Oh, another lovely day in Kansas.
Josh, Seth, and I were woken up by George loudly announcing his departure at 6:30. We packed up and headed to Sonic for breakfast, and then stopped by the Dollar General on the way out of town for snacks and sunscreen. We followed US 54 for 20 miles and stopped at a gas station for a break at the junction where our route headed south. Another couple cycling the TransAmerica (who have also hiked the AT, we discovered) were also there and were taking an alternate route to take advantage of the southwesterly wind by continuing east and then turning south after 13 more miles. Knowing how the wind likes to change direction, we opted to do the same.
We made another snack stop at a convenience store before turning south into the wind (unfortunately it had not changed direction) for 18 miles. It was another hot, humid, and sunny day and the Flint Hills are pretty, but riding into the wind is exhausting! We met up with Claudia, a cyclist from Italy who we met in Newton, who had taken a wrong turn and couldn't find her way. She rode with us to the next intersection and we were surprised to find a small gas station on the corner! The air conditioning inside was glorious and we drank Powerades and sat on padded chairs...such a treat!
Our next turn hooked back up with the mapped route, and not a quarter mile down the road, I asked Seth if he was sure we were on the right route. I was riding on his back left side and as he turned to look back at the road sign, he swerved right in front of me. His left pannier caught my front tire, pulling it perpendicular to the bike, and down I went. I landed on my left knee but for the most part I was unharmed, and the bike was fine aside from torn handlebar tape. I had a small cut on my knee and I am sure I will be sore tomorrow! Claudia was behind us and the first thing Seth said was, "How do you say 'I'm very sorry' in Italian?" :)
We continued 11 more miles and stopped at Walmart/Subway, where George was waiting for us. Sandwiches, chips, cookies, soda, and ice water truly hit the spot. We left Walmart with about 18 miles to go. Half a mile down the road, I saw Seth ride off the road, which is not an unusual occurrence, but there was a lip where the pavement ended, and his tire caught the road edge and he fell right over into the road. Thankfully there were no cars behind us! His arm and shoulder were scraped up so we stopped to bandage them...he is going to be sore tomorrow too!
On top of everything, as we were riding the last 10 miles, Josh's bike started making a strange hissing sound...he pulled over and we realized it had been air gushing out of his rear tire. Another flat! He and Seth patched the tube, only to find once it was back on the rim that the patch job didn't work...so, they took the tire off again and changed out the tube. Kansas has been hard on us...between the four of us, we've had 3 falls, 6 flats, 3 broken spokes, and a broken pedal!
We finally made it to Erie at 8:30 and met George in the city park. The town is having their annual festival, and one of the ladies at a 4-H booth gave us waters and told us to come back later for food. We were setting up camp when a teenager came carrying a box of food! They sent us pulled pork sandwiches, chips, and bottles of water! Unbelievable. It was so delicious and so unexpected!
So, all in all, I can't say today was a bad day. It was definitely a tough day, but something good always happens on a hard day!
In other news, tomorrow we leave Kansas and cross into Missouri!