By Kert Emperado
Canadian, Texas to Liberal, Kansas that is. Today was different in many ways. For one, I was in the van for some Desitin therapy (get it?), while my fellow riders pedalled through the fastest 90+ miles of this cross-country trip so far, averaging 20-25 mph through mostly farm and oil wells country. It was beautiful! I have to admit, I was wishing that I was out there sharing the experience. Afterall, this was ideal cycling conditions. In fact, some of our riders were going so fast, they missed our big Fuller Center van&trailer to refuel on the best rest stop food and drink...ever! Never the less, all smiles all around as every rider made it to the Central Christian Church of Liberal City in record time. Entering the city and at a red light, we noticed what looked like one of those bronze painted street entertainers in full character, not even flinching from the bright sun and blustering breeze. Poor thing, there were hardly any pedestrians onthe streets, in this pickup-trucks kinda town, to give her some change. Turns out, it was only a statue of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. And the town has many Dorothy's scatterred about. We have just arrived in Kansas.
IN THE VAN
Being in the van today was a good change for me, as well as my co-vanners, Tom aka geezerman, Melissa (trip leader), Nadine (drag racer, photographer, and former best rest stop deli owner ;), and Midas (international intern, photographer), from the Netherlands. Tom, 71 years young is also not used to riding in the van. All of 2012, Tom put in an excess of 7000 miles on his pink beauty. Melissa, our very organized and dedicated (volunteer) trip leader needed some time off the bike to rest a bit. I'm sure she'll be back on her new saddle and shoes tomorrow. Go Melissa! Midas and Nadine had a chance to stop 'fighting' like siblings with other people around. Just kidding you two.
At first it was strange to be part of the support crew rather than being a rider. But, I really enjoyed experiencing this side of the adventure. Seeing the riders off at sunrise was so exciting. They were all in bike shorts and bright orange jerseys. So professional looking! Passing the riders as they gave a wave or thumbs up, and seeing them pedal their hearts out for this mission to help provide adequate housing for the needy was really moving to me! At the 20 mile rest stops, everyone was pumped and raved about the gorgeous weather and beneficial tale wind. Hundreds of pb&j sandwiches were already eaten througout the first three weeks, but the riders still love 'em. Let's try adding turkey slices to the mix. Doritos, yes as well. Melissa and I were the deli operators and chefs, while Nadine and Midas, snapped yet another bunch of new memorable pictures. They are a great team! Tom, was our biggest cheerleader and inspiration. As riders arrived at the rest stop, he clapped and gave them words of encouragement, and even offered to park their bikes. Did I tell you he is 71!? Go Tom!
In between all our hard rest stop duties, we entertained ourselves with tractors, pigs, crawfish pockets, saddle jokes, and the occassional 'serious' conversation.
Great and Pizzaful day!!! Special thanks to Chris Krall, a fellow Pennsylvanian, who fed the entire team with assorted pizzas that should last for a lifetime. And he did that from Scranton. (Hint Hint family and friends ;)