The motel I stayed at last night didn’t offer a free breakfast, which ment my first job was finding some food. Greensburg, in the aftermath of the tornado, only has one resturant – the Mexican I ate at last night. So I had to push on, I ended up stopping in Mullinville – while it was good to have a cooked breakfast for the first time in weeks, it also slowed me down. Breakfast took about 45 minutes, and I ended up talking to M.T. Liggett (he just told me to call him M.T.) a retired airforce engeneer. He had been all around the world, including England – so knew where I was from! He is now an artist, making metal sculptures which he displays on the side of the road.
I finally got going again, and the wind had picked up. For most of this morning it was a crosswind, coming from the south but shifted at about 11.00 to a full on headwind. To start with it wasn’t too bad but by the time I reached Dodge City it was really strong. It took ages to get into Dodge City due to some major road works. The city is famous for being ‘the cowboy capital of the world’, at one time no town could match Dodge City’s reputation as a true frontier settlement of the Old West. Dodge City had more famous (and infamous) gunfighters working at one time or another than any other town in the West, many of whom participated in the ‘Dodge City War’ of 1883. It is also the windiest city in America with an average wind speed of 13.9mph.
What they don’t tell you about Dodge City is that the whole place stinks due to all the cattle that are kept there and the meat processing plants. It was a releif to get out of the city, but by the time I did the wind had become even stronger – I crawled into Cimaron where I stopped for lunch. Cimaron was a tiny place, and it was a relief to find a resturant there – by the time I stopped I was exhausted and baked, with the temperature hitting 35 degrees. I don’t think an ice cold drink has ever been more welcome. Although I had done most of the days cycling I still had 36 miles to go, and was told by the waitress that the wind was now blowing at 35mph! So I reluctantly left and pushed on.
The area of Kansas I am going through now is far more arid than the eastern half, and the last strech today was almost devoid of anythig other than the road, the wind, and the horizon. It was really tough going – I was working really hard just to get an average speed of above 10mph. The wind couple with the heat made it feel like cycling through treacle inside a blast furnace. The wind also has the unpleasent side effects of whipping sand and grit up into your face and of making your mouth so dry that you feel thirsty all the time. All in all it was a really long, hard, hot day and by the time I crawled into Garden City 100 miles from where I started I was exhausted and a shower had never felt so good.
If the wind is as bad tomorrow as it was today I might have to rethink my plan and have some shorter days. I think that today was easily the most difficult day so far – somehow the wind is far more soul destroying than cycling up hills. At least with hills you know there’s a top that you can reach, but with the wind there is no getting past it – you have no choice but to forge on through.