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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Day 42 - Race Across America

Todays mileage: 45
Total mileage: 2,090
End point: Wichita, KS

Over breakfast I chatted to a sweet little family from Kansas who were doing a mini vacation round the state. I got a little lesson about barbed wire and the enclosure of the prairie land. On my travels through the county roads I had noticed the fencing was made out of white slabs, it turns out these are limestone and make up a layer underneath the prairie grass. As there were few trees and rocks these slabs were essential to the enclosure and harden as they are left out in the weather. I told them about the ball of twine ;)

Leaving Hutchinson I saw something I hadn't seen since I had left England - a train station. (I'm sure I've passed nearby one..) This is remarkable as I think for at least of half of my journey, if not more has been on roads which run parallel to train tracks, but all the trafic has been cargo or coal. I do actually have a burning desire to catch an Amtrak one day, however its expensive, its very slow and it probably doesn't go where you want it to go! It is definately a method of transport to be enjoyed for the journey, rather like this one.

Leaving Hutchinson I was heading due south into a 25-30mph headwind, and during this stretch I was averaging 7mph. Conditions were best described to me by locals at the first gast station I stopped at:
'Heck, what a day to ride in' - an older gentleman with a gentle tap on my shoulder
'You're more of a man than me' - a heavily tattooed man probably 6 inches taller than me and weighing at least twice as much as me
'This is Kansas' - a middle aged woman throwing her hands in the air to simulate wind turbulence

And so it was - more headwinds, on my journey today I had about 10 miles out of the 45 which were due West and not quite so bad, but the bits heading south and south west were very hard work. I cycled passed an Amish community, didn't see any horse and carts on the road, the only sign being some old horse poop left on the shoulder and some warning signs for drivers. Also saw my first turtle having what I hope was a nap. I arrived in Wichita around 4pm after follwing route 96 into the city and am now happily staying with the Hansons, who I will dedicate tomorrows blog today.

Not long after I'd showered and turned back into a clean human. I had a delightful dinner with Gemma and Dan (Gemma is my best mans sister). They have been having a phenominal trip round the world of which I must say I am a little bit jealous; japan, china, more of the far east, loads of south america and now the US. They have been keeping an excellent blog on www.dgtrip.co.uk , which has loads of good features like a post and photo map. The US leg of their trip is lasting a bit over a month and involves them heading west coast to east coast - so we figured we had to meet up, a bit too random not too. They have also got engaged on their travels, so congratulations and enjoy the last few weeks.

As we left the restaurant a race across america (RAAM) support vehicle was spotted in the car park. I think I mentioned RAAM in my blog 20 days a go or so - riders race across the states in a mad 12 days, minimal sleep and insane endurance. We shuffled back into the restaurant to try and identify the crew. James and Steve are the second support crew for Nicholas Rice-McDonald, a scotsman although he appears to be registered as american on the website. We asked them quite a few questions about sleeping (they jump in an RV) and draughting (not allowed) and they produced a masive rulebook - this race is a complex business. Each rider has GPS tracking and you can see in real time their progress, our competitor was in third place when I checked earlier and just going past Wichita. The website address is:
http://www.raceacrossamerica.org/raam/raamfp.php?N_webcat_id=109
If you want to view the live interactive map click on the 'Results' drop down menu. I am going to be avidly following their progress now, I can't believe how close I have ended up to the race.

Rest day tomorrow home with the Hansons and maybe a little sight seeing!

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