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Brian Cray - Hitchhikin', Trainhoppin', and Wanderin'

Wanderin' the world, at will, by any means

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Archives for September 2013



We woke up in Dighton Park.  That night I just slept in my sleeping bag with a few layers on since it dropped into the 40s.  The pavilion covered us so I did not need my bivy sack.  We prepped our gear and looked around for a restaurant, but these towns lack them due to the small population.  So we settled for Kwik Stop.  I bought the usual NOS, trail mix, a sandwich and bread.  We hung out there until the temperature rose into the high 50s and planned our route for the day with our destination being Tribune.

We hit the road around 10 AM and busted out 23 miles with relative ease.  The cross winds died down today and only hit speeds of 6 to 10 mph.  When we arrived in Scott City we found a bar and grille restaurant attached to a motel.  We hit the jackpot, a buffet.  The greasy, deep-fried food made for an unhealthy meal, but we needed carbs and fat for energy so it worked out.  I demolished their buffet grabbing three platters of creamy mashed potatoes, chicken nuggets, pigs-in-a-blanket and fried chicken.  I packed some leftovers in a ziplock bag for dinner and snagged a few rolls on the way out.  Josh spent the next hour rotating his tires and fixing his bike for the 50 mile trek to Tribune.  That’s when my eyes set on the book kiosk on the sidewalk.  “Take a book, leave a book!” My eyes lit up.  I left, “The Birth of Tragedy” and grabbed three books for the trip.  That free kiosk made my day.


We hit the road rather late a little past 3 PM and we hauled ass towards Leoti.  I turned around ten miles outside of town to see two cyclists trailing me from London, Simon and James.  They started in Boston on August 22nd and were on their way to San Francisco via the Western Express.  Their time restraint restricted the amount of rest days they could take since their flight scheduled to leave on November 7th.


We talked a bit and I drifted behind them avoid most of the crosswind.  James did a few other tours aside from his cross-country trip across America.  Touring in the UK became big over the last decade or so so everyone knew of the TransAmerica Trail.  Like myself, Simon was on his first tour.  Everyone loved it, but the shocked expressions on their faces showed when I mentioned I stealth camped for almost a month, sleeping in just one motel and a couple cyclist only lodging.  Most of them barely camped wild or camped at all for that matter. I feel it changes the trip and makes it more adventurous.  We parted ways st Leoti and exchanged information.

The trek to Tribune, fast paced, and minimal winds, landed us in the city limits right as the sun set.  I nabbed some beautiful photography and ended up camping in my sleeping bag on a baseball field illuminated by the hundreds of stars sparkling above me.  Josh grabbed a motel to watch the football games.

Trek to Tribune – Fellow Cyclists

I am finally starting to feel like a supertramp.


Dighton Kansas

I woke up from a great nights rest. I thanked Elaine and Dam for letting us stay at their place and have dinner with them.  I signed their guest book and prepped my bike for a big day.  I replaced my tire in a few minutes and looked back to find Josh freaking out.  His back tire popped, but his nervous gestures stemmed from his extremely bald back tire.  We swapped the back with the front doing a tire rotation and put in a new tube, but nothing looked right.  Our early start ended up being a very late one.  We did not leave for Ness City until after 10 AM.

Feed Silo - Kansas

Feed Silo – Kansas

The twelve mile bike did not phase us though despite the extreme winds.  We arrived in Ness City where I bought Sardines, a redbull and some Doritos at Route 66. I bumped into an older gentleman named Lee who gave me a gold dollar, which I lost layer in the day.  He kept saying how he loved cyclists and mentioned Josh rode off to Bumper 2 Bumper for some extra tubes, but he’d be back.

Feed Silo - Kansas

More pics from the feed silo outside Ness City!

I waited for a half hour and decided to head over when he didn’t return.  To my surprise, the owner, Charlie, did not have spare tubes and told Josh he would not make it to the next bike shop on his tire.  The threads showed and you could almost see the tube.  The nearest shop was sixty miles away.  I needed tubes as well, but not a tire.  Charlie offered to hitch him a ride and I decided to go on hope and head to Dighton, Kansas.

