Author Topic: Kansas  (Read 5431 times)

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Offline j1of1

Kansas
« on: November 04, 2022, 08:43:05 pm »
I'm doing another section of the USA in 2023 - this one between Kansas City, MO and Pueblo, CO, probably using all or most of the TRANSAM.   Would you:

1.  Do you recommend going West to East or East to West?  On my sectional ride from Kansas City, MO to Dayton OH (west to east) a couple of months ago I fought headwinds every single day in Illinois and Indiana though I've been led to believe the prevailing winds are west to east -- just as I've been told they are suppose to be in Kansas. 
2.  Besides the TRANSAM does anyone have a suggested alternative route across Kansas?
3.  If you have ridden across Kansas did you do credit card touring or camping or a combo?  What would you suggest today, based upon your experience.
4.  Does starting out early in the morning (5 to 6 am) eliminate any headwinds (for at least early in the morning)?

Standing by for you advice/comments!

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Kansas
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2022, 09:58:09 pm »
For Question #1:  Check out WeatherSpark.com for various locations and see which direction works best for you.  I live in Tulsa and I would say that the wind is primarily from a southerly (with a slight leaning to SE) direction in the summer time.  Obviously, it can switch to any direction but these are the prevailing winds.  I personally would head west as I am an early riser and prefer the sun at my back.

#2.  I have several routes that go from KC to Rush Center, KS (just east of Alexander, KS, where the map change).  Do you want to do crushed granite rail trails or stick to paved roads or a combo?  What is more important: Hotels, campgrounds, traffic (unpaved rail trails vs. roads), etc.?

#3.  I personally have done a combo but it is probably easier to do camping in small town Kansas (city parks) unless you plan pretty well and are willing to go off route some to get to a hotel.

#4.  Yes, generally speaking, the winds are less up to mid-morning or after 7pm. Depending on the month you go, you will also need to factor in the heat and/or after storms which can be quite severe with strong rain, lightning, hail, and/or a tornado (relatively rare). 

Tailwinds, John

Offline John Nelson

Re: Kansas
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2022, 01:05:55 am »
If you’re going in the summer, winds have a higher probability of being favorable going east to west. If going at some other time of year, then it depends.

The TransAm is probably the best route across Kansas. But BRAK does it every year, so you could check out some of their routes.

Camping is easy in town parks across Kansas on the TransAm. Most parks will let you use the swimming pool for swimming or showering for free if you tell them that you’re a TransAm cyclist.

You can start early if you want, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Riding near daybreak is magical, but I hate getting up early.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Kansas
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2022, 07:21:15 am »
Winds do tend to come out of the SE in KS in the summer.  So yeah it generally favors going E-W, but I wouldn't necessarily choose direction of travel based on that.

One other option for a possible route is the Santa Fe Trail via Cimmaron Cut Off.  I rode it back in 2009.  I roughly followed my friend Jerry's route solo after he broke is hip at the start of the tour.  When I got closer to Santa Fe I rode a lot of interstate access road which I found nice since they were often out of earshot and sometimes out of sight of the actual interstate.  I did ride the actual interstate a bit which Jerry would have avoided since he is all about riding and camping out in the boonies.

Any way, the Flint Hills were rolling, lush green, and pretty.  I saw a lot of interesting birds and wildlife and in New Mexico the mountains were beautiful.

I got rooms more often than usual on this trip.

I went in May and that was a nice time of year for that route other than there were quite a few thunderstorms that rolled through.  There were brutal winds for a day or two.

Some details can be gleaned from my journal at https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=3d2&doc_id=5063&v=HV

The year we did the TA we crossed KS (W-E) the end of July beginning of August.  If picking a time to do just that section I might pick a cooler time.  We used camping places and hosts mostly from the ACA maps.  https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=3d2&doc_id=2471&v=vO
« Last Edit: November 05, 2022, 04:40:53 pm by staehpj1 »

Offline jamawani

Re: Kansas
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2022, 10:28:00 am »
Although I have lived most of the past 30 years in Wyoming & Montana -
I did my grad work at K.U. in Lawrence and have done a great deal of cycling in Kansas.

One thing you did not mention was when you are planning on riding.
That's an important consideration for comfort and safety.

