Today was all about wind. Most days in Kansas seem to be about wind but today in particular. I woke up around 6:30 to the sound of wind howling outside the hotel room window, not a good sign. I got packed up then headed out to the lobby for a continental breakfast. It wasn’t great but they had cereal and toast so not all bad. I talked to a guy that was planning a motorcycle ride on the TransAmerica motorcycle ride, a mostly dirt ride across the US. I told him I hated that ride because it always comes up first for searches for transam.
I got underway around 7:40 and it wasn’t all that windy. There was some roadwork about a mile in and some very friendly construction workers who cheered me on. This was a very long straight stretch that the map warned me was 72 miles of limited services. That was definitely true, there wasn’t much at all for this first part of riding. The road was good and traffic light so I made good progress up through the rolling hills of this stretch.
It was about 40 miles to the town of Cassoday which had the only convenience store for 30 miles around. Along the way I ran into a super friendly dog who let me pet him. He had a collar so I assume he wasn’t a stray, but he looked somewhat mangy and had a growth on his leg. He was very sweet and I felt bad leaving him. He wandered down the road the way I’d come, somewhat dejectedly.
The hills continued rolling for many miles. Someone in a red minivan honked and waved me on, I waved back. The wind was from the South, as usual, so it wasn’t bothering me, yet. I rode over an interstate and pulled into Cassoday around 10:30.
I took a wrong turn, but found a historical marker about the scenic byway that runs through town. Most of the storefronts were shuttered and for sale, it was sad in such a pretty town. I found my way to what I thought was a convenience store and a quick stop, but it turned out to be a restaurant and a long stop. I had a chicken melt that was very good with fried ocre which is fried so was of course good. As I was sitting there another rider pulled up. He was ambushed by a rancher talking about Kansas and grass, he’d later tell me. The rider came in to refill bottles. He said his name was Travis, from Texas. He is going Eastbound too! His plan was to make it to Toronto that day, whereas I was planning a chill day, stopping in Eureka, or even right here in Cassoday. He said he’d wait to leave so we could ride together a bit. As he waited the same guy who ambushed him about the grass told me not to let other Californians know about Kansas. We said goodbye to him then headed out. We chatted about the ride and mutual acquaintances we’d met. As we talked we turned South and we’re buffeted by a wall of wind. It must have been between 25 and 40 mph and it slowed us right down. We rode side by side for a while then switched to riding one behind the other, meaning one person took the brunt of the wind for a while, then we’d switch. It was MUCH easier than riding this solo. It took us probably an hour 45 minutes to go 15 or so miles. It was demoralizing and difficult, but much more bearable with someone else there suffering alongside me. We finally finished at a treeline and the town of Rosalia. There was nothing there but we did get to refill our bottles and cool off in the shade of a closed USPS building.
We turned left onto Highway 54 towards Eureka and entered what is best described as the great plains. It was just wide open seas of grass as far as you could see. I tried to take a picture but traffic was heavy when I did, and I got too lazy otherwise, sorry. There was a good shoulder through here but as mentioned decently heavy traffic. The winds were still strong which meant they were trying to push me I to traffic. This gets sketchy when you come around a corner and get buffeted by strong winds. We made our way slowly down the road, then came to the biggest descent yet in Kansas, probably 3-400 feet. It felt like a treat.
It was starting to heat up and I was feeling tired but good. After 20 miles and an hour and a half we rolled into Eureka and stopped at a gas station. Travis wanted to go 20 miles to Toronto, and I was planning to stop. As we sat a large cloud rolled over the sun which convinced me that it would be a cooler ride there. He also said he’d talked to a ranger who said there’s be bbq and music there, so I joined him. We refilled and got snacks then headed out. The main road in town was under construction so cars couldn’t pass. We did our best to let them by but didn’t always succeed. A diesel pickup tried to roll coal on Travis but the wind was so strong it blew back on the truck 🤣
The 20 miles to Toronto were hot and slow with rolling hills. The wind was serious from the side. I think we were both feeling tired as we set off, and that just increased as we rode. I was counting miles on my map until we made it. Travis was also suffering and we took frequent breaks to rest and cool off. We did see some interesting road art in the town of Neal.
As we got close we pulled into a rest area. It was air conditioned with cold water. It was sooo refreshing. As we started to ride out a red car with four bikes on a rack pulled in. It was four women who had just come from a nice ride. They had cold cokes and waters and gave us one each. They also offered snacks but we said no thank you. That Coke was so good and cold, one of the better drinks I’ve had in a while. Feeling reinvigorated we rode a bit to a section of massive shoulder over a river then made one climb and came to the turn off for Toronto. There was a gas station, the Lizard Lips Cafe, and we went in. The owners were crazy friendly and offered us plastic lizards and asked us to sign the guest book. I got some chips for salt and Travis a beer.
We flew the last two miles to Toronto just to get the ride done with. We rolled through town slowly to look at what was there (pictured is Travis).
We then headed to a campground where the bbq and music would be. After one final steep hill we got there and we’re officially done.
We headed over to get some food and got barbeque ribs and a bunch of sides. I got fruity drinks and ice cream and it was amazing. There was live country music playing. We talked to a friend father and son who warned us about bugs that can bite you and cause heart disease.
We headed over to our tent site and got set up then went swimming in the lake as the sun went down. It was gorgeous and a perfect end to the day. One of the only state parks in Kansas I’ve seen has been awesome so far.
We came back to the site and showered then got ready for bed. I’m sitting writing this with fireflies around the tent as the band is wrapping up playing. I’m about to turn in (though it’s still hot!). Night!
Distance: 90ish (almost 100 I think)
- Chicken melt
- Ice cream
- Fried mushrooms
- Fried cornballs
- Mozzarella sticks
- Hostess snack
- Cole slaw
- Cheesy potatoes
- Sugar drink
- Ice cream