It begins

It’s 16 miles from the Kansas/Colorado border and my little one man tent at the high school in Johnson City. And it was about as perfect a 16 miles as I’ve ever ridden – but that might just be the open air talking.

border

Today wasn’t without its problems. I left town a little late, mostly because I freaked out that I’d forget something important. The worst of the minor problems, however, is that there seems to be a software malfunction with my Go Pro camera. That led me to desperately searching out reliable internet in Dodge City, which was harder to come by than I would’ve imagined and led to this Facebook post.

“To every business in Dodge City with a “free WiFi” sign out front: That is not WiFi! That’s a sad, slow version of the internet that is in no way useful or helpful. Your sign should say “free getting pissed off.”

Ron Fields  wins the award for best comment for his image of old man Simpson, with the headline “Old man yells at cloud.”

This is what was going on in my head: “Oh no! My camera isn’t going to work, which means everything is terrible and nothing is going to work out the way I planned.”
I felt this building pressure – I have to find good internet and I have to download a software update and I have to get this camera working again. Which led to obsessively looking for good internet in Dodge. But it hit me that I really don’t need it. The camera will work or it won’t; I’m going to be doing this thing either way. Once I started thinking that way, and got closer to Johnson, I began to get even more excited about this experience.

It’s been a while since I’ve been this far west. It seems nearly every yard has some oddball art – a dead tree filled with old chainsaws, or pitchforks converted into some animal looking contraption.

There’s also this

adult store

And this

pig car
There’s also this, which is amazing.

pasture horizon

 

The wheat is not quite green and not quite amber, but it goes on forever in the part of the state broken only by a slight rise here and there. On my way from the border to Johnson, I could see storm clouds moving in from the west, and I wondered if there’s any more dramatic image than that nearly ripe wheat swaying against a dark, turbulent and threatening sky. It was breathtaking.

But I was told during a first timer’s meeting tonight that it won’t always be that way. Members of the BAK board told us that the best way to enjoy BAK is to view it as an adventure, and to have a good attitude.

“It will test you in ways you might not imagine. Things will be outside your comfort zone. It might be a 35 mph wind, a cold shower, or not what you might order for dinner,” one board member said. “Go with the flow. Some of these tests will end up being some of your best stories.”

One person told the story about riding 80 miles on a 114 degree day, while another said it was 59 degrees and raining on his first day. But all these people come back year after year, so there must be some truth to it when they say the people and the experience make it a worthwhile adventure.

I can’t possibly cover everything I’ve seen or thought today, so here are some highlights of some things I’ve seen or heard so far.

  • We’re in a tornado watch tonight, but “that happens all the time out here.”
  • There is a barber shop quartet that meets several times each day and sings. I’m not kidding. They asked for members tonight. Apparently, they’re pretty good, and they stop and sing at nursing homes along the way.
  • I met a guy from Virginia who is riding in from Colorado to St. Louis, because it’s the last bit of the TransAmerica trail he hasn’t done. He is self-contained – even using his bicycles to rig up a makeshift clothesline.
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  • It seems you pass through towns with water or food at your own peril. I’ve heard the term self-sag many many times tonight.
  • People here are really nice. They compliment you on your bike, or ask you about your tent, or just smile and talk about whatever. It is so very cool.

One last thing – Erica Probst, Lila can totally do this. I mean not today, she’s only 7 months, and maybe not next year or the year after that either. But some day. There are tons of kids here riding this. They don’t look miserable. They look happy. They do not look like this is something their parents, or crazy grandpa, made them do.

Tomorrow is a 49 mile ride to Lakin, and rumor has it the wind will be at our backs.

bikes

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