In the ‘prairie chicken capital of the world’

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 15, 2013

Editor’s note: David Freeze is biking coast to coast. His trek started June 10 in Oregon. He’s sending dispatches from the road to be published in the newspaper, at, and on his blog, “Gotta Run” at

After spending the night in the wonderful hostel at Zion Lutheran Church in Hutchinson, I was up at 4:15 AM and ready to get some miles done early. While I was getting ready, I thought I noticed a flash of light in a basement window. I walked to the door and looked out, and realized that it was pouring, wind blowing and a lot of lightning. Everything was ready, so I just laid back down on the bed and dozed through the next hour’s weather reports.

The weather lessened by 6, so out the door I went. Some of the streets were flooded, but there was almost no traffic. I put my little rear flasher on, and headed on down the street. I came the closest yet to getting hit by a tractor-trailer as we were going through a massive road work area. It was still raining, though not heavily.

I had a 30 mile ride to Newton on good roads and good shoulders. I was not doing as well as I had hoped, until two things happened. I got a big brownie, and for some reason the wind stopped blowing while it was raining. Through 40 miles, I was now making good time and rolling along well. About 10 miles later, the rain stopped, the sun came out, and the headwind returned. Most of the last 20 miles were into that wind, and I realized, too, that Kansas is no longer flat. In all, I rode 77 miles today.

I am spending the night in a very small motel in Cassoday, Kan., right next to the railroad track, and it seems like a train comes by very 15 minutes. That is OK, they won’t bother me much. Who knew that Cassoday is the prairie chicken capital of the world?

I promised some numbers on the ride so far. Through today, I have 2,542 miles complete. That leaves about 1,600 to go, or roughly 38 percent of the ride.

It looks like three more days in Kansas, then I head into Missouri. My plan all along was to follow the Trans America Bicycle Trail till I get to Damascus, Va., then figure a reasonable and safe way to come back to Rowan County. To complete the coast to coast trip, I will then go to the beach and dip the front tire in the Atlantic Ocean. I imagine that ceremony could be fairly emotional.

A few thoughts on today’s ride include the sameness of the scenery. I stopped at Subway for a quick breakfast this morning. Two locals helped me with directions, then one of them said, “There is not much to see out there but a bunch of fields.” They were absolutely right.

A small leftover from yesterday is that I took some time and rode around Hutchinson for a while. They have the second largest museum of space artifacts in the world and lots of nice people. The streets are beautiful and well-kept. Lots of people were out in their yards, even with temperatures still near 100 degrees.

Out early again tomorrow, hoping to beat the wind. The temperature was only in the 80s today, first time since I entered Kansas.

Here comes another train. I’m going to check it out.

David Freeze lives in Rowan County.

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