Crossing perfection

I don’t know exactly what cycling shorts and jerseys are made of, but I wish skin was made from the same seemingly  indestructible material.

But you have to read to the end to find out more about that.

Save one mishap, today’s trip from Johnson to Lakin was very close to perfect. From Johnson to Ulysses, the wind blew at our backs from the southwest. Between Ulysses and Lakin, the wind followed as we traveled northward. It didn’t rain, and it wasn’t too hot. I left  Johnson around 7:20 in the morning and hit Lakin around 11 a.m., and that includes taking time to spill my bike, get something to eat and meander around in Ulysses for a while.

Johnson tower

But everyone keeps saying that “Pay backs are hell,” which I take to mean that because today was so nearly perfect, the exact opposite of nearly perfect is waiting for us somewhere later this week.

My little one man tent held up well on Friday night, but I quickly figured out that while it might be comfortable for one man, it’s a tight fit for one man plus all his stuff. Weatherwise, it didn’t rain and the wind didn’t blow, and the temperature was comfortably cool overnight.

I know what people say about Western Kansas. “Oh, it’s so boring and ugly, and I hate driving through that part of the state.” If you’re one of those people, you should stop reading this and go back to watching your favorite mind-numbing reality television show.

I’ve always said that the beauty of Kansas is in the details. We don’t have big mountains to point at, or a coastline, or in this part of the state, trees. But who needs ’em. Kansas might make you work a little to see her beauty, but it’s there – and I’m telling you it is so much easier to see on a bike. This year, I suspect, she’s in full bloom thanks to some timely rains and moderate temperatures.

Here, see for yourself.

Big Bow

A wheat field near Big Bow.

lakin hills Lakin hills 2 lakin hills 1Ark River Lakin

The sand hills outside of Lakin. These things are magical, and these photos don’t do them justice. Come here some time, in the spring or early summer to see them. You won’t regret it. Also the Arkansas River outside of Lakin.

field of flowers

I saw this field of flowers, so I picked some



flag barn

Here’s a flag painted on a half-can shed, cause you know, how often do you see that?!


And this movie theater in Ulysses, because it’s so retro and cool!

Then there’s this girl, Julia Denison, who I saw painting while I was on the way in to write this post. She’s from Nashville, but her dad lives in Kansas City and he wanted to do something “epic” for his 60th birthday. So he got his family together and they’re all doing BAK. We all had a lot of down time today, so she decided to paint this tree at Lakin Middle School.

Denison 2 Denison 1

I spent most of the afternoon hanging out with Lakin resident Curt Smith, who hauled me into Garden City to get  some gear, let me wash some clothes at his house and let me hang out with him this afternoon. I’m going to crash at his place tonight and head out first thing in the morning for the first of one of our long days  – an 80 mile trek to Jetmore.

OK, let’s talk about that fall.

As I came in to Ulysses, I crossed a set of railroad tracks, and wasn’t really paying attention. Bob at Harley’s Bicycle warned about RR tracks and told me how good they are at catching road bike tires and just dumping you on the ground.

He was so spot on. I hit those tracks, my tire fell into a rut and it turned my bike, and me, on it’s side in epic fashion. I hit the ground – hard – and slid for what felt like 10 feet. I don’t know if that’s right, but it felt like it. I was sore, embarrassed and had nice patches of road rash on my knee, shoulder and hip, along with a swollen and sore forearm. But whatever they make cycling clothing out of is damn near indestructible – nary a scratch on my shorts or shirt, despite raw skin underneath.

Road rash

But I know a thing or two about falling down and kissing the ground. I’ve done it plenty – on my bike and in just about every other way imaginable. I’ve gotten very good at falling – I don’t fight it these days, I just try to make sure I land on soft tissue.

Because I’ve gotten so good at falling, I’ve also gotten good picking myself up, brushing myself off, taking a deep breath, and moving on again.

A few other thoughts about today:

I cannot get full. I have eaten a lot, but I am always hungry.

There’s a guy out here wearing a helmet with devil horns, and it is hilarious.

I woke up at 4:45 a.m. this  morning, ready to go. I wasn’t alone. At all.

Food lines do not move at 5:30 a.m. until someone refills the coffee pot.

The bike repair guy – the Bicycle Peddler – really hooked me up. For $25 my bike is adjusted and back in form for tomorrow.

OK, that’s it, I think. There’s so much that happens in a day that it’s hard to condense into a single blog. Maybe when it’s over I’ll try to put something together. But seriously, if you’ve ever thought of doing this, stop thinking and do it. There are kids, there are old people, there are small people and big people, and they are all doing it at their own pace and having a good time.

Tomorrow – 80 miles to Jetmore. No crashes, no rain, and wind at our backs again – we can hope.





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