as the ‘Air Capital of the World’. The aircraft corporations Stearman Aircraft, Cessna, Mooney and Beechcraft were all founded in Wichita in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft remain based in Wichita, as well as Learjet and Spirit AeroSystems, and both Airbus and Boeing maintain a workforce in there.
I covered the last few miles quite slowly, and wasned helped by a strech riding into the wind to re-join highway 400. I made it to the hotel by 16.00 and had an average speed today of 18.3 mph which was great. As I’m writing this a pretty violent thunderstorm has broken out – I’ve had a look out the window, and I can really see how powerful the wind in Kansas can be – the trees outside look like their about to blow over.
I did 102 miles today, and am doing about the same tomorrow, so im going to get am early night.