Monday I took a nice rural drive on the small highways to Lake Scott State Park in Kansas 5 hours east of Denver. Purpose of my 3-day KS sojourn is to get in an 8-hour dirt road bicycle ride. I’ve never been in the saddle that long.
Woke up Tuesday morning and was a little nervous about the ride. But I figured it’d be easiest to not map out a route and just ride in a random direction through rural western Kansas for an hour or two, turn, go for another couple hours, and keep just enough eye on the map to get me back to the van after about 8 hours.
The ride went as well as I could have hoped. I started by asking the local park ranger if there were any scenic dirt roads around and she mentioned a couple options that were 3-5 miles away. From there I just followed my nose through some wonderfully flat and stereotypical Kansas vistas...
to some canyons and rock formations that completely defy the stereotype, including this natural arch.
The most challenging part was a stretch of 25 miles where I was riding south straight into the teeth of a consistent 30+ mph wind. It took me close to 4 hours to cover that distance as I was only able to average 6-7mph. But this is where I knew it was important just to get the time in the saddle and so I didn’t worry about the speed too much. After all, when I’m riding the 100-mile event in southern MN in a month it could be super windy there, too. At least I was smart enough to plan the wind at my back for the last 15 miles which felt great.