I have a lot of ground to cover. Let’s start with the rides.
Tuesday was a 69 mile ride from Plainville to Lincoln, and it was a very difficult ride. I don’t think I’m alone in that assessment. I heard a lot of people talking about how tiring it was. And the reason, quite simply was wind. Terrible wind that blew and blew and blew some more. There was no getting away from it. It was a cross wind and a head wind at the same time, it seemed. It was blowing hard in the morning before the sun was up and only grew worse throughout the day.
But – Despite this exhausting ride, the day wasn’t without fun. Particularly in the town of Lincoln.
Like so many towns along the route, the riders on BAK are treated very well. But Lincoln did us a real favor of shuttling us around between our camp at the high school to the downtown area. After four days of relentless winds, few people felt like walking in the heat to find a meal. And even fewer wanted to ride a bike. These shuttles weren’t shuttles at all; they were local residents who used their personal vehicles to drive people around. We didn’t have to wait long to grab a ride to downtown or back.
Downtown we found a great pizza joint, Biggie Bigs, a right out on the street massage stand, live music, bicycle sculptures and a group of kids playing with radio control cars. It was really fun to watch, and it always makes me feel great to see the effort these small towns put into making us feel welcome and have something fun to do after a long day of riding.
That night, after all that wind, a storm developed. It knocked out the power at the school for a bit, and forced a lot of tent campers inside. While we’re on it, I might have been converted to a gym rat instead of a tenter. Set-up and tear-down is quicker, and air conditioning is nice after being in the heat all day.
We also stopped in the town of Lucas, which might just be one of the coolest towns in Kansas. There’s the Garden of Eden, and the Grassroots Art Center with an outdoor. We had a sack lunch at the Lucas Theater, before spending a little time exploring the town.
Wednesday morning, all was clear. And it was a beautiful morning. We left around 6:30 a.m., which is a little later than we like to leave, usually around 6 a.m. Mitch and I stopped in Tescott and decided to grab breakfast at a restaurant. The town has some really cool shops. I remember going to Tescott in 1993, I think, when the town flooded.
The wind on Wednesday was slight, and in some places pushed us a bit. After four days of 20+ mph winds, it was a relief to have some better riding conditions. I can tell that everyone’s mood is a little improved today, and the whole thing seems to have a little more life now. The wind really is a buzzkill. It just howls. You can hardly carry on conversations, or play any music or do any of the things that normally would take one’s mind off the strain.
Today was century day, or the day there’s a planned route to do 100 miles. I was having such a great day of riding, and enjoying the ride and the scenery so much, I decided to skip it and just do the normal 73 miles.
Early on in the day, I was riding with Mitch, but it didn’t take long for him to take off ahead of me. I caught up with him at the lunch stop in Solomon – which was another great lunch provided by BAK with help from the Solomon community. But it didn’t take long for Mitch to head out again without me.
I was happy about this. He’s getting stronger and more sure of his ability every day.
I remember my first year in 2015, at some point, maybe three or four days in, I realized that finishing this was something I could actually do. It seems he’s discovered that as well, and it’s an incredible realization.
I got to spend some time on my own, thinking about some things and clearing my mind. I also got to ride along some friends for a time and chat with them. And the last part of the day, I just pedaled as hard as I could until I made it to Chapman, around 2:30 p.m.
This is the sort of day I had been waiting for, and one I worried might not come after the first four days that, quite literally, blew.