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  • anthony5736

Day 37, Saturday June 24th

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

My ride last night for the most part went well. Traffic was light and the weather was a clear 77 degrees. I once had a job selling electronic variable traffic signs to several departments of transportation on the east coast. The systems were purchased based on a bidding where best cost and compliance were the essential elements that offered the best hope to be awarded a contract. The company I worked for placed a high priority on communication with traffic engineers to help ensure the specifications of our products would be adopted into their compliance requirements. It made sense. If our specs were called for to be compliant than we could focus on being fiercely competitive on price. This approach worked beautifully with 2 contracts in my region. In meeting with traffic engineers safety was seemingly always a high priority. The people I met with were dedicated to provide the state with the best systems to help protect motorist and the general population. Being courted by sales people was of no interest unless it suited their need for information to meet their mission. Engineers can come up with the best systems but the application of those systems does can fall short unexpectedly. At the end of the day what gets implemented is a judgement call of what delivers the greater good. What provides the greater numbers of people benefits of safety even if there are downsides. Downsides can be accepted if a greater good is achieved. Why do I go on about this? Being a cyclist I find it to be a downside for cyclists when the safety grids stamped into the road at the shoulder are applied. The grids are great to warn a driver they have drifted out of their lane and may be about to fly off the road. Placement of those grids often wind up in space provided for a bicycle to travel. Going over these grids in a car or a truck is noisy. On a bicycle it is unsustainable. The choices are off to a ditch or out into traffic. As a suggestion, I think there is a compromise that might work. Make the grids half as wide as they are and be precise to place them in a way to allow for maximum shoulder width when there is a shoulder. This might help some of the time. In the meantime it is the responsibility of the cyclist to adjust to conditions where the grids in the pavement are present. I ride with my cleats released and reduce my speed and ride steady when the traffic comes from behind. My radar helps a lot. Someday everything will be with sensors between the cars and the road and the road grids won't be needed. Maybe self driving cars is not such a bad thing. So far my time in Kansas has been without encountering any of these road grids. Kansas is a big state, I imagine them to possibly be in my path. As for the traffic engineers... I hope someone looks at this and keeps in mind there are bicycles on the road. Once could argue to take the bikes off the road, but I am not a member of that way of thinking. At least for the time being...

It was a delight to reach the Kansas border last night. I took a photo of the welcome sign. Kansas is where I met a group of cyclists 65 and over who were biking across Kansas. 42 years ago that's when I was inspired to do the cross country trip again - once I reached 65. I waited a year and am now 66, but I think I kept with the idea of doing the trip again but at 65+. After crossing the border I changed batteries. I had ample power to make it to the Paola Inn. Upon arrival I think it was close to 1 a.m. The front desk clerk was wonderful. When I asked if there was a vending machine she guided me to the breakfast dining area and allowed me to help myself to an apple, muffins and a few breakfast treats - even a bottled water! I setup my bike for charging in my room and went to sleep. In the morning I cleaned 3 pairs of wool socks by hand. The shampoo with warm water in the sink works great. I air dry my socks by running each one through a loop on my saddle bags. On a hot day they dry quickly. Clean dry fluffy socks are a pleasure to wear. My feet thank me!

After planning my trip for the day I check out of the Paola Inn (really nice place - friendly staff). I booked a room at the Lamont Hill Motel in Vassar, KS. The first leg of my trip today was to McDonald's in Ottawa, KS. My batteries are just about charged and soon I will head to the motel. They close at 9:30 p.m. so I will have to call them to make arrangements to get into my room. I spoke to a woman at the motel this morning and they will probably leave my room unlocked or have a key waiting for me somewhere. My ride to Ottawa this afternoon included a great bike trail called the Flint Hills Nature Trail. It was an easy ride with the trees on each side of the trail breaking the wind, allowing me to glide down the trail almost effortlessly. Gliding and floating along on a beautiful summer day in June - blue sky, open landscapes to glimpse through the trees and big puffy white clouds. Turn my ear to my heading while zipping along 15 to 17 miles per hour and the roar of the wind stops and I can hear everything. Moments like this are why I ride. Is it fun? Yes and something else. I feel relaxed, fully alive and want for nothing.

Time to call the motel and get going.

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