121 miles (195 km) – Total so far: 1,776 miles (2,858 km)
Wichita is a charming little town or a thriving metropolis depending on your perspective. To me, having been riding through small towns for five weeks, it was a huge mass of humanity: smashed in together with cars and lights and all the attendant city things. There was a massive gathering called “Riverfest” complete with bands, corn dogs, carnies, and funnel cakes. To Christine, who was visiting me from our haunt in Chicago, it was a quant city with a cool little festival going on. Regardless, my rest day was … well… restful. And having Christine around helped me really recharge mentally and motivation-wise.
Getting out of Wichita was easy as pie. Kansas pie. Which is really good pie. This great pie/egress situation was a bike trail following the river for about 15 miles out of town. After the bike trail ended, the traffic remained gentle, the roads flat, and the wind tailing. Holy smokes, tail winds in Kansas! Most folks, including myself, would assume that the prevailing winds would come from the West. I’ve actually had more tailwind days, but today’s was the best. I cranked through 60 miles in just over four hours.
Entering the town of Nickerson, I stopped in at Sunshine cafe. The cafe served an absolutely scrumptious reuben sandwich. Much like Corky’s, they had a journal for cyclists. I could see that I was just behind 6 cyclists that I know. Wouldn’t you know it, as I was tucking in, my favorite Brits, Paul and Terry scooted by. The next town was 58 miles away and I had already done 62. But with a tailwind and the possibility of catching up with me new mates I bolted down a piece of fresh strawberry pie and hopped out on the road to catch up; thereby committing myself to a whopping 121 mile day. Wowza!
Shockingly (at least to myself), I’ve never actually ridden a century before today. 80-90 miles, sure, dozens of times. But I never actually had a reason to ride 100 miles, and just hitting three digits never compelled me. With a tail wind and conversation with Paul, my record breaking miles flew by and we found ourselves arriving at our target city of Lenard.
A storm coming in forced us to figure out some options. The police confirmed the ACA instructions informing us we could setup in the city park with our tents. However, if a thunderstorm rolls in, they rouse out all the campers and have them go get a motel room. Since a thunderstorm is clearly coming tonight, we wanted to avoid the camping/rousing in the middle of the night situation. Paul and Terry decided to try a church. The church we went to, Church of the Nazarene of Larned, Kansas, helped us out tremendously. They had wanted to let us use the facilities, but that would have represented a lot of challenge for them, so they called the Sheriff and got us a voucher for a motel. In retrospect, we realized that they were probably paying for the hotel room instead of relying on the local policies regarding thunderstorms and motels. Such an amazing gesture from a group of people that wanted to care for us as we rode through town. After checking in, Paul, Terry, and myself joined John and Jerry to create a five stinky man stampede to Pizza Hut. The consensus was that we ate about 15,000 calories worth of food between us.