by Adam Lett, 2019 Pactimo Brand Ambassador
BAK Day #1: We got up early in the morning for our Journey to Goodland Kansas where I was about to embark on a 9-day bike ride; I had never done anything like this before and was excited for this new challenge. Despite having started packing the week before, I was up till midnight checking on gear and feeling like I was forgetting something. We left Missouri at 7am and seemed to travel forever. About 8 hours later, we rolled into Goodland and got ourselves checked in and a camping spot secured for the night. Trish drove us on out to the Colorado border for the first leg of our journey; we rode from the Colorado border to Goodland, Kansas. Sage, Nash, and I took a few minutes to get a group picture in front of the Colorado border sign before heading down the road. Hefty crosswinds were making it hard to maintain a straight line. I passed several riders and one gal sped up to match my speed and began talking with me about Pactimo products. She asked me about how I liked being a Brand Ambassador and I explained that it was wonderful; I had been meeting a lot of wonderful people on rides and telling them about the great things that Pactimo offers on their product line, not to mention the events they sponsor and support. I gave her a Pactimo sticker when we got back to camp and a card with my info and purchasing information. Attended the ride briefing and Heard there are over 845 cyclists riding this year.
BAK Day #2: No wonder they build wind farms in Kansas; it's always windy. When does the wind stop? Ugh. Ended up beating the luggage trucks in - was in the top 1/4 of daily arrivals to Colby, KS. When the trucks arrived, I joined the other waiting cyclists and unloaded a sea of luggage. We did as good of job as the airline luggage guys! Met and visited with a lot of nice people today. I met a father and son (Mike and Dax) who were riding the event and were pretty good riders; we rode the last ten miles in together and got to know each other. Turns out, Mike was also riding for Cancer research that month like I was. Mike and his son had ridden quite a bit in Colorado and even did some century rides in Colorado; Impressive in my book!!! My favorite thing today was the last rest stop with the colored haired grandmas or better known as the SAG Hags. They were colorful and fun; I just had to get a picture with them!! I also was challenged to a game of cornhole by a rider named Travis; the challenge was looser does 5 push-ups and I won by a point. He followed through with his wager and did the push-ups.
BAK Day #3: Today I rode 70 miles from Colby to Hill City. This morning was pretty miserable as it had just rained and a cold wind was blowing out of the north at 24mph. There were times the wind gusted I guess at 30mph. I rode to Walmart to pick up a long sleeve shirt and rain jacket. It is June, isn't it? This afternoon had hills and I crushed those! Getting stronger each ride!!! The mid-ride meal was BBQ pork from a catering company, it tasted great! Keep meeting a lot of great people. There was a family holding a fundraiser selling Brats and Hamburgers to help raise money for a young man recently diagnosed with cancer so we had dinner there to support him; those brats sure were good!! The school we were staying in was small, so we ended up sleeping in the hall; turns out that squeaky bathroom doors and sleep do not mix well. LOL.
BAK Day #4: Rode 66 miles from Hill City to Hays. The weather was chilly this morning, hence the purple long sleeve Wildcat shirt purchased the day before from Walmart, but quickly warmed up. Stopped by the Nicodemus historical site, one of the first free black slave settlements in Kansas. I also stopped by the town of Damar, a French Canadian settlement, and toured their ornate Catholic Church. I stopped in the town of Palco and visited an old-time gas station, like the one in Cars. I met another rider who had just moved to Neosho there. Later, I stopped by a rest stop at a historic country church where I met some lively old gals, one reminded me of Rebecca Hinkle. I rode in from there with three other great guys to Ellis where we had lunch at Dairy Queen. After lunch, we headed toward Hays. I pulled up with another drafter, her name was Teresa. She drafted me until the final rest stop. We chatted about training and I complimented her on her pace ability. Pulled into the school at 1:06 and was there early and picked out a good camping spot in the gym. Met another nice group of people today! Daryl helped me out by transporting my shirt to the end of the course as he was supporting a friend riding who was 81 years old. WOW! Sage and I ended the day by hanging out with the ride photographer and he took us to Fort Hays to check out the park and then we went and ate dinner. Tomorrow is 48 miles. I better get some sleep.
BAK Day #5: Hays to Wilson 48 miles. I am posting this a day late since the internet was lacking. Today was pretty interesting as I stopped by a town called Victoria and toured the Great Plains Catholic Cathedral. It is Romanesque structure and was the largest church west of the Mississippi when German settlers built it of native limestone. You can literally see the towers from 10 miles away. We continued onto our destination called Wilson. Wilson was a Czech immigrant settlement. When walking around, Travis and I found an actual working telephone booth; I thought about calling my wife collect! Lol. The town put on a concert for us and had all kinds of activities, that is till the storms rolled in; they were impressive as there were no trees in the way to block the wonderful light show.
