With the cyclotouring season in full swing, more cyclists are making their way through Kansas. Here are a few of the comments we’ve seen:
Aaron & Laura Beese, as part of their Fifty by Bike tour, have an interesting story about their journey to the geographic center of Kansas. An excerpt:
Leaving the baking heat, vast desert stretches, and challenging climbs of New Mexico, we were certainly ready for a lower-stress touring environment. We got it as soon as we crossed the Kansas line: one mile in, we entered Elkhart for our first taste of the touring cyclist’s promised land that is Kansas. Here we found a city pool with showers and a welcoming staff who refused to charge us admission (”Oh, you’re bikers? Just go on in and enjoy”), a perfectly maintained city park that the accommodating police readily allowed us to camp in, and the friendliest people we have met anywhere on our journey. This wonderful experience was repeated time after time across Kansas, and we enjoyed swimming, showering, and camping in Elkhart, Sublette, Larned, Dodge City, Lucas, and Smith Center. It seemed as though every town in Kansas with at least 1,000 people had a nice city pool, a well-kept city park, and a small but well-stocked grocery store. What more could a touring cyclist ask for? (read more)
We all agreed that Kansas, thus far, has been the prettiest states we’ve been in. Highway 54 is ranked, right now, as the No Limits Bike Riders favorite road. Every single part of Kansas looks like a painting. Or how I described it: The picture on the front of those farm puzzles for children, with the different colored cows, one big green hill, blue sky and stick fence. Picture perfect.
On his Bike Across America – 2008 tour, Kip Vosburgh says:
Kansas gets a bum rap from most travelers. It is that huge state that stands between where you came from and where you are going. As a result, traversing its 425 mile width becomes a monotonous obstacle to overcome. At 75 mph on I-70, one wheat field looks like the last one and silos and grain elevators become the high points of the trip. Thoughts of Kansas also conjure up images of cyclones and flying houses.
However, when you are on a bicycle and back roads, all of that changes. For one thing, your destination for the day is only 60 to 100 miles east of where you began. Kansas is no longer an endurance event but rather a gently changing landscape. At 17 mph, you get to see more of the countryside longer and you are on back country roads rather than busy and boring interstate highways. The subtle changes of the landscape are much more apparent as the brown prairie has changed to green fields and many hardwood trees are now seen.
You get the opportunity to stop in local cafes and meet the residents. They are warm, friendly folk who have, more than once, have wished us a safe journey. And they mean it! It is a state filled with small town folk and small town family values.
From Dennis Hart’s Coast to Coast tour:
This trip had been fantastic so far and today was one of the best days of riding. I was doing a little bit of top-of-the-lungs yelling in the middle of nowhere today. A “Hell Yeah” day as I call it. I think Kansas is quite beautiful so far. Far from the flat nothingness I always hear about.
From Mary Paquet and Bob Eltgroth’s San Jose, CA, to Portland, ME tour:
People are very nice here in Kansas. In fact, mid-way into our ride a construction truck had to wait behind us on the narrow road for oncoming traffic before they could pass. Being the PR person, I waved a friendly thank you. There were two men in the cab and the passenger grinned and waved, grabbed his cell phone, and took our picture. Bob noted that the last surly driver we encountered was in Carson City, Nevada, and he was driving a truck with California plates.
The terrain in Northwest Kansas is really pretty — more to entertain the eye and the mind along the way than on the wide open plains we first encountered. The land is rolling hills, more greenery, more trees, and the ranches are closer together.
While planning his tour, Sam Pepple had considered a northerly route through the heartland, but ultimately decided to ride through Kansas. His reasoning:
(A central route) was much more desirable, specifically for the beauty, underrated geologic diversity, and subtle dynamicism of Kansas. Anytime we would mention that we were going to travel through Kansas, almost every person would automatically respond, “Kansas, that’s a long and boring state….and extremely flat.” I would always respond, “Have you ever traveled through Kansas, or have you only seen the Wizard of Oz?” I spent a lot of time reassuring Luke and Nick that all of those people were full of shit; Kansas is not flat, it is beautiful.
On her Cycling Travels Across the USA blog, Elise writes:
Initially, I’d had a bit of trepidation towards leaving the scenic vistas of Nevada’s mountains, Utah’s cliffs and canyons and Colorado’s 14er summits. I felt pretty sure I’d get bored with the flat-lands in Kansas. Wow, was I wrong! There’s been so much to see – like wildlife – we had an antelope chasing us a few days ago, there was the cutest baby fox which crossed our path, and did you know that there are zebra here too? Well, not naturally of course, they belonged to a nature conservatory.
The shaded colors of grain are breathtaking as well – deep amber, light amaranth, turmeric tans and khaki browns paint the landscape. Then, we’ve met a slew of cyclists pedaling east to west in Kansas, too! Most are riding in two’s or three’s; the largest group was an eclectic mix of six: two from the Netherlands teamed up with a couple in their sixties from Virginia, along with a 19 yr. old cycling to college in Boulder, Colorado, and a 20-something yr. old guy raising money for leukemia.
On his Summer Bike Tour, Kyle Sherman says:
Kansas was an awesome state with fairly easy riding conditions. There were plenty of trucks and “oversized vehicles” yet they gave me plenty of passing room. The people in Kansas were extra friendly and welcoming. I camped in city parks for a week, and met many bikers going in both directions.
Glad to hear you all enjoyed your rides through Kansas!