Day 28 – 90 miles to Manhattan, Kansas

Today is dedicated to all the amazing staff, students, and community of Kensico School in my hometown of Valhalla, NY.  I was the first graduating class of the 11 year old school, it being my elementary school and home to many memories.  Everyone pitched in for my ride, throwing fundraisers and spreading my story, helping me raise over $900 for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.  Mr. Wright’s class specifically have been following my blog and marking where I am on a map each day.  Everyone there is all so selfless, generous, and inspiring.  I am so proud to have come from Kensico School.  Major thanks to Principal Matt Curran (who was my 5th grade teacher at the time).

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Teams were made based on beer types – I was on Team Coors with Erica, Tyler, and both Stephs.

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We all agreed we needed a coffee stop before we took off, so we headed to the local Starbucks.  After yesterday’s solid day, I decided to continue the trend and get an iced mocha.  Again, delicious.  Now let’s see if it yields just as good a day as yesterday…

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To start, the weather did not look too good.  Thunderstorms were expected throughout the day.  And since we’re in Kansas, we worried about tornados.  We didn’t really discuss tornado protocol when the trip started, but now that we’re in the middle of the country, everyone was uneasy.

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About 18 miles into the ride, I heard a loud “PSHHH” and continual air release – I blew another tire.  So, it’s in the van for me until lunch where I can get a spare tire from the host van, who were currently acquiring food donations.  Lauren also blew a tire, so we joined Adam and AK who were driving for the day.

And though we couldn’t ride for a bit, we made the best of it.  Lauren and I were dancing and singing in the van, yelling out the windows as we passed riders.  At water stops, we blasted music, dancing in the streets, doing cartwheels, singing, and being stupid.  Even though we weren’t burning thousands of calories on the bikes, we made up for it at the water stops.

At lunch, Jeff and Kos repaired my tire while I scarfed down lunch – salad from Olive Garden and leftover steak from last night.  With 28 miles to go, I joined my team.  For about 10 of those miles, it was pouring rain.  My sunglasses were blurry, my clothes were soaked, and my shoes sloshed around with puddles of water, making me feel 50 pounds heavier.

When we rolled into the First United Episcopal Church in Manhattan, Kansas, we were greeted by chalking everywhere.  Bike and Build, a team of cross-country cyclists associated with Habitat for Humanity, had decorated the sidewalks in chalk drawings and writings.  We would be staying with them for the night.  We had dinner together and hung out for a bit.  It was nice to see different faces, but also be able to bond over cycling the country.

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The boys of our team also administered a test to our girls.  We are planning 4K Prom with Team Portland in Boulder, Colorado.  Their girls are asking our guys, and our girls are asking their guys.  In order to create an selection system, we put together a fun test with all kinds of stupid questions relating to our guys, the 4K, and random knowledge.  Carissa and Rachel Eddy took first place and have first choice!

So while our route was 90 miles, I only rode 46 of them.  I made a promise to myself that I would never quit.  I never want to be in the van except when I am assigned to drive.  The other times I will be riding in the van is if I get physically hurt, cannot ride my bike or if someone makes the call for me.  I was definitely bummed to not be able to ride the full day, but I had no control over my tire popping.  Van days can be fun and relaxing, but I am here to ride.

Michael

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