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Wichita – 1

We rode from Kansas City to Wichita and back for the Kansas Recovery Conference

WHAT KANSAS IS REALLY LIKE – The state is extremely rural. We traveled for hours at a time without passing any sort of town or city. Each small place we came to seemed really big and important after finding that it was three hours from the last gas station. People were a little more reticent to talk to us but once we started conversations they were pretty interested. The small towns have a lot of history. The flinthills are really beautiful.

RANDOM FINDINGS – Along the side of the road we saw a foam floating pool toy, a couch seat, a paintbrush, a scrubbrush, and a wire brush, an atlas (we picked this up), about four ball caps, five or six single gloves, a stuffed bear, and a small red rubber ball. How does this stuff get there? Then the time we rode by 50 cows and every single one of them stopped to watch us go by. There were the horses who raced us up the hill and won.

FRIENDLY HELPERS – People along the way really respect transportational bicycling and would go out of their way to help us. I starting giving people poetry books as a thank you. The lady who let us sit in the air conditioned liquor store in Eureka and use her bathroom, get water and eat a snack. The Benders who let us shelter in their barn during the tornado. The Greenwood county sheriff, Jim, who pulled me over to tell me that he, too was a cyclist and liked what we were doing. The Great Harvest Bread Company who gave us three free loaves of excellent homemade bread for our journey home. Mondo, the guy who lived at the lake who shared his firewood with us. The road cyclist, William Turner, who found us on our last leg of the journey and told us about the bike stores in Wichita. The farmer near Americus, Bryan, who let us sit in the shade in his driveway while my ride parter, Brian, worked on his bike. The Clinton state park ranger who got out of his camper at 10:00 pm to give us duct tape for Brian’s trailer.

THE SILENCE – Some of the paved roads we were on were so quiet that a car would only pass us once
every five minutes. We turned off of one of these very quiet paved road and got a a gravel road that was completely still, going through the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. We stopped for Brian to fix a flat and the only thing we heard for 30 minutes was birds singing and the wind vibrating and resonating through a hollow cottonwood tree.

THE RELAXATION AFTERWARDS – I came back with some kind of Zen state. I was so tired that I didn’t argue with anyone at work for four whole days. I felt very complacent and compliant and “whatever.” It was like being on Valium complete with the euphoria, sleepiness, and disinterest. The only difference was that I could still get the important stuff done. It felt really good for a change not to be hypermotivated, driven, ambitious, and unsatisfied. I didn’t set out for this trip to be a mindfulness exercise but it seemed to end that way.

Poem called “What I Learned By Riding My Bicycle From Kansas City to Wichita”

The horizon I can never reach
This space within me, the peace not to achieve
The stillness to breathe and just be
Stopped for a flat on road FF through the tall grass prairie prevserve
Thirty minutes listening to the wind resonating through the cottonwood.
The silence of the landscape, the hollow boom of the tree vibrating
Harmonic pulsing waves through the grasses
The masses all gone except for the birds singing for the flowers
My powers all come to naught in this moment.
All that I’ve fought my creator can own it.
The productivity I’ve sought – maybe I’ve outgrown it.