Our route had taken us into Larned, Kansas which was only 60 miles from where Eleanor, my grandmother lived in Hays. Also residing there was aunt Karen, who was gracious enough to pick up two smelly and tired cyclists. We were in a good mood, though, as we were heading toward home cooked meals. Also greatly improving our disposition was a day that included fierce tailwinds, strumming us along at 18-25 miles per hour. I have been involved in seven Race Across America bicycle events (crew and staff) and a tail wind in Kansas is rather rare as relentless headwinds great most riders.
My journal notes share that we arrived in Hays and ate a ton for supper. Probably pretty close to accurate as riding your bicycle all day causes an otherworldly panic for sustenance. And add excellent home cooking...
The head of the American Diabetes Association (Kansas) Francis Shipper, visits with us for some tales from the road for an addition in their newsletter.
The next day would see us at the other end of the camera with KAYS- TV. Watching yourself on the 6pm and 10pm news is a bit startling, but I do have the strong desire to encourage and inspire others with diabetes. Get in front of that camera Dave! I am not going to let diabetes rule my life.
Roger would share that he felt like a celebrity with all the pictures, questions and media. Celebrity status (in a very minor way) would continue with articles by Hays Daily News (done in Larned, KS), Ellis County Star, and a story to be submitted by Cindy Wiley (Tucson, AZ - American Diabetes Association) for El Tour Magazine (El Tour de Tucson bicycle event in Tucson).
Via the media, we would be contacted by Brian, a cyclist touring from Philadelphia, PA to San Diego, CA. He was in Hays doing a rather torturous grind with 100 miles per day in a solo effort. He would share trying moments such as; tire blowouts, being attacked by a swarm of bees, excessive rain, and lost maps. Ohhhhhh, so fortunate looking back on our exceptional tour and outstanding company.
Karen would take us to Fort Hays State University, Sternberg Museum, the swinging bridge, Taco Time, Bohm's Bike Shop (they had told us about Brian) and we would endure two games of racquetball. My notes share that we split the games. Her memory may say otherwise.
Time to hit the road.
Diabetes would not rule my life but the only section of dirt road on our tour, might. Well, maybe rule Roger's life as I did not have a flat tire. Karen shuttled us back to Larned to get back on our tour. After Larned we would reach this special section of road (10 miles).
While in Larned we were interviewed by the Tiller & Toiler (newspaper in Larned). Along the route, we have been involved with call-ins to KCMS in Tucson. A Christian radio station that Roger worked at.
My journal spits out that the Larned to Hutchinson section was possibly the most difficult day (so far). That is what happens when you eat 1/2 ton of food! I could not put a finger on it, but it was a rare form of ugly on this day. Yes, Kansas was back to her old nature with screamingly torrid headwinds. I was felt ready to quit. Blood sugars were hellish. Thankfully a connection through the American Diabetes Association landed us at Skip Smith's home in Hutchinson. People are amazing and we were blessed every day.
Woke up 50 to 75% dead. Feeling trashed, but at least not quite ready to end the tour. I do manage to ride better than I thought was possible. Blood sugar is still horrible and Roger is not riding well so we make it a short day. My mother's friend has a contact in Newton where we do a rendition of 'American Gothic' (famous farm couple painting with farmhouse & tool)and but enjoy an excellent stay with James & Cindy Wulf where we are so busy chatting that dinner is not tackled until 10pm. Roger and I are so impressed with the Wulf's and a very simple but hard lifestyle. 12-18 hours a day of farm work is daunting but is required for those living life on a farm.
Life has re-entered my system as we roll out of Newton. A solid day of riding for the first time in three or four days. As you near the Kansas/Missouri border the hills begin to make their presence known. That rumor that Kansas is pancake flat has been shredded. Girard, KS greets us with a day off and a visit to Big Brutus (16-story tall shovel for coal mining). We attend a Pittsburg State University football game in Joplin, MO vs Missouri Southern State College.
September 25th includes a church service, Chicken Annie's, 75-80 degree day and another border crossing, this one into Missouri. I notice each year I am involved with the Race Across America that with the Kansas border at your back the scenery takes a dramatic turn and the hills salute you as you roll into the Show Me State. What will Missouri show us?