Feed Silo - Kansas

Nothing but nothing for miles…

Ten miles in I saw a feed silo I yearned to climb, but I witnessed a vehicle and workers on site.  I decided to stop anyway and asked if I could eat food in the shade.  Tommy told me I could chill in the office and help myself to sodas and candy.  I hung out there for a little and him and Serg offered me a few beers.  We drank a bit and before I knew it I got an invitation to see Western Kansas from the top of the wheat, corn and Milo feed silos.  I asked Tommy what there was to do in the area.

Ness City Bank

An old bank in Ness City, Kansas

“Drink beer and fuck bitches…other than that work your ass off.” I laughed.  Sounds like the same thing back home.  We walked over to the silo and he gave me a tour of the whole area.  He opened the metal doors and we walked through the crawlspace like area until we reached the tiny elevator.  He pushed open the door and we both crammed in there. This took us up 160 feet to the top of the silos where he showed me all the valves that distribute the different feed.  We walked out to the roof and looked over the railing.  Nothing but fields of green grass, bright red Milo, brown dirt and railroad tracks for miles.  It seemed endless, but for the first time that day, despite the wind, the flat tire, frustration, my mind at peace and the scenery just spectacular.  I took a load of videos and pictures.  I gave Serg my instagram information and took a picture of the crew before heading to Dighton.

I am here now waiting to hear back from Josh of his whereabouts and scoping out my next climbing obstacle: The Dighton Water Tower.

Feed Silo Workers

Some feed silo workers who hooked me up with some beers.



I woke up at the city park in Larned, Kansas to a chilly breeze and people walking around all over the place. I did not sleep well at all and woke up several times during the night to people rustling around the bushes and just being plain unusual.  I spoke with Josh later that morning via email and he mentioned he spoke with law enforcement the previous night about sleeping in that park.  Apparently it was not a great idea.  Problems occurred there recently and he suggested Josh go to a motel.

I left around 8:30 AM for Bazine.  The wind blew in my face most of the day again, but at least the smoothly paved road on Route 183 made the trek a bit easier.  I coasted down the highway and for once the wind ceased.  I hit speeds of over 20 mph and neared the bottom of the hill where Route 96 picked up the trail.  A gust of wind pushed me towards the shoulder and I jerked my handle bars back to stabilize my position, but I didn’t see the terrain ahead.  My front tire slid out from under me.  The bike skid against the sand and gravel on the road dragging me with it.  I braced my fall with my eight hand which scuffed against the ground along with my left knee.  Blood squirted out of my kneecap and dripped down my hand.  I popped up in the matter of seconds, stunned as to what just happened.  A driver yelled out his window, “Hey, kid ya alright.” I nodded and gave him a thumbs up sign.  I moved my bike to the side of the road and grabbed my pannier, which slid down the road towards the telephone pole.  Everything appeared to be working still, which amazed me. I fell going pretty fast and thought for sure my bike met it’s last day.

Bicycle Touring Bazine

Fell on loose gravel and almost got hit by a car. I’m good though.

I hopped back on my ride and continued down Route 96. I took a rest at Alexander for an hour or two and replenished my liquids and charged my phone.  Josh was still a few hours away.  I continued on to Bazine where I set up camp at the local campground.  The sky turned gray with huge clouds engulfing the city while the wind picked up its intensity.  They called for potential hailing and rain.  I met up with Josh who advised me to stay at the Cyclists only lodging right down the road.  Of course, I pedaled three feet and ran over a thorn.  I put off the flat for tomorrow.

I paid ten dollars to stay there and got a shower, did my laundry, and stuffed my face full of delicious food.  I devoured four platters of steamed brown rice, with creamy mushrooms and tender chicken, feasted on cucumber salad, crunchy bread, steamed spinach and finished the night off with a sweet vegetarian jello desert consisting of pineapple and carrots.  I winced in pain and held my stomach.  I gorged way too much, but that put me into a peaceful slumber.


