Two days ago I texted a friend telling him he's just so predictable and needs to add more spontaneity into his life. I was poking fun at my friend. The next day, yesterday, within a mile of starting my ride, Greg (a teacher) was on his morning walk with his coffee and asked me how many miles I planned to do yesterday. I said about 70 to Eureka. He said, "I'm Greg, a teacher and I'm trying to get out and ride more. I'm going to go grab my bike and catch up to you and ride 25 miles with you today, so I get in 50." I thought that was pretty bold, but, I thought, wow- awesome! Greg joined me about 10 miles in and we rode 15 more miles before coming up on Curt and Danielle (two of the 9 riders from the Wounded Warrior group- I mentioned them the other day). The 4 of us had a great day riding together. I even had 20 miles of tailwind at the end of the day! Greg was so spontaneous that he ended up joining us for the entire day and arranged for a ride this morning. He had no overnight gear with him. Now, that's awesome. Spontaneity, courage, being BOLD at its best.
The day before meeting Greg, I rode from Sterling to Newton. My colleague Gary English in Kentucky has a close friend from undergrad that lives in Newton with his wife. Pat and Pam are unbelievable! Retired (rock-star) educators, Pat began his career as an elementary PE teacher and became a nationally recognized Elementary Principal in Hesston Kansas. Pam was an elementary teacher and became very involved with student literacy. They own an 1884 Italianate Victorian in Newton that both have been working on (I'm giving Pam credit because she does a lot to support Pat's love for refurbishing, reclaiming and bringing that house to a condition related to the late 1800's- early 1900's). They are also collectors and have vintage cars, toy train sets, carved wood sculptures (many were created by Pam's father), light fixtures, art, furniture, etc. (see photos below. They did give me permission to take the photos of their home!). One of the best things about staying with Pat and Pam was that Pat is a cyclist and met me about 25 miles out of town and rode in with me. This is the 3rd time someone has met me riding in for the day and it always feels good to have a welcome party when I get into a town. Pat and I chatted education (of course!) and when I got to their home they showed me the lovely Carriage House, my 'space' for the next day or so. I showered and Pam made us a wonderful lunch (and dinner, and breakfast- she's an incredible cook and even made homemade Key Lime Pie!). I got a full tour of the house, the vintage cars and even Pat's 'man-cave' - his impressive wood and tool shop above where the vintage cars are stored. Dinner was homemade meatballs and spaghetti and their daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren came over for the homemade Key Lime. It was great to meet their family and their oldest son, Colin and I had a lot to chat about- he's apparently a strong soccer player and we talked not only soccer, but college basketball as well. He was NOT happy when he heard I was biking through Kentucky due to the Kansas loss to UK in 2012 in New Orleans for the NCAA National Championships. He wanted me to go bike around Kentucky, not go through it. He's only 8, so I tried to be sensitive but, I did have to rub in a little that I was at that game. Rooting for UK!
I left Pat and Pam's... although it would have been wonderful to stay for longer since I fully enjoyed their space and hospitality (Pam not only did my laundry, but folded it for me!), their love and encouragement and support.
That brings me to Greg a few blocks from Pat and Pam's. Yesterday's ride was hot, a bit windy at times. But like I mentioned, I had some tailwind... 20 miles of it. The grasshoppers are everywhere... they are large. I'm really hoping I don't get one in the mouth. While I ride, they hit my sunglasses, my legs, my arms. I need to remember to keep my mouth shut. It was really fun to ride with 3 other people and eat lunch together and stop for a mid-afternoon icie (push-up popsicle)! We ended our day in Eureka Kansas and camped in the City Park (Kansas has a law about allowing cyclists to camp in city parks in every town. Many have showers and a public pool). I jumped in the public pool, showered and we sat around camp, chilling. They made me a gin and tonic (in a pickle jar) and I was happy as a clam. The firefly's are out... a sure sign I'm making my way east. I'm currently in Espresso Creations, a coffee shop in Eureka with a few of the cycling crew catching up on email and plugging in devices. I'll probably ride with this group for a while. There's something really nice about riding with people again.