My first day in Kansas and I was sidelined by a thunderstorm and a dust storm that came out of nowhere!
4 weeks. 4 states. 2 time zones. I continue to ride in awe of the landscape that literally changed in an afternoon. From the high altitudes and soaring mountains to the West of Pueblo Colorado to the repetitive and flat Great Plains to the East. While the scenery is now flat and somewhat tedious, I am enthralled with the eerie sensation that at one time herds of buffalo and tribes of Indians roamed these Great Plains.
I was on track to ride 105 miles today. The road was flat, the sun was shining, the temperature was perfect, and the wind was barely dancing in the wheat fields. I was flying down the road! And then without warning, at 70 miles I noticed the sky to the right of me turning dark. But in front of me it was still sunny. So I rode as fast as I could, attempting to outrun the looming storm. I felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz…
All of a sudden, the storm came running over the field right toward me. The wind blew me and the bike off the road, while the rain came pouring down in hail-like drops. Dust was blowing everywhere and lightning was overhead. Justin picked me up and by the time we reached the RV park it was sunny, beautiful, and hot once again. Welcome to Kansas!
Guess who comes to my rescue in the downpour! A crop specialist. That’s so Kansas! Jim Shroyer pulled over as he saw me crouching in the ditch waiting for Justin. I quickly crossed the road to stand next to Jim’s truck which provided some shelter as the rain was coming down sideways. As we were chatting through the window about crazy Kansas weather, I figured it was a great opportunity to interview Jim about his job!
Jim is officially an Extension State Leader and Crop Production Specialist at Kansas State University in the Research Department of Agronomy. (What a perfect person to fill me in on the soil swirling in the wind!) While technically he is in a management role, what he really loves about his job is being out and about with the farmers talking about their soil and crops. And I was sure glad he was out and about today! (Agricultural Note: agronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, feed, fiber and reclamation.)
I saw Tereso across from the RV park selling fruits, vegetables, and tamales in an abandoned parking lot. I immediately headed over to stock our fridge. I asked Tereso what he loves about his job and he smiled broadly and exclaimed, “I love this! I love all of it. The faces, the attitudes, the people, like you!” When I heard that his wife made the tamales, I purchased a bag and enjoyed some for dinner – so delish!
We met Deter and his friends in the RV park after the rain passed. He is on a 6-month contract to do harvesting throughout the Midwest. While he took the job for the money and the opportunity to see America, what he loves about it is the training, the experience, the huge responsibility he has been given to manage expensive equipment, and the trust that his boss has in him and his team to succeed.
Day 30/31 Stats
Day 31 miles: 74.81
Total mileage: 1,904.44
Day 30 ascent: 965 ft
Day 31 ascent: 630 ft
Total interviews: 50
Road kill count: 245
(I added 13 yesterday and 26 today, including 11 snakes (snakes are the new deer!), 2 lizards (new to the list), 2 raccoons, 3 mountain lions, 2 skunks (new to the list) and 2 unidentifiable piles of bones)
Destination for Day 32: Somewhere else in Kansas….