BAK Day #6: Wilson to Minneapolis 68 miles. Today started out with long climbs up to Lake Wilson. Many people warned me of the steep hill that I would have to walk; I made it no problem. Kansas has nothing on Missouri hills! I stopped by the town of Sylvan Grove and toured their old train depot which was full of cool artifacts. I stopped by a fundraising stand and had a piece of chocolate pie; it sure tasted good!! After 35 miles of hills, the pie could have tasted like dirt and I would not have cared. Stopped by one of our official SAG stops and get to take another pic with our SAG HAGS; their theme was "Walk like an Egyptian." Later, I stopped by the town of Trescott, where I had the best pulled pork sandwich, that was at mile 55 so I might have been a little hungry! The last 8 miles were a true sufferfest of hills and strong winds, north headwinds!!! Note: yesterday, I rode in my club shorts and could not get comfortable on a 48-mile ride, but today I wore my Pactimo shorts and was just fine!! Way to go Pactimo!!!
BAK Day #7: Century ride from Minneapolis to Clay Center. I decided to tackle the Century ride today and ended with 104 miles, which is my longest ride to date. I rode with Travis, Ethan, and Teresa; they are all really good riders and were fun to hang out with. We stopped by Abeline, which is the home of President Eisenhower. After having a coke and a doughnut, we took the tour of his presidential library and homestead. I got in for free since I was a teacher; score! We viewed a movie about his presidency and then took the tour. Learned a lot about the historical significance of his presidency. We then rode into Enterprise where we ate lunch at a diner and rested a bit. The day was calm of wind and the temperature was nice. 8 miles from the end of the ride, we stopped at a fundraiser which was serving pie and ice cream. I enjoyed having riding companions today! Tomorrow is another day of 85 miles, we might just turn it into another 100-mile ride.
BAK Day #8: Century ride from Clay Center to Holton, KANSAS IS NOT FLAT! Today's ride was comprised of lots of rolling hills and they never stopped. Just when you think you have climbed to the top, here comes another rolling hill. Some of the hills are gradual inclines that might last for 1 to 2 miles before you Crest, only to dip down to another hill. The hills were not what was hard about this day, it was the strong crosswind! Just when I would get the momentum going down a hill, the wind would gust blowing me across the highway; I had a couple of pucker moments that really made me tense! The SAG HAGS had a mid-ride stop stocked with all kinds of cool treats such as beef jerky, bananas, and trail mix; their theme was a patriotic once again I had to get a picture. I missed them yesterday since the century route was basically non-supported. As I neared town, we came across many fundraiser stands along the roadside. I also noticed folks from Holton were sitting along the edge of their yards cheering us on, a flood of emotion suddenly came over me; think it was from being physically and mentally drained from the day of hills and wind - I truly appreciated their encouragement!!! The town also had decorated bicycles along the bike route into town. I pulled into the school and found my luggage. I walked in and the gym was still pretty empty. I got Sage, Nash, and I a good spot in the gym then hit the showers for my leg massage. After that, I went back out to finish up my century ride. This gave me two century rides back to back one day after another! Legs still doing pretty good. Later Sage and I hopped on his tandem and we raced to the block party. When I started pedaling, Sage yelled out "Wow, I have just upgraded from a v4 to a v8." We were flying! We each devoured half of a large meat lover's pizza. When we got back, we stopped and visited with Daryl and his family - new friends. Went to bed feeling accomplished. I have loved this experience but I am tired and miss my family.
BAK #9: Final day of riding from Holton to Atchison 41 miles. I found it very difficult to get up this morning having done back to back century (100 mile) rides. Sitting in my camp chair, I reflected on the experiences of the past 8 days. I met a lot fo new friends, saw parts of Kansas I never knew existed, discovered a true appreciation for the quality and engineering of my Pactimo bib shorts, and how important it is that Missouri keep trees; they are great windbreaks!! Lol. I loaded my luggage for the last time, mounted my bike and headed out for the final 41 miles. Others told me the night before that we had another day of nothing but rolling hills and they were correct. The wind was very calm today so I was able to crush the hills without that unnerving feeling that strong crosswinds would knock me over. There was one guy that had passed me as I was coming out of the second SAG stop. Soon I caught up to him and passed him on the first hill. The rider tried drafting off of me once he caught up, but I was able to drop him. I have been impressed with the various riding abilities of the nearly 900 riders. Once we turned north for some time, I found myself cruising at over 30 mph on a gentle downhill; man, that was fun. I was blazing past probably 30 other riders as I cranked on my highest gear. With only 10 miles to go, I came upon one of my new friends, Ethan. We rode together for some time and chatted about the previous days' ride. As we neared Atchison, we came upon a sign for an airport tour, so I turned in to check it out. There were many planes out on display including Ameila Earhart's plan which was housed in a hanger. That was pretty neat to see. I rolled into Atchison soon after and was warmly greeted by the sounds of cheers and bell ringing. At the end of the ride, I joined the line of other cyclists and took my turn dipping my tire in the Missouri River which was the official border of Kansas; A feeling of accomplishment! I had just ridden 568.98 miles in 9 days. My family came over and gave me huge hugs, I was very happy to share this moment with them. We went to the finish line to cheer on my buddy Sage and his son Nash who completed their 2nd BAK ride on a tandem bike. I caught up with some of my new friends and bought a finisher t-shirt before eating a celebration meal of tacos. I was asked by a friend if I was going to not ride for a while, I replied that I would probably wait a day before my next ride. I have to get ready for upcoming century rides. Thank you BAK for a great experience and the welcoming people of Kansas for your community hospitality! I look forward to seeing you again!
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