I'll use climate data from Great Bend - smack in the middle of Kansas.
Kansas climate changes as you go from east to west.
Western Kansas in the summer is hotter, drier, windier . . . and emptier all year.
Eastern Kansas can be oppressively humid in the summer.

Kansas gets 60% of its precipitation in May, June, July & August. 3.5-4.0 inches per month.
Not to mention that the rain comes in huge storms of the Dorothy variety.
April, May & June are tornado season, but storms in Jul/Aug can be doozies, too.
September is the best month for dry conditions and more moderate temps.

https://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/great-bend/kansas/united-states/usks0232

Because of the almost daily build-up of thunderstorms in summer, it is best to get your riding in early.
You can have a cloudless day at 7 a.m. and be dodging hail by 3 p.m.
Also, hot and humid afternoons in the east and 100F+ in the west make morning riding preferable.

Which suggests an east-to-west direction - not only to have the sun behind you and be more comfortable -
But also because riding early into the sun makes it more difficult for drivers to see you.

Finally, there is the wind. Wind is a reality that touring cyclists have to accept as a given.
You can plan and plan and plan to ride with the wind and still get headwinds.
In Kansas in the summer, the prevailing direction is SSE - (See wind rose)
A little more SE in east Kansas, due South in west Kansas.

https://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/onsite/windrose/KS_ASOS/GBD/GBD_jul.png

No matter where you are on the planet, winds tend to increase in the afternoon.
Caused by warming of the lower atmosphere.
Made worse in Kansas by the lack of trees to break the wind.
So, yet again, it pays to ride early.

<<<>>>

It may be only marginally better to ride east-to-west
Since the wind will be largely a side wind.
But the biggie is to start your days early.
I would suggest up at sunrise and on the road within the hour.
Just a snack and some water.
Then stop in a cafe mid-morning for a big breakfast.

It is a magical time to ride.


Offline jamawani

Re: Kansas
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2022, 04:05:00 pm »
Winds today in Wyoming -
40 mph with gusts to 60 mph.
Makes the walk a little challenging.
No cycling, for sure.

Offline j1of1

Re: Kansas
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2022, 08:00:57 am »
I'm doing another section of the USA in 2023 - this one between Kansas City, MO and Pueblo, CO, probably using all or most of the TRANSAM.   Would you:

1.  Do you recommend going West to East or East to West?  On my sectional ride from Kansas City, MO to Dayton OH (west to east) a couple of months ago I fought headwinds every single day in Illinois and Indiana though I've been led to believe the prevailing winds are west to east -- just as I've been told they are suppose to be in Kansas. 
2.  Besides the TRANSAM does anyone have a suggested alternative route across Kansas?
3.  If you have ridden across Kansas did you do credit card touring or camping or a combo?  What would you suggest today, based upon your experience.
4.  Does starting out early in the morning (5 to 6 am) eliminate any headwinds (for at least early in the morning)?

Standing by for you advice/comments!

All,  Thanks for all the comments, recommendations and tips.   I also read several postings on Crazy Guys on Bikes.  In summary:  Whether going E-->W or W -->E I'm going to encounter wind, and most of the time a cross wind from the S or SE; different climates encountered as you cross the state; there are hills; Camping is very doable and hotels are a viable option in many, but not all towns; people are super friendly and go out of their way to help out; TRANSAM route is highly recommended; keep an eye on the weather - subject to wide swings as day progresses; start early, if possible; cell coverage is spotty.  I didn't see any trends in regards to flats though I've been told by WarmShower guests that I hosted that goatheads were a problem in KS.   Someone asked when I intend to do this ride....current plans call for a mid-May start, but I am considering joining doing the 2023 Bicycle Across Kansas (which always goes W --> E) as a means of minimizing the boredom of Kansas.  Thanks again for all the comments, recommendations and tips!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Kansas
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2022, 09:02:28 am »
In May the Flint Hills are nice.  Prairie grasses and wild flowers.  Lots of interesting birds.  Actual hills. I highly recommend you look into them a bit brfore eliminating them as an option.

The Trans America is a great route and well established so the trail is well blazed.  You will find plenty of free camping and hospitality well known and easy to find.

Big rides like Bicycle Across Kansas are pretty far removed from "normal" touring.  I am not saying you should or shouldn't do it, but if woll have just about nothing in common with most bike tours.  I personally don't even think of it as bike touring.  That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is probably more of a rolling party than the typical bike tour.


