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Sunday 19 June 2011

Day 41 - Brighton Rock

Todays mileage: 64
Total mileage: 2,045
End point: Hutchinson, KS

Happy fathers day! Shout out to my dad. Sorry I tried to get in contact but my phone has finally given up today and does all kinds of things by itself. The touch screen now activates various functions and I am going to try and figure out a contingency plan until I can claim on my insurance when back in England.

So to todays slightly obscure title. Well this morning over breakfast I was recollecting completing the London to Brighton bike ride (the UK's largest charity ride) which I did a few years back with some friends from e.on (Mr. Oliver Bliss I'll give you a little shout out here ;) Brighton is the gay capital of England and also the setting for Graham Greene's thriller Brighton Rock, which it just so happened I watched on the plane over here. I have to say I prefer The Third Man as a novel. The reason this sprang to mine was two fold, firstly I do a london to brighton bike ride nearly everyday (it seemed so hard then!) and secondly because the day we did it was 32c (90f) and was the hottest day of the year - we all got sunburnt! So I thought that was hot, today in Kansas the high was 104f, I'll give that to you in celsius = 40!!!! I cycled through this, I cannot explain how brutal and oppressive this heat is. Now here is the really random bit, when I logged onto facebook today it turned out to be the very day of the London to Brighton bike ride, massive coincidence. Well done to all those riders, but I assure such a distance is harder in the Kansas sun.

I headed west out of Great Bend on route 56 and immediately saw a sign for the scenic byway and a winery which was very tempting, but with this heat a glass of wine would have destroyed me. It was hard enough keeping hydrated as it was. This road was covered in pro-life billboards which seem to have suddenly appeared in Kansas, I had seen a handful in my prior states. I have two thoughts on this, firstly men have too many opinions on an issue they will likely never have to deal with, and secondly I'm just not sure that a sign actually has any positive impact, surely such better to invest such time and money into supporting adoption or similar. I do however empathise with both sides on this very divisive issue.

I cruised through Ellinwood and decided I needed to get off route 56 as once again the magic missing shoulder disease had taken over this road. So onto the dreaded country roads, the good thing being that trucks are banned. Combine harvesters it would appears are not, after about 20 minutes I came face to face with one. This thing was taking up the entire road and whilst I managed to shuffle by via a ditch I really don't know what would have happened if it had met a car. It turned the harvesters were in full force in Rice County, cropping the wheat. This is interesting because in England I believe we harvest in September generally, but with this heat I could understand the difference.

I cycled into the quiet town of Raymond, and almost got chased by a dog. The Alsatian* lept from the porch ran about 5 metres, then slow jog and by the time it reached me had turned into a ultra slow waddle - he just couldn't be bothered in the heat. I almost got caught in a sand trap taking the wrong road in Raymond but got back on track. The country roads can be a bit of maze of dead ends, tracks, sand, loops, and more fields.

Back on the paved road I arrived in Alden, an immaculate village which claimed to have an antiques shop and a cafe. Cycling down its very very short main street I found the cafe closed, but couldn't quite make out if this was a permanent closure or just a Sunday closure. This village probably had about 30 to 40 homes but had a well maintained little park and I was extremely impressed to find a full 18 holes of crazy golf there!! This I think should be mandated across all villages and towns - a public crazy gold course. I apologise for not taking a picture. By this point I was getting very thirsty and had nearly finished my disgustingly hot water in my water bottle.

I got back on the highway to take me into Sterling a beautiful college town which reminded me of Oxford in Ohio where Miami University is located. Straight into the gas station for 52 fluid ounces of fanta - nearly down in one. That's over 1.5litres so don't be surprised if I go orange soon. I did a massive refuel of sandwiches and sweets. Leaving Sterling I went over the Arkansas river which I raised a smile as I will be staying there (as in the state) in a couple of weeks. The water was low, but there was a couple with a dog floating down the river on lilos. I would have done anything at this point to have swapped my bike for a lilo. I'm not sure if the arkansas river goes through little rock but it would be an easier journey I think!

I road through to Nickerson which had 2 points of interest. Firstly I loved their High School - which had a big 'NHS' sign on it - no not a British Hospital. (NHS = National Health Service = the british healthcare system). The second thing leaving Nickerson I saw was Zebras, what fun, they may have even been Zorses too. They probably weren't zorses but its one of my favourite words in the english language; zorses are the babies of a horse and a zebra mating, they are however infertile and so are rarely bred. The zebras belonged too a bizarre bed and breakfast with exotic animals, which I was very nearly tempted to stay at, but the animals looked in better shape than the hotel.

I am now in Hutchinson, quite a grubby looking town but I have a very cheap motel with a swimming pool - the swim was much needed. I have also been receiving a few reader contributions:

Vince (pam's dad) has now informed me that Wichita is famous for the founding of pizza hut which he thought was very apt after my coupons, this motel is actually right next to another pizza hut. Oh and 70% of aeroplanes come from Wichita. Probably should have saved these facts for tomorrow.

Nick Evans (a good friend from LG&E) sent me the link for the 8 wonders of Kansas: These all look very good, but I had to laugh at one of the finalists; the worlds largest ball of twine!! Please check the link out! The twine is 1,500 miles long, but as today I passed the 2,000 mile mark I think I can officially say I am better than that ball of twine ;)

Wichita tomorrow and time to see some friends!

*Alsatians are the UK name for German Shepherd dogs, they were renamed after World War 1 due to anti-German sentiment in the UK. Apparently the UK kennel club has now officially renamed them German Shepherds, but I have never heard them called that.

1 comment:

  1. Over 2,000 miles--woo hoo!!!!!! Enjoy seeing familiar faces tomorrow! Very cool that you saw zebras...I enjoyed learning what a zorse was. :-)