Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day 26 - Great Bend, KS to McPherson, KS

It's Race Day -- And the end of the first half! Leaving Great Bend this morning, Chris, Chuck and I had an idea. "Let's beat Tom to the hotel today!" You see, Tom has consistently been the first rider to the hotel nearly every single day for the past 26 days. He gets out in front, never stops, and always arrives to the hotel before anyone else. Personally, I don't see the appeal in riding so fast every day. But, we thought for once it would be fun to challenge Tom. It almost was fun.

At mile 3, we caught Tom and Sean. We followed Tom's wheel and let him do the work. A few miles later, Sean dropped off the line and never caught us until the SAG. So, I sat on Tom's wheel for the next 23 miles with Chris and Chuck right behind me. Tom is a strong rider. He's about 60, but behaves much younger (much younger... like a teenager). We were quite happy to share in the pulling, but he never left the front of the line. So, we let him do all the work since the winds were in our faces all day blowing hard from the East.

About one mile from our SAG stop, Chuck got out in front and declared, "Tom, I'll get out in front and pull since you've been doing all the work!" Tom knew Chuck was trying to beat him to the SAG stop and wouldn't let him. He dashed out and kept pace with Chuck. Now Chris was next, "No, Tom, I'll pull for awhile!" And Chris tried to lead out. The problem was, both of these guys were breaking too early. In cycling race strategy, you never want to sprint for the line too early. A stronger sprinter will follow your wheel and then attack at the last minute, slingshotting around you and beating you to the line. I was the stronger sprinter.

After Chris attacked, I got on his wheel and waited for the SAG stop to come in view. As soon as I saw it--about 200 yards away--I sprinted, slingshotting around Chris and leaving all three of them in the dust. When I looked back, I had a solid 50 yard lead on them. I pulled into the SAG stop, raised my hands in victory, and celebrated by being the first to sign the clipboard next to my name. The other three pulled in after me and complained about my "younger legs." I guess I can't brag too much. Chuck is in his mid-50s, and Chris and Tom are late 50s, early 60s. So, a 39 year-old beat three grey hairs. Still, it was fun to show off a little and see how all this cycling has strengthened those fast-twitch muscles.

When we left the SAG stop, we let Tom join our paceline and we shared the load with one-mile pulls each. The problem began when Chris would take the front of the line and increase the pace by two miles per hour. I don't know if this was strategy or a rookie mistake. A lot of cyclists new to pacelines will make the mistake of speeding up whenever they get to the front of the line. They get excited about taking their turn and as a result, they speed up. So, every time Chris sped up, I had to sprint to catch the back of the line. That got wearisome really quickly. By mile 48 I had had enough and I dropped off the paceline and let those three duke it out.

Now as I cycled the remaining 16 miles alone, I had time to reflect on this ride. Today marks the end of our first half of the ride. Tomorrow we'll meet our midway point and begin the second half of our Cross Country Challenge. So here in the middle of the continent was a fitting time and place to think about why I'm doing this and praying for those that this ride benefits. Most of you know that I'm calling this the Ride for Impact. When I began planning this cross country tour, I didn't want it to be just a glorified vacation... I wanted to add greater purpose to it.

Therefore, I selected IMPACT Ministries, in Bellevue, WA, as the organization I wanted to raise funds for. IMPACT Ministries (International Missions Projects and Construction Teams) is a global relief and Christian missions agency. In August, 2002, I made my first overseas mission trip to Manila, Philippines. On this trip, I saw firsthand, how the poorest of the poor lived. Children playing and living in slums and squatter villages, families working in garbage dumps to make enough money for a day’s meal, houses not bigger than a closet as a home for as many as seven people... these were the images and experiences burned into my soul.

On two subsequent trips to Manila, as well as a family mission trip in 2007 to build homes for impoverished families in Ensenada, Mexico, my heart to meet the needs of those around our globe who need our help most, has only intensified. That's why I wanted to help IMPACT. I set a goal to raise $20,000 for IMPACT Ministries so they could support missionaries and missions work serving the poorest of the poor across the globe.

At present, we've raised $9,620. Not only am I halfway across the U.S., I'm nearly halfway toward my goal of $20,000. So, I would like to ask you for your help. I'd like to reach $10,000 in the next day or two and get halfway toward my goal as we meet our halfway point of this ride. If you've been following my blog, laughing at my stories, engaged by my descriptions, interested in my recaps, would you please prayerfully consider supporting me and IMPACT? Even a small gift of $5 or $10 is going to make a difference. In fact, if just 40 of you gave a $10 gift, I'd meet the halfway goal. All you have to do is visit and click on "How You Can Help." There, you can make on online donation or mail a check. I would greatly appreciate you taking the time and making the investment. It WILL change lives. It WILL make an IMPACT!

Now, back to the ride. I rode through small towns like Ellinwood, Lyons, and Conway and then reached the McPherson town line. Riding through McPherson, I spotted Tom coming along a downtown street. It appeared that he had given up the hunt and left Chris and Chuck to ride to the hotel alone. When I reached the hotel, I was the third to arrive. Chris and Chuck were sitting in the lobby well aware that the rooms wouldn't be ready for another hour or two. I congratulated them, gave Chris a drubbing for his race strategy and dropping me, and we all laughed and went to lunch. I don't think I'll be racing to the hotel ever again during this tour, but it was fun for today and added some excitement to Kansas. And some days, you need to add a little excitement... just to make an IMPACT!

Tomorrow, we'll have another short ride of 64 miles to Abilene, KS. Just three more days of riding in Kansas! Darn!

For a few more photos of today's "race to McPherson," visit

For more information and to add your support for the Ride for Impact, please visit

Dist: 65.21
Time: 3:54:40
Avg: 16.6
Max: 30.0
Cumulative Miles: 1935
Cumulative Flats: 5
Elev Gain: 546 ft.
Max Elev: 2370 ft.
Avg Climb: 1%
Max Climb: 4%

1 comment:

Kristin said...

That racing strategy is getting you ready for the TdF, Bob! Nicely done - Praise God for you today!