Offline John Nettles

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  • Posts: 1895
  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: Kansas
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2022, 05:09:41 pm »
Ahh, goatheads. One of the bains of the cyclist.  They really are too difficult to deal with if you know what to look for and are careful when leaving the pavement, especially out in the countryside.

Here is a good article on the little devils complete with pictures:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribulus_terrestris

In our part of the country, the plant is typically flat and close to the ground (about 1"-1.5" high).  The plant can be anywhere from palmsize to a patch that is 3'x5' but is typically about the size of a large dinner plate. The shape can range from circular to oval to a "string".  the burrs are typically range in size from your pinky nail to your middle finger nail in diameter.

The big thing to remember is to always check your tires BEFORE riding if they have been off pavement.  Just do one revolution of each wheel.  Pull any out.  If you do this before you ride, they "usually" do not puncture the tube as you do need a bit of weight to push the thorns through the tire and into the tube.  Caution: they can be quite sharp so do not just grab them or you may get a small bleed on your finger.

Offline ray b

Re: Kansas
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2022, 09:59:35 pm »
All interesting. One might also mention the 6000 foot climb east to west (or the 6000 foot descent west to east).

In the end, I agree with all - unless there's a front coming in, a lot of wind (and heat) can be avoided by watching the sun rise from the saddles every morning..., in which case, I agree with all above that starting the day with the sun at one's back is a pretty pleasant way to start the day.

Of course, if you are riding in cooler weather, and agree with Bill Murray in his impersonation of a bass player - "It's not natural to wake up before the sun is warm." - well, enjoy the (minimally) downhill ride with the afternoon sun (and occasionally the wind) at your back.

“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline jamawani

Re: Kansas
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2022, 11:31:10 pm »
a) Most of the western half of the 2022 Bike Across Kansas was on US 50.
The highway has good shoulders but is very busy with lots of truck traffic.
Fairly safe - given the number/visibiity of riders - but not quiet roads.
2023 route not out yet. Use caution.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39637128


b) Mid-May is the peak of storm season.
Please watch the first portion of "The Wizard of Oz" (The black & white part)
if you need to refresh your memory about how Dorothy handled bad weather.
But, seriously, the storms can be pretty nasty, esp. if you are miles from nowhere.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awL4PJRrp9Q









Offline John Nelson

Re: Kansas
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2022, 12:38:13 am »
One might also mention the 6000 foot climb east to west (or the 6000 foot descent west to east).

Huh? Kansas?

Offline canalligators

Re: Kansas
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2022, 06:21:17 am »
3000 feet total elevation difference between the Mississippi River and the base of the Rockies. In practice, a very gradual upgrade crossing Kansas.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Kansas
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2022, 08:58:40 am »
Most of the considerations have been covered already, but let me mention one more connection that I didn't see explicitly stated.

Winds seem to be a fact of life crossing Kansas.  Any wind outside of 30-45 degrees off a direct tailwind feels like a headwind.  So you'll feel like you're fighting headwinds most of the way.  Either direction.

As noted, the winds tend to pick up mid-morning.  So if you start riding at dawn, you can usually get 5-6 hours of riding in before that nasty "headwind" picks up.  However, if you're eastbound, traffic coming up behind you (in your lane) may be blinded by the rising sun at dawn.  Westbound, you just have to worry about someone turning left into you, because the traffic behind you sees you illuminated by the dawn.  Thus, westbound may win the toss-up.

On the flip side, a strong south wind blows the disruption created by some eastbound trucks across the road, and a westbound rider will feel like you're riding into a wall of wind when they pass.  You probably won't notice more than a slight push if you're eastbound.  Either way, if you can catch up and draft a combine rolling down the road at 18 mph, you'll be in for a great ride!

Motels weren't a problem for most of Kansas when I rode through.  I remember they were a bit sparse in western Colorado, though.

Offline ray b

Re: Kansas
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2022, 02:45:43 pm »
One might also mention the 6000 foot climb east to west (or the 6000 foot descent west to east).

Huh? Kansas?
Well that would be Kansas City to Pueblo through Colorado Springs. A more direct route is only ~3000 feet difference in elevation.... In either case, almost meaningless in the day-to-day feel of a 650 mile trip.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2022, 02:51:32 pm by ray b »
“A good man always knows his limitations.”