Larned, Kansas

I turned over on the couch grabbing my head. I regretted pounding down those six shocktops from the previous night.  I grabbed some water and breakfast, which consisted of eggs and a fruit smoothie.  Just the energy I needed for our big day.

Newton Bike Shop

Newton Bike Shop in Newton, Kansas

We left for Newton Bike Shop and arrived around 8:30 AM.  James gave us directions to Nickerson by taking 50 West to 96 West.  We prepped all our gear and Josh and I headed out within the hour.

Not even three miles into the day and my back tire rubbed against the asphalt making me lose control of my bicycle.  I ran straight over a screw, which left a huge gouge in my tire.  The patch didn’t hold so I threw on a new tube.  A woman stopped to help, but everything was under control.

Newton Kansas

Powerade before a long trek through the middle of nowhere!

We continued on to Hutchinson and I lost Josh, but we randomly met up at the McDonald’s down the road. I bought three McDoubles, a redbull and refilled my water.  We made it to Nickerson in a little under an hour.  I filled out a letter for jury duty to be excused from my summons on the 17th of October.  Then we hit up the Kwik Stop and loaded up on gatorades for the next 60 mile trek through a wildlife refuge with no services.

Despite being a wildlife refuge we did not see much of anything.  Just a series of really flat landscape intertwined with the ocassional tree.  Today took a lot of mental focus and endurance.  Since we left so late we ended up biking into the night past the sunset.  I lost Josh towards the end because I could not keep up with his cleets and clip-ins.  I biked into the dark, chilly night, purely exhausted and frustrated.  I kept going on pure determination.  The sky twinkled with hundreds of stars all hovering above me in the pure darkness.  After a few more miles I finally made it to a city park in Larned.  A goal accomplished that day and milestone for the trip: 107 miles.

Larned Kansas

Sunset right outside of Larned Kansas!

I passed out quickly, my legs aching and head throbbing, but spirit still just as strong as when I left the first day.


Newton, Kansas

I woke up today under Highway 54.  The condensation between my sleeping bag and bivy sack sent chills down my spine. I packed my gear and headed down the road around 7 AM.

I headed to Rosalia relatively quickly covering 30 miles in a few hours since the wind died down from yesterday.

Right before heading to Newton I stopped at Prairie Crafts and dropped off my book, “Kite Runner.” I charged some of my electronics and headed down the road to the Old Country Store where I grabbed a red bull and indulged in their lunch buffet. The lunch buffet consisted of insane quantities of all-you-can-eat pizza. I ate two pizza pies of supreme and jalapeno and took a slice for the road. I asked the locals if anything in the area was worth seeing. They mentioned Teeter Rock, but no one could give me directions so I continued on to Newton.

The ride to Newton stretched 38 miles with no services. I grabbed water at a local church before heading out for the long trek. The scenery variable throughout the whole ride. Fields of green interlaced with red and brown blades of grass. The ocassional tree popping up ever so often with a lake mixed in the landscapes. Kansas beautiful in its own way. I reached Newton and used Google Maps to find Newton Bike Shop. Ryan and Jason recommended it to me a few days ago.

Nothing but nothing for miles other than electricity poles

Nothing but nothing for miles other than electricity poles

When I arrived at the shop they treated me like a member of their family. I charged my electronics, drank coffee, used the restroom, packed up some gear to head to their home where we ate dinner and washed our clothes. I also took a hot, toasty shower, the first one in weeks.

We talked to James, the owner, who used to work with record labels as a producer. He helped out bands such as, Limp Bizkit, Cold, Tool, Two Chainz, etc. The guy loved cycling and helped us out in anyway. He received royalties from these bands for his services. He cycled all over the United States hoboing from place to place, working on farms and in stables catching mustangs and other wild horses.

I ended the night pounding down some beers and met Josh whom is also going westbound. Our plan is to hit a hundred miles tomorrow. Wish us luck!

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