Day 50: Larned to Dighton
Yesterday after leaving the library in Larned, I stopped at El Dos De Oros for some Mexican food. I ordered a big plate consisted of a taco, a burrito, and a chalupa. After the meal, I rode my bike to the city park where there is a big water park.
(Taco, burrito, and chalupa)
As I was scouting for a location to put my bike I bumped into another cross country cyclist. He had put his bike under the pavilion. After I did the same we started talking. This cyclist's name is Eric and he's going west on the TransAmerica Trail. He's been average over 100 miles per day. The second cyclist I've met who is doing that.
(Eric, another cyclist doing 100 miles per day)
Eric told me that the lifeguard allowed us to use the shower. When Eric left to take a shower, a local resident named Dennis came by and started chatting with me. Dennis is a veteran and visits the veteran memorial every morning. In the summer time, he comes by the park to check on the cyclists and offers any help. I felt he might also be bored and this is something he can do to pass the time and to help others. Once Eric came back, I went to use the shower.
(Dennis, a Larned local)
When I came back, Dennis told us there's a newer pavilion with a wall outlet and access to a new bathroom. Eric and I moved our bikes there and Dennis went home.
I talked with Eric a bit more. He is 39 years old and will turn 40 on June 6, in the middle of his trip. He asked me what's the most significant part of my trip so far. I told him about my lunch conversation with Jim the pastor in Boonville, Kentucky. Eric told me a similar story where he met someone at a convenience store in Kentucky, and they had a conversation about SSI and Medicaid. The person Eric was talking to disliked social programs like SSI and Medicaid because people get accustomed and dependent on them, therefore there's no incentive for them to look for better jobs or education. Both Eric and I agreed that education, whether it's formal or informal, is the ticket to get out of poverty.
As the sun came down, we ended our conversation and went to sleep. Eric slept on the picnic table inside his sleeping bag, whereas I pitched a tent and slept inside.
This morning, both of us got up around 5 AM. After packing we rode to the Sonic Drive-In to get breakfast. I had a grilled chicken sandwich with tater tots and a root beer. It was more of a lunch meal than breakfast, but that's how I like it.
(The road disappears into the horizon)
I headed out first. Soon Eric caught up to me and passed me. We bid our farewells on our bikes. I rode for over 30 miles to Rush Center, where the only food place is Effie's Place. The sign said closed, but a man came out and said I could come in. Inside, there's the usual morning crew. Effie, the 92 year old woman who owns the store, told me she doesn't serve lunch until 11 AM. I ended up getting some water and ate a piece of chocolate cake and some cookies. George, one of the morning crew members, sat next to me and we started chatting. He's 83 years old and is a retired farmer. For his age, he is in great health and seems very alert. I asked him what advice he would give me. He said to enjoy everyday and to find someone good to be with. He also said to never buy a new car. I have to agree on all three.
(George, a retired farmer)
When I was leaving, Effie wouldn't let me pay for the cake and cookies. She is so kind, like many people I've met on this trip.
(Effie, of Effie's Place)
I was riding to Ness City when I caught up to a cyclist named Joe. Joe is in his 60s and he's riding with a trailer on the back of his bike. He can carry more things and he seemed to like it that way. Last year, Joe had a stroke, and it was because of his cycling that he is almost fully recovered. We rode into Ness City together and had lunch at another El Dos De Oros restaurant. I don't know if they are a chain or just happened to have the same name. I was planning to camp at the park in Ness City, but it was only 2 PM. Joe was heading toward Dighton, another 30 miles or so. I decided to go for it. I'll be riding close to 100 miles today if I make it there.
(Wind farms in Kansas)
(Joe, going to Colorado from Ohio)
By the time I got to Dighton I promised myself to never try to ride another 100 miler. I'm a couple miles shy of 100 and it nearly took the fun out of bicycling. The first thing I did was to stop at a roadside dairy bar to get a vanilla malt milkshake. Once Joe caught up, he bought an ice cream cone. I was still thirsty so I also got soda.
(Rode close to 100 miles today, a personal best)
After this break, we found the sheriff's office in the courthouse. We asked the sheriff if we can camp at the city park. He allowed us. I'm currently at the library to write this blog post while Joe went ahead to the park. I'll be heading there, too.