Saturday, June 16, 1984
Utica to Tribune, Kan.
I’m reprinting the day-to-day journal entries of a cross-country bike tour my friend and I took in 1984.More about the TransAmerica Tour 1984
We’re walking back from dinner at the Cactus Patch restaurant, and realize we’re riding through history. We’re in the town of Tribune in the county of Greeley. The next town down the road tomorrow will be Horace. Follow the bouncing ball. What did Horace Greeley write in the New York Tribune? “Go west young man!”
We started heading West early in the morning after a torrential downpour struck at 4:30. We ate and washed up at the church (still open, as promised) and hit the road at 6:45. After a few miles the terrain opened up more than before, if that’s possible.
Not a lot between Utica and Tribune. We’d spot a grain elevator on the horizon, pedal for awhile, then see small clumps of trees to the south and north of it as we got closer. These were the towns with the parks. We’d pedal for another hour or more before reaching the town.
Our route veered south for about 9 miles, right into headwinds. This was the challenge of the day, and we took turns drafting. It was soon over, though, and we decided that riding south into the headwinds was harder on the legs, but catching those winds crosswise while heading west made it harder to control the bikes.
We stopped in Leoti on Route 96 for ice cream at a Dairy Queen, and watched an eastbound bicycle tourist ride past. He didn’t see us, and we didn’t call to him. We just sat there like a couple of voyeurs, commenting on how funny he looked, and actually ridiculed him between ourselves when he stopped down the road to make some small adjustment to his bike. Of course, he looked just like we do to other people. It was like watching ourselves from distance and seeing how bizarre we appear. Strange behavior, but I blame the countless hours in the saddle across miles of flat plains in Kansas.
We camped at the 4-H park (for free, again) in Tribune and swam and showered at the adjacent city pool. We ate dinner at the Cactus Patch, when the rains struck again. People in the restaurant shouted happily when the rain hit, and someone asked the waitress to open the blinds so they could watch the rain fall. She complied, and others interrupted their dinner to stand in the small covered entryway to see how hard it was raining.
For these folks living in an agricultural economy, the weather is all important. Later, we were told it was a dry spring and the farmers were hoping for some rain before the wheat harvest. One of the ladies in the restaurant commented that we were lucky we passed through before the wheat harvest and the wheat trucks hit the road. The drivers are young, mostly, and they go fast. Also, they go day and night until they drop, or drive off the road.
The rain stopped and we saw a beautiful sunset from the campsite. We’re leaving Kansas tomorrow. I’ll miss the state. The people were open, friendly, and trusting. The state was much different than anywhere else I’d spent time, and those long lonely miles gave me a chance to find a good rhythm for the trip. Also, for once, there was no struggle against the terrain.
Headline: June 16, 1984 — The Conservation Foundation issues a report stating that the agenda for cleaning up that nation’s environment must change because of newly realized threats, such as acid rain and toxic substances (the report doesn’t mention global warming)…
Almost 100 miles to Tribune, Kansas. We are only 18 or so miles from Colorado. This will be our last night in the mid-way state. Tribune, in Greely County, is named after Horace Greely’s paper of the same name. There are less than 2,000 people here. We are camped near the county pool, which we availed ourselves of this afternoon. We passed into mountain time today, so we arrived here at 5 instead of 6.
It was a beautiful ride this morning. We got on the road at 6:40 and the sun was rising in an overcast sky. It was quiet, and very pretty. The wind didn’t pick up until the afternoon, and we clicked off 25 miles to Dighton by 9 a.m.
There was a powerful thunder and lightning storm around 4 this morning, and Bis and I were both entertaining thoughts of tornado as we listened to the rain pelt the tent. Especially after the grocery bag which contained dinner ingredients had tornado safety tips on it.
This afternoon, the wind picked up and it got hot and the miles got harder. We did two stretches of 24 and 22 miles without stopping and they were tough. We passed the plains and lots of wheat and cattle grazing. In Leoti, the sign said, “Welcome to a great town in the Great Plains.”
As usual, for the past 5 or 6 days, Bis has been keeping a faster pace than I, so I’m usually about 5 minutes behind him into town. He’s usually waiting by the country store or cafe, or in the case of Leoti, at the Dairy Bar.
Tribune is a nice little town, much like all the Kansas towns we have passed through. It’s clean, people are friendly, and they serve 3.2 beer. We are eating dinner at the Cactus Patch Restaurant and they seem busy, I guess because it’s Saturday night.
It’s fixing to storm again. We have the tent up. But some of our other clothes are out and we are a mile or so from camp. No big deal. We’re both tired and looking forward to dinner that is served to us.
Tomorrow, we should see Colorado in the early morning. That will be nice. However, Kansas ranks as one of the nicest states we have been through. Contrary to popular theory, it’s much more than wheat fields and flat roads. The people are extremely friendly and many times went out of their way to help us. There were city parks to camp in for free, and there was plenty to see in the way of terrain.
Ah, but I’ve been waiting for the Rockies and Monarch Pass!
Day 36: Can’t stop cycling — turning in a record day