Start: Garden City, KS
Finish: Dodge City, KS
Weather: 95 degrees, sunny
Bike Time: 6 hours
Distance to date: 647
I slept in, left late, figured 50 miles to Dodge City would be a breeze. It turned out to be the most difficult cycling of my trip, except maybe for Vail Pass. I cruised along the top of the world out of Garden City, an ant scampering on the picnic table of life, flat and broad with food popping up all around me. The plain hollowed out in a dip and I got sucker punched in the stomach with a headwind that would not quit, and road construction as well. Twenty miles of grinding pedaling, dancing over the pebbles strewn across the shoulder or shaking like a jack hammer over the scarified pavement.
All ended with sweetness and delight when I hit Cimarron, KS at noon and discovered Clark’s Drug Store, with full soda fountain and cheerful blonde waitresses who insisted on filling my water bottles with ice water. I had strawberry, the ‘it’ flavor among the toddler set according to my niece Isabel and nephew Owen.
The last eighteen miles to Dodge had no construction, but the brutal wind kept at me. I arrived at my motel near three, but after a dip in the pool, I felt terrific again.
I rolled back into town for sightseeing. Dodge City is a small time tourist trap, but great fun. The gun fight reenactment at the Boot Hill Museum is both corny and cool, the extensive exhibits are fun, the character actors really get into their parts.
The rest of Dodge is a dusty Ag town, except for a superb train station turned theater, circa 1890‘s and a gem of a Carnegie Library, now the Dodge City Arts Council Gallery. I happened
upon a reception with a great show of local artists and live piano performance of a few flawless rags.
So much of the history emphasizes the harsh brutality of the plains, how the endless stretches of land and ceaseless wind drove settlers insane. The wind is not an obvious threat, like a storm or cold or flood, yet it threatens by being so insidious. I realized my five hours of pedaling against the behemoth was but a taste of prairie life.
Ice Cream Soda at Clark Drug in Cimarron, KS