I was awake before 7 and found Rita and Frank already up. Rita had heard that I eat tortillas sometimes during my trip so decided to make me a breakfast of homemade tortillas, bacon, eggs and hashed browns served with some green and red chilis that they had. It was a delicious way to start the day. Frank talked about his ranch and how he wished I was staying for longer so he could show me around it. When I was readying to leave, they got out the photo albums which were fun to look through but I had to go.
I went outside to pack my bike up and noticed my rear tyre had deflated a bit. It was still cold and I couldn’t be bothered to fix it, so I resolved to sort it out 30 miles down the road when I got to Pritchett, the next town along. We said our goodbyes and they waved me off as I rode back off to continue the ride along US-160.
I was riding for more than an hour that morning until I had my first car pass me. It was even quieter than it had been the day before. The road was gradually dropping and other than the rear tyre all was going well. I made it to Pritchett only having to re-inflate it once, but getting there decided to work on it.
I got the Ortlieb Folding Bowl which I’ve been carrying since Florida out. I’ve only used it once so far on the trip, but I’m not allowed to get rid of it. For one, most other bike tourists seem to think they’re pretty much essential. The other thing is that it was a birthday present from C! I filled it up with water and used it to find why my rear tyre was leaking. Once again, it was the fault of my Park Tool patches, they really didn’t seem to be enjoying the cold weather. I replaced a couple of patches and then hit the road again.
The break had delayed me more than an hour and with 60 miles still to ride and 5 hours until the sun came down I was going to be cutting it fine to get across the border into Kansas and Johnson City. I had no real reason to get to Johnson City that night, it was just the next place on the map when I had looked. If I hadn’t wanted to add Kansas to my list of states, I could have turned south at Springfield and saved most of a day of riding. As it was, I was so close to Kansas that I wasn’t going to take a detour, no matter how much sense it made.
A few hours of riding and I had made it to Walsh. It was about 90 minutes before the sun would set and I was still 30 miles from Johnson City. I looked at my GPS and found the town of Manter which was only 22 miles away and that was my new destination. With the more realistic possibility and the light headwind stopping, I found a new energy and as I saw the sun setting from my saddle for the 3rd day in a row I left Colorado and arrived in Kansas. A quick stop to take a picture of the sign and I was back on the bike for the last 8 miles to Manter.
Being after dusk, I saw plenty of deer standing near the edges of the road. One of them bound across the road, but thankfully it was a good way ahead of me and so I didn’t have to brake to avoid it. I rolled into Manter and although I saw a park on my GPS decided I’d try knocking on a door after my experience in Kim.
A cycle tourist must have decided that people with garden gnomes are good people and so passed on to others that that was what should be looked for. As the sun had set and it was dark, I couldn’t see any gnomes. Being after Thanksgiving however, it meant that I could go with what I took as a good alternative, Christmas lights. Near the post office, I found a well lit up house and knocked at the door. A lady answered and I explained that I was looking for somewhere to pitch my tent. Her husband, who was watching the NFL, said that it was OK and so I was allowed to put my tent up outside. I thanked them and went off to throw it up.
I put the footprint down, rolled the tent body out, started attaching the poles and *CRACK*, found my main tent pole had decided it had done enough work. Luckily, I was able to put the tent up even after the pole had snapped, but it was noticeably smaller inside and much less secure. I was fortunate that there wasn’t much wind, but I was very unimpressed with Vaude and their tent. I got inside and used my Kindle and laptop to work out a route. I had originally been unsure of how far east I would go into Kansas/Oklahoma, but now found myself in a position where I needed to get to REI to get myself a new tent. I found a path that would take me through Texas and pass some warmshowers hosts, minimising the amount of time I’d be spending in my tent, and decided that’s how I’d get down to Austin.