Here’s the theme for today – The sheer awesomeness of Kansas.
Every town BAK has stopped in has greeted us with open arms and gone out of their way to make our stay, or even a stop, in their town an incredible experience. From Johnson City to today’s stop in Sterling, these towns have rolled out the red carpet for us.
And not just towns – even farmhouses along the way offered some hospitality.
Yes, that’s a random farmhouse between Hudson and Sterling with a garden hose left running (with a spray nozzle) and a sign inviting riders to refill their water bottles. Or maybe spray themselves off with cool well water, because it was pretty hot outside.
And let’s talk about lunch in Hudson, home of Hudson Cream Flour. This lunch was epic. We had our choice of Bierocks, Pizza pockets, pigs in a blanket, ham and cheese pockets, as well as macaroni salad and cole slaw. And cookies. Cookies stretched out over three long tables, and stacked as high as a small child. Cookies with labels like “Smores” and “Strawberry Cheesecake.”
And it was all made from scratch by the kind of grandmotherly women you know have more than a little experience with feeding people.
After all this, the day ended at Sterling. And this meant that we had access to one of the best ice cream shops in the state, a community dinner with live music, free swimming at the pool, and a wine/beer and appetizer spread at Studio 96, the community center. It also meant that we had people waving to us, saying “Welcome to Sterling. We’re glad you’re here.” As it turns out a childhood friend, Chad Johanning, is a Sheriff’s Deputy in Rice County. He said the community had been planning our arrival for months, and it showed. Everything went off without a hitch, and we all felt very, very welcome here.
Sterling knocked it out of the park, but really, this is largely how it’s been everywhere we’ve gone. People are really good to us. I talked to Stefanie Weaver tonight, the BAK executive director, and she said the Larned Police thanked us for coming to town, and said they might start a cycling club because some of the kids were so enthralled with all the cyclists that came to town.
We also spent a little time wandering around Sterling. This train depot looked like a restored depot, but really it’s the law office of Scott Bush. He might have been unhappy when we wandered in, but he wasn’t; he took us around and showed us the place. It was very cool. There were also some very cool houses, and did I mention that they let us all swim for free?
All the news from today isn’t good though. After four days of long rides, I’m finding that my ass is quite sore. I knew this was coming. I had hoped that it wouldn’t, that I’d discover some previously unknown ability to resist the effects of friction. But, alas, today there was noticeable soreness. In case I’m being unclear, here’s another diagram.
I’m used Gold Bond today, and that didn’t help much. I think tomorrow I’m going to have to break down and use the Butt Butter to help things slide a little better. I have a big tube of this at home, but I forgot it. I almost asked Harley’s Bicycle shop to overnight some to me, just so I could have plenty on hand.
There’s also been one bit of bad news from BAK – there were two accidents on Monday, between Jetmore and Larned. I know that neither accident was too serious – in that the victims will recover and be fine. But they had to cut their BAK trip short due to the injuries. In one case, a truck passed too closely to a rider, and the cross wind blew her bike over, causing an injury that required hospital treatment. In the other accident, two cyclists bumped their tires, causing them to lose control of their bikes.
As usual, there was a lot to see on this leg of the trip. This part took us through the heart of Quivira Wildlife Refuge, and it was amazing. For me, what caught me more than the scenery was the smell. That scent – of grass and wetness and cattle and marsh – is a scent of my childhood. It’s a scent that reminded me of the summers I went fishing in farm ponds, or roaming down muddy creek beds. There’s a very distinct smell to that part of the state, and for me, it was quite nostalgic. I heard a lot of people talk, again, about how they didn’t know about Quiviria, but now that they do, they plan to come back and visit.
When I got to Sterling, Kathy Hanks, Sandra Milburn and our summer intern Tiffany Dawson were nearby ready to shoot photos. Here are a few of me, some include my friend Kim Hawks, from Parsons, that Sandra shot on our way into town.
One more thing that I forgot from yesterday. Here’s a nifty little John Deere dealership in Burdett. We all thought it was pretty funny when we drove past it.
More to come! I still have Peggy’s story – with the modified bike that allows her to ride, interesting stats from BAK, and what everyone really thinks about the most common phrase of BAK (unless you’re one of the “racers”) – “On your left.”