Union of Cycling Joy & Celebration

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With the end of the BAK and the beginning of the celebration I ran into a young man wearing a tuxedo cycling shirt.  Complete with a spoke flower  and buttons on the tail, this shirt and the wearer’s smile spoke to the joy and marriage of belonging to a large group if cyclists.

I’m certain I’ll return to the BAK topic often.  It was an experience that simply happens and then ends.  Much like marriage the BAK and cycling in general links people of common interest.  We love the challenge of seeing how far we can travel using two pedals.  There’s a collective effort to help and ensure the safety of other cyclists because when there’s more of us vehicles tend to actually see us.  Plus knowing that someone is a century rider or long distance cyclist demands a mutual respect.  It’s a camaraderie created through self-imposed adversity.

Yep, the tuxedo cycling shirt was a great celebration shirt.  NICE!

Taking Time (@2013_bak)

I’ll keep this short because today was all about family and right now is all about family.

The BAK route ran through two of my husband’s childhood areas.  One was his hometown and, we visited his grandparents graves.

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The other was his childhood stomping grounds.  Which included a drug store with an old fashion soda shop.

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Then the route took me through places in my memory and I slowed down to just enjoy the moment.  Because that is what BAK is all about.  It’s not the miles.  It’s not the destination.  Instead it is about connecting and reconnecting with people and unique places.  So tonight I chose to spend time with my family.  Tomorrow is later.

Interesting Stories Along the BAK Route (@2013_bak

During this trek I’ve heard several interesting stories, the one I heard in Cedar Vale had me laughing until I was dizzy.  I’ll try to share it the best I can, but of course being there is always better.  I’ll paint some background and you just use your imagination .

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Cedar Vale is a small community with several older homes that look like they haven’t seen maintenance in several decades.  The remains of collapsed homes are scattered along its city blocks, and the asphalt shows signs of buckling from the repeated heat and cold cycles.  It’s a community off the beaten path and it’s one that probably doesn’t see a lot of outside revenue.

It’s also a community with a charitable heart.  My husband is familiar with Cedar Vale.  As a child he visited a relative who received treatments for alcoholism.  Today that facility serves veterans dealing  with PTSD.  My husband joined me on this leg of my trip and showed me the town.  However, before we took a tour down his memory lane he chatted and caught up with the townsfolk.  I listened and smiled as he connected with a relative of a high school classmate.  During the conversation the town’s lady used colorful descriptions with a twist of humor.  She was a storyteller at heart.

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Our meeting and conversation happened during the waning moments of a community lunch supporting Relay for Life.  For a donation cyclists were treated to hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken salad, deviled eggs, potato chips, and home baked cookies and cupcakes.  Like I said, a community with a serving heart.  It’s also a community with colorful characters.

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In the center of the open barn where lunch was served a plastic owl hung from the ceiling.  Barns across the Midwest are often invaded by sparrows and their nests.  Where birds are a problem plastic owls are used to scare away the unwanted birds.

As was told to me:
One night one of the town drunks decided to sit down at the barn.  While there he saw an owl unnaturally floating in the air.  That owl spooked him so much he pulled out a gun and shot the owl.  When only the head fell with the body still floating he decided there must be something wrong with the barn and he high tailed it out of there.  As he said the next morning (when he was presumably sober), “there’s something wrong going on there.”

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Home Town Welcomes (@2013_bak)

Today’s highlight was Caldwell, KS.  After a moderately difficult 9 mile ride against the wind I was treated to small town hospitality found in The Nostalgia Nook.

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Outside the store cyclists were treated with inexpensive sandwiches, carrot sticks, drinks, and power bars.  Inside we were provided with air conditioning and grandmotherly care.  

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The Nostalgia Nook is a quaint antique store with a small coffee/sandwich shop in the back.  Several years ago the town’s local diner burned down, and the owner didnt want to start over after 20+ years of business.  So the owners of The Nostalgia Nook invited the diner owned to share the back room of the antique shop. 

It’s a great combination.  The little cooking area offers good ol’ fashioned coffee as well as skillet fried hamburgers, and cold cut sandwiches.  I’m not sure what else they serve because there isn’t a price, but with the grocery store across the street I bet you could order just about anything you remember being served by your grandmother. 

As for me I just wanted a veggie sandwich.  I was expecting a couple of pickles, a tomato, a slice of lettuce, and a couple rings of onion.  What I received was so much more and it only cost me $1.50. 

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However, it wasn’t just the food that made my experience special.  The owners treated us like family.  We were welcomed to draw water from the kitchen sink, take cubed ice from the top freezer, soak up the air conditioning, and partake in grandmotherly advice to stay safe. 

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Caldwell was so welcoming and invited us to visit again several times.  Its homey feeling made me a little sad to leave.  If I ever have another opportunity to visit I believe I shall.

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Knowing When to Call it a Day

My cycling day with the BAK started just before 7a.m. & ended at 4:30p.m.  The temps topped 100 & the cross winds were brutal.  We went through the Gypsum Hills and honestly I didn’t find them too challenging.  Don’t get me wrong I’m not a fan of hills, but these were different.  For every up hill struggle there was a neck breaking 30+ mile per hour down hill joy.

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It wasn’t until afternoon that I started feeling down.  Actually it started when I began fighting 30+ mile headwinds.  My head starting feeling prickly and I began to get the chills.  As soon as I made it to Attica I pulled into he SAG stop & told them about my chills.  They noticed the goosebumps.  I already knew it was time to call it, but they confirmed my thoughts.  So I relinquished my bike & rode back in luxury. 

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Now it’s just time to rest & enjoy the band playing for the cyclists.  Tomorrow is another day.

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Museums (@2013_bak)

One of my favorite family activities has always been visiting museum. Growing up my parents made a point of stopping at every little nook and cranny with a nugget of information they could find. I don’t know if their aim was education, because many museums are less expensive than amusement parks, or a little bit of both. Whatever the reason those trips instilled a love of the museum that hopefully passed onto my children.

Apparently that love (or at least a strong respect) of the museum is present within the BAK. Throughout the event several museums have offered free or reduced charge visits to cyclists. Today I took advantage of visiting a couple Greensburg, KS museums.
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Greensburg may be known for the May 4, 2007 tornado that almost wiped it off the map. It may even be known for their green recovery and sustainability plan .However, they should also be known for their resilience and the museums are part of that resilience.
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The first museum we visited was the Big Well. It boasts the worlds largest hand dug well. At 109 feet dug in 1888 it certainly is impressive. For many years it was the main water source for the town. That is until Kansas banned all open face wells in the 1930’s. A visit to this museum also features historical information of the town’s past as well as the town’s return from the devastating tornado. One of my favorite features was the public library’s one surviving artifact.
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The public library located in Greensburg is actually the county’s library. It features a media center, ice cream shop, and historical museum.
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Besides the yummy treats (which BTW they off an EF5 challenge) I was impressed with the effort put forth to share a little bit of everything the people of Kiowa County have experienced.
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Including how the first female sheriff purchase and used a Tommy Gun. Could you imagine seeing her come towards you after a long day of moonshining?
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The library was also phenomenal. Being a library geek I was delighted to see that they offered a media center
and called themselves a learning commons.
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Overall, Greensburg offers some fantastic opportunities to learn a little about the history of Western Kansas. It was a treat to take a little time from cycling to soak in the intellectual delights. Thank you BAK for providing museum opportunities for this lover of learning.