Day 39 – Pittsburg to Fredonia KS

Today was a tough one and I paid a heavy price for not getting on the road earlier. I camped out in the Pittsburg City campground which had warm showers (actually hot and no way to make them cooler) but it was a muggy night and so humid the dew fell even before I went to bed last night. So that made it hard to hit the road because everything was wet, and it was overcast so it was hard to dry out. That put me on the road about 8:45 so I missed almost 2 hours of prime riding time.

One small part of the delay was a  morning visit from Pittsburg’s finest. The informed me that it was an RV only campground and that they don’t allow tent camping unless you checked with the city. I pointed out that there was no way for me to know that and that I actually called the City office before I arrived but got no answer. They mentioned that people with “nowhere else to go” had been camping there and not paying the fee. I let them know that I put my $20 in the envelope as directed by the only sign (nothing at all about no tents). Harrumph. Anyway they told me next time no tent camping. Now I understand that if I hadn’t paid, then OK, kick me out. But why is it that if I travel in a big gas hog of an RV (and presumably spent a lot of money on it) I can camp there, but us tent folk, low carbon footprint that we have, cannot. I feel the constitution being stepped on again. You know what, I’m going to finally read that damn thing so I can be sure.

So I hit the road, with the blessing of the Pittsburg cops, on to set up my gypsy camp somewhere else. The morning was fine and the Kansas miles have been pretty easy ones. I am still in the “hilly” part of Kansas, but there wasn’t a hill today I couldn’t get up in my big chainring (big cog in the front for you non-cyclists). But the lack of terrain presents its own difficulties. On a flat stretch, you become aware of having to decide exactly how hard to push yourself, how fast to try to go. You can spin easy and slow, or you can try to push a little faster. But when you do, as you speed up, you’re putting a lot more work into pushing air out of the way – though of course you get there faster.

The lowlands still have a few streams and ponds but most of the water here is pretty slow moving and the streams run muddy.
The Neosho river.

Now I know it’s all about the journey and not the destination, but here it’s hard not to focus on getting to the other end of all this flatness. It’s a work in progress.

Daily wildflower pic
I wonder how this got here? Looks to be an old store/service station. In Walnut, KS.
What used to be a big operation. Grain or feed bins, I think.

The other challenge is that you really have to think about mixing up your riding position. In hills that kind of comes automatically, but on a straight flat road, there’s nothing making you change. But if you don’t, your hands go numb and you develop serious butt rot. I will let that stand without explaination. So I make myself stand periodically, do some onboard stretches for my arms and hands, stretch out my hammies from time to time.

Around noon I was treated to a midwestern thunderstorm that kept the heat down for awhile. I forgot how differently they develop here vs. California. In the Midwest you see the clouds building up, and getting darker for awhile. And then the clouds begin to rumble, quietly at first, then it builds. In about 15 minutes today the sky went from darkening, to rumbling, to dropping these big raindrops, a smattering at first, and then pouring in earnest. I was already dripping wet with sweat so it was welcome. It cooled me, the road and the breezes almost immediately. I was grinning ear to ear.

Good old fashioned Kansas thunderstorm.
Can I find an Impala a day for the rest of the trip?
This one wasn’t running but I saw quite a few today that were. For other energy geeks out there this pump runs on a 1 hp motor. When I was a kid, we used to road trip across Kansas on our way to Colorado and Wyoming. I used to pass the time by counting oil rigs and…
Windmills. Traditionally they were used to pump water but I remember reading once that wind-generated electricity was very common up until the 1930s or so when it was edged out by electrification. I guess these don’t have enough power to pump oil.

The big limiting factor today was the heat. I was really keen to try to get in consecutive > 100 mile days but it wasn’t to be. By 3:00 this afternoon it was up to 95 and about 50% relative humidity, which puts the heat index up over 105. I had a late lunch and my new favorite thing is to get a huge cup of ice to take with me and munch on as I go. So that helped for awhile but by 4:30 I was feeling hard poached. The ACA maps had a store and hostel in Benedict but I didn’t like the looks of the place so I forged on and found a hotel a little off route. AC never felt so good and I’ll be able to get an early start and beat tomorrow’s heat a little better than today.

One thought on “Day 39 – Pittsburg to Fredonia KS”

  1. Your maps are getting boring. A straight line from A to B. Looking forward to Colorado. Then come to Camp Redwood. We have a ‘NO RV’ sign (on both sides).

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