Today marks the halfway point in our journey. We have now cycled over 2, 100 miles. Only another half to go! We woke up to sound of rain tapping our tent, so made it a good excuse to stay in our cocoon a while before getting up. Eventually though we couldn't put the 80 miles we have planned any longer. The landscape is getting flatter as we go and by today it was well and truly flat as a pancake. The small towns dotted along the road are spaced far apart and some are only a few houses, maybe a post office. If we come across somewhere with a shop it's worth talking about. Luckily today we had very little wind so could ping through fairly quickly, although I've noticed that when going on the flat it can actually be harder work than the up and downs of hills, because there is no opportunity to rest on a downhill.
We stopped in Eads after 23 miles because it had a grocery store and we knew we didn't have another town with a shop for another 58 miles. We are now carrying quite a little supply of food with us, but this region is so rural it feels good to have everything we need with us. We continued on, the weather was good, cloudy but warm and no need for rain jackets at all today.
When we got to the next town Sheridan Lake, we were expecting only a few houses, but to our surprise there was a store with a friendly sign in the window letting cyclists know that the owner is happy to fill up water bottles. We took him up on that offer, and also met another couple of cyclists there too – Kyle and Chris from NY and Maryland. Whilst chatting to them, an old farmer drove up in his truck, and told us there was a storm coming over from Pueblo. His face was tanned and very lined, yet he had the sparkliest set of veneers I've ever seen! After his weather warning, he laughed and drove off. We couldn't see any storm clouds though but got back on our bikes and headed on, just in case he was right.
Not long after we waved goodbye to Colorado and said hello Kansas – our sixth state. We've heard so many things about Kansas, how it's so flat, so long, not much there etc, it was great to actually get here. Most cyclists we've met who've travelled through say they love it for it's free camping in the town parks, free public swimming pools, and the friendliness of the Kansans – even the truck drivers! One things for sure it is definitely flat!
Apparently though it's only the 24th flattest state in the US, but from where I'm standing it looks like number 1. But while that might sound uninteresting I think it has it's only beauty. So far it seems very peaceful (apart from the constant hum of the crickets all through the day) and almost surreal. The road cuts through fields of wheat and corn and the horizon line is constantly the same, but occasionally a grain elevator will rise out of the ground in the distance and we've worked out that we can see these from over 12 miles away. Kansas truly is the country's bread basket so whilst it seems like there's not many people around, it is actually quite inspiring to think that those few people are working hard to feed their countrymen.
Still no storm and we cycle 16 more miles to our destination town of Tribune. With over 700 people living here, it feels like a metropolis. We cycle down the main street looking for the park and are approached by Sterling, a young blonde boy who I'm guessing is 10, on his bike. He guesses we are looking for the park and offers to show us where it is. On the way (whilst he's weaving all over the road and terrifying me in the process – although there is hardly any traffic) he tells me he knows that Big Ben is the name of the bell and not the clocktower and also that we have double decker buses. I sense that when he'd older Sterling may crave the lights of somewhere brigher than Tribune. We find the park and before he leaves tells us there's a county fair on opposite this evening.
The swimming pool is opposite the park so we take a swim before it closes. It's wonderful to stretch our limbs in the cool water. After a pasta dinner we head to the fair which has rides and also a pig show. No need to guess in which direction we head – if there's pigs involved, Matt's there. Some tough looking piggys parade around a pen being herded by their owners, some of whom looked about twelve. A judge gave some very honest commentary about whether the pigs were too fat, too lean, too muscly, too rigid. It seemed all them had something he didn't like. Nevertheless rosettes went round to first, second and third.
Ps - some kittens Matt found looking kittenish