Day 1: High Water detour, Newton to Sterling, KS

After a short night (of course we were up till midnight…) the alarm went off at 6:15, hopefully enough time to finish all the niggling details before leaving our house and cats in someone else’s hands and getting on the bike to ride 2007 miles. I washed our sheets and towels, checked my list, swept the floors one last time, locked all the accessible windows, took a shower, checked my list… Our Sunday School class was arriving at 8 with breakfast, bless their hearts! About 40 people showed up to see us off with full hearts and bellies and their prayers for our safety.

“Riding Tandem Through Life”

We left at 9:30 AM, only half an hour later than planned. Not bad. Several people rode with us, Kathleen and Mike to Meridian, Marlene as far as Ridge Road and Elena, Leroy and Gary all the way to Hesston where we stopped to say a quick good-bye to my parents in the nursing home.

Gary I. & Kathleen N.

Dave & Cookie W & Marlene B

Ride sponsor Leroy Hershberger & Elena E

Saying Goodbye to Cookie’s dad and mom at Schowalter Villa in Hesston.

Then, it was off on our own. It wasn’t as hard as I had expected to get on the bike with our 65 + pounds of gear and with as little training as we had done. Just to see if we could, we had cranked it up to 20 mph – for a very short distance. Things went well until we got to Buhler. Though everything was closed on Memorial Day, we did find out that Dutch between Buhler and Medora was flooded and that Nickerson was inaccessible as well. At that point, our options were to head for Inman and possibly still not be able to get through, or turn south (the wrong direction!) to 30th and go up through Hutch.

Not being sure about getting past Inman, we headed south, followed 30th all the way through Hutch. In Hutch, we stopped at a subway for lunch and met the Goerings, from South Hutch Mennonite church, who donated $20 for our ride costs. When asked, a local biker said we’d have to turn south again on the west edge of Hutch to get around the water. We turned north on Hendricks and took our chances. Another local biker said it looked like 82nd was open. 82nd was back on route. Whew. A mile later, the road was closed after all.

A truck came by and said it was not flooded, just covered with debris. We made it all the way into Nickerson without any problems. But, oh the flooding! Not sure our pictures will quite convey the amount of water out there.

We stopped at the grocery store where the cashier said there was a British couple in the park – so of course, we had to go meet them.

Colin and Sue are from Bristow, England. After visiting and snacking on bananas and English muffins with P&J, we decided to head onto Sterling for the night. At the city park in Sterling, we met brothers Aaron and JJ, Aaron’s wife was letting him do this just two months after the wedding.

Dave cooked on our nifty little penny alcohol stove that he had made out of an aluminum can. It burns heet, the gasoline additive available in any convenience store. The wind was a problem cooking tonight. He’d forgotten to make a wind shield and the cardboard didn’t work too well, so we gathered beer cans after our neighbors were done with them and Dave made one for tomorrow.

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