There is so much to write about from today’s ride! I hardly know where to begin, and I know I don’t have enough time to do it all tonight – but tomorrow is a short day, so I should be able to update more tomorrow.
Today’s ride was 80 miles from Lakin to Jetmore. I left about 7 a.m. and got to Jetmore around 2 p.m. – and that included a lot of turning around to take pictures of people and things that caught my attention.
So let’s start with this: Heidi and Claudia Boyles, in Garden City.
Their home sits on the entrance to Garden City, and they stood in their driveway waving to every cyclist that came through saying “Welcome to Garden City.” I rode past them, smiled and waved back and then decided that I wanted to talk to them. They basically said they like seeing the cyclist come through town, and they wanted to welcome everyone to Garden City. And they did – this little thing that they did stuck with me all day. It’s actually incredible, and I know the other cyclists on BAK thought so too – it came up with nearly everyone I talked with.
Once again we had the wind at our backs – not much of a tailwind, but a tailwind nonetheless. Again, the countryside is breathtaking. When I talked with the Boyles, they said they couldn’t remember a time when there had been so much rain, and the landscape has come alive as a result.
Here’s a sampling.
I had planned to do 100 miles today by riding an extra 20 when I got into Jetmore. But I was pretty tired – not exhausted – but tired enough I didn’t feel like doing it. Plus, when I looked at the temperature on my bike computer, it said 109, which isn’t really the temperature, but it’s what it feels like beating off from the pavement. And there are a lot of hills around Jetmore. Anyone who says Kansas is flat should ride down K-156 between Kalvesta and Jetmore. Believe me it’s hilly.
Everything about today was fantastic. I made a new friend, Rita, from Parsons, and we rode together for much of the day. She’s a lot of fun, and we had some very good conversations. She told me about her divorce, and I told her about mine. We talked about the sort of pain that not everyone “gets” and we talked about how you’re sort of crazy and can’t really decide much while it’s going on. And we talked about starting over. Her friend, Bill, started over before, she said, and he seems really happy. In fact, he’s a hoot, too. I’m really glad I got the chance to meet them today and spend some time with them.
I also talked with Peggy Fiest, who can’t bend her right knee but is doing BAK with the aid of a sort of reducer shaft that allows a full stroke with her left pedal, while only moving the right pedal about three inches or so. I’ll talk to her more tomorrow, I hope, and get some photos of her bicycle. But she said the device allowed her to ride a bike for the first time in 25 years, and now she’s riding across the state – and that’s pretty amazing.
I also got to sit down and talk with Mike and Carolyn Patterson, who are sort of legends on BAK and with the cycling community in Hutchinson. They gave me some good pointers and tips, and talked about some of their early experiences with BAK. Carolyn also said one of the most interesting things about BAK is the variety of people that participate. And that’s what I’ve noticed too. People from different backgrounds, different fitness levels, different body types, whatever. But at the end of the day, everyone is just her to enjoy the road in front of them, and the people they’re sharing it with. That, in and of itself is a pretty amazing thing – and one I hope to carry with me well after this trip has concluded.
An aside: While I was writing this, there was a group of teenagers gathered in a back hallway of the Jetmore High School, sharing stories about their dorky parents and how they ended up on BAK. One girls said, “My dad signed me up and didn’t tell me. Surprise!” They also seemed to be cracking jokes about how the way in which they ditch their parents. But, it still didn’t seem like any of these kids was unhappy to be here – they were just kids dogging on their parents like kids do. But they were laughing, a lot, and it looked like they were having a good time to me. And I’ll bet someday they’ll talk about that time Dad made them ride a bicycle across the state, and my guess is that they’ll remember it with a smile.
I hope to write more tomorrow when I get to Larned, but here are some highlights from today.
Curt, in Lakin, make me a killer omlet with habernaro pepper and avacodo for breakfast. It was a good way to start the day.
I got a new front tire. My other was showing serious wear, and I worried all day about whether it would hold up. As soon as I rolled into Jetmore, I got that taken care of so I don’t have to worry.
I want to write tomorrow about this “on your left” business that everyone says when they pass you. I have some things to say about all that, but more than I can say now.
I tried to pay attention to other riders today. They use the “small ring” far more than I do, so I’m going to try that a little more.
Harlen, Rita, Bill and their friend Kim, along with me, ate dinner and drank beer at “The Hideout” in Jetmore. It was great, and it was a good way to end a long ride. The place had cattle panels set up out front to serve as a coral for all the cyclists.
At one of the SAG stops, there was a convergence of cyclists and bikers – the kind that wear leather jackets. It was an interesting site, but we all talked to each other and got along fine. They had a poker run going on, and didn’t seem all that interested in our orange slices and banana halves.