After two days of considerably difficult wind and heat, the third day of BAK has returned somewhat to normal.
Well, as normal as normal can be for people who think it’s fun to ride a bicycle across a windblown state.
We left WaKeeney a little later than we had planned – because I was exhausted from the day before and slept through my alarm. So a 6 a.m. start turned out to be a 6:45 ish start. But we still had time to eat the best breakfast burrito I’ve had in years, and out early enough to catch a great photo of the sunrise.
This ride was 50 miles of awesome, followed by 15 minutes of very hard riding because the wind and heat had picked up again. But along the way in the morning, the ride felt comfortable, with time to stop and play a bit and enjoy some of the scenery along the way.
In Hill City, I heard a sheep bleat at me, so I turned around and went to talk them and the people walking them. Chloe and her grandson Aiden were walking up their driveway, and stopped to talk to me for a few minutes. Meanwhile, Mitch took photos of Kimberly doing Yoga poses in front of the Welcome to Hill City sign, because she refuses to do “plain” pictures anymore.
Later, we took the optional route to Nicodemus, the oldest city west of the Mississippi founded by African Americans. I’ve heard about the town for years, learning about it in school and reading the stories from Amy Bickel or Kathy Hanks about the town and its history. But I’ve never made the trip up there. Since the route came within four miles, though, we decided to go a little off route.
The historical site has a great deal of history, and I’d recommend checking it out. It’s pretty amazing to see what went into establishing this town at a time when newly freed slaves were being exploited across the country. If you want to hear the story firsthand, look for Luecreasea Horne, who is a direct descendant of some of the town’s founders.
There’s also a great park there, with some of the equipment we love, namely a tornado slide and one of those old school merry go rounds.
We also stopped in lunch at this incredible deli and grocery store in Palco. I don’t know how to describe it really, but it just had a good feel. There were cyclists and locals all sitting down together at the same table talking to each other, enjoying some really great sandwiches. Mitch bought a jar of pickles and ate most of them and drank the juice. He said, “I know it’s crazy, but it really does help.” I told him if it helps, then it’s not crazy.
And, naturally, I spent some time stopping to take pictures of the scenery, which at times was just breathtaking. The early morning sunlight made a fog of the moisture in the air, seemingly covering the hills with smoke. It’s always a great thing to see in the morning.
The road out of Nicodemus ran south, against the wind, and there were some significant hills to get over – both on the side route and the main route into Plainville.
Speaking of Plainville, this is another town that did us right. There was a row of food and drink vendors right outside the school. A concert on the football field, and a nice inviting atmosphere for all the riders. The only complaint I have about this town is that on the way in, I was starting to think the town was actually moving away from me. Like that scene in Blazing Saddles, where the just move the town to a different location so the bandits can’t find it. I seemed to ride forever. I could see the town from miles away. And every time I thought I was there, it turned out I still had farther to go.
But I’m sure that was just me with a touch of delirium toward the end of a day’s ride.
Oh, and Mitch killed it today. The past two days were rough, but today he rode like he’s been doing this his whole life.