The Heat is On (Day Thirty-Three)
Mama Bear (AKA ‘Mom’, AKA ‘Karen Mincio’, AKA ‘Kevin’s mother’) said, “You know what? The hottest city in America yesterday, at 112 degrees, was Hutchinson, Kansas”. I replied, “Oh, that’s pretty hot! So, where are we going today, again?” “Hutchinson, Kansas”, she replied. And there it began.
The Ridettes had left town, and so once again the Team Jesse Ride team was a two-person contingent, though we were still blessed with the World-Class SAG crew of Mama and Papa Bear.
After a pre-arranged roadside meeting with a reporter from the Great Bend Tribune, we headed again towards our destination. Before long, we were offered a great risk/reward scenario: we could take a road that went through some wetlands/wildlife preserves and in doing so, cut a few miles and also have more scenic view. Also, the road would be protected, as there was no commercial through-way allowed on this stretch. The drawback was that the road itself was not showing up on the atlas or the GPS. “Matty-boy, we’re definitely off the beaten path this time! This street isn’t even on the maps”, said The Sarge. Turned out to be a risk worth taking. Tranquil back roads exposed the expansive beauties of Kansas. The ranches, farms and hidden ponds we saw breathed of contentment, of serenity. If they were personified, they’d be a recently retired schoolteacher, and a very good one at that. One that had known that (s)he had inspired many, and took enough risks to be creative with the system, yet consistently set a great example from those who took class. One that was happy to be right where they were, and still vibrant enough to have a sense of humor as well as the warmth to invite others.
There were no trucks to ruin the intimacy and silence, just birds and breeze filled the air with their sounds. We took turns sitting on the couch (a phrase to describe the person who is drafting the other) and soaking it all in. For me, it was a glimpse of hope, as I allowed myself the indulgence of dreams. Some were, of course, accompanied with obstacles and worry, their natural predators. Seeing both sides was enlightening, particularly the way that it happened ; see, it was very new to me to allow them to co-exist. I was anxious for nothing and didn’t feel compelled to try and ‘solve’ anything. I just…’was’. Maybe it was the heat, or maybe the early Midwest is turning me into a hermit. All I know for sure is that I glanced up at a road sign, only to find that we were on a part of the path that was entitled ‘Peace Rd.’. It can be said that we all draw to ourselves those things that we are seeking. I was on Peace Road! Just sayin…
We passed some cows that were crowded into a grove-provided shade. They all turned their heads to follow us as we smiled through. They were dairy cows on a peaceful, family style ranch. They too seemed peaceful, and their disposition was a breath of fresh air (literally as well as figuratively) in comparison to those cattle we saw at the ‘beef rendering camps’ that we had seen days earlier. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the opportunities shown to the laid-back dairy cow are favorable to the packed, fly-swarmed herds that we saw in the Western part of the state. I’d rather be a dairy cow. Actually, scratch that – I’d be a bull, and one only had to…make other cows. Yeah, I’d even act all mellow so that no one tried to put me in a rodeo, or worse, a bullfighting arena. See? I figured all of this out today, and it will no doubt prove helpful in case I ever am transferred to being a part of the cattle family.
With temps reaching 106 today, Kevin was looking out, proactively, to make sure that there wouldn’t be any heat exhaustion issues (again). His relative shrewdness in doing so was in stark contrast to his reasons for doing so. He was concerned, so he didn’t see politeness as a worthy obstacle for making sure he was on top of it. I appreciated it in the end, and even during the ride. It reminded me of our ‘rest day’ (they’re never restful, BTW) when he abruptly disrupted (only briefly, though, inhis defense) our tour of Fort Larned so that he could procure something from the gift shop. If the others present were thinking like I was, I forgave him immediately. He wanted to buy a book for Amaya Williams, who had never been through this historically-rich part of our country. He wanted to provide the opportunity for her to experience it, even if only through a book. What I noticed, though, is that Amaya wasn’t the only one t gain opportunity that day; Kevin also grew, as he was afforded the contentment and satisfaction that can only come from doing good. Hmmm…
Our last SAG stop was on the side of the road; there was no other place for Papa Bear to pull over. It was scorching hot, and he knew we needed water. The last swig of what I had was probably 115 degrees, as it was just getting magnified into my bottle, no breeze to give it a break. They had stopped in front of a farm home that was at an intersection. It had an American flag hanging from the stoop, which we later found out to be the reason for the selection. When the kind woman came out with her son (Gayle and Mark Mathes were their names), we found out that her two other sons (older, obviously, as Mark will be going into 5th grade next year) were serving in the US Marine Corps, and both had served in Iraq.
With a quickness, she instructed young Mark to grab some lawn chairs from around back, and pull them into under a shady tree, along with a hose for us to use to cool down. Did I mention that it’s all about the people??
The escort into town was not to be believed. Three motorcycle officers, three squad cars, an additional unmarked car and three fire trucks all played roles in getting us as well as our accompanying America Legion Motorcycle riders into the downtown area. The City Manager, Deputy Mayor and council members and senior officers from the Police and Fire departments greeted us as we rolled into our requested venue: a bike shop where we could get some proactive maintenance done. They were all smiles, showing teeth all the way around as they proclaimed, with a plaque, the day to be Team Jesse Day. Personally, I very much appreciated that they had named Kevin in the document, and referenced his enlistment and sacrifices. Class act, Hutchinson. My friend stepped up after 9/11, and you did today as well. Thanks.
They were kind enough to give us the Key to the City as well! We only have it for 24 hours, though, which is too bad. We’ll only be here for 12 or so. It’s just as well, though, because those keys could get a fella in trouble! And…I hear that it’s supposed to be hot tomorrow. May just have an opportunity to try some new heat management techniques shown by Max Durtschi, our new advisor, a pro rider and USA Cycling Team member. It’d be rude not to try them! With the course boasting 108 miles and temperatures of 105 degrees, it would also be stupid to no try them. One thing that’s for sure is that, no matter how this things turns out on the fundraising side, there will be no one that can say we didn’t try.
For the Families of the Fallen…To the Limit!
Care Creates Community,