TransAmerica Route 2008: Olathe Loves the Journey of Hope

Also, I knew that Tom Kilpatrick, a family friend of mine from Oklahoma City who helped me train before the summer started, was going to join us for a ride-a-long and I was eager to have him meet the great group of guys that are on the team and hopefully show him a good time throughout the day. Jonathan Leffler from the Eta Gamma Chapter helped get the morning started off well by providing a nice breakfast of fruit and pastries so we got to enjoy a little bit better breakfast than usual as the sun came up.

We started the ride off this morning with a nice 18% grade hill. Jay originally had another route planned for us but when he mentioned that he had scouted one with such a steep incline, that was only about 100 yards long, we all knew that we had to do it. With the exception of myself, everyone made it up successfully and celebrated at the top. I had a poor strategy of starting with too large of a gear and could not shift down soon enough so after I stopped in the middle of the hill I had to unclip and walk the last little bit. I learned my lesson though and will not make the same mistake again.

Riding into Lawrence was great because for the first time on the trip, I actually knew where I was. Unfortunately, we were unable to ride through the middle of campus due to some construction but we did get to see part of campus and the detour we made went by the stadium and a nice residential area so it was a close second. When we got to the house the Schoenfelders and our house mom, Sherry Head, were waiting to greet us with fresh fruit and granola bars so that was nice and refreshing. The other KU guys and I showed everyone around the house and hopefully they all liked it. We couldn’t stay too long since we had to get to Olathe for our arrival so we got in a quick picture after the tours and got back on the road.

For most of the way to Olathe we had a nice tail wind so we were moving along a pretty quick pace. When my group got to the crew stop around mile 50 we found out that we only had a little over 10 miles to go instead of 20-25 like we thought so we were very relieved to hear that. The other thing we didn’t know was that there were two of the largest hills of the trip at the end of those ten miles. We all pushed through them and I found that shifting to an easier gear earlier worked much better than trying to crank your way up in one of your bigger rings.

The arrival into the Mahaffie Stage Coach in Olathe was one of the best that we have had so far and we definitely had the largest crowd of the trip waiting to greet us. After taking a picture we all went inside and Robert Maile from the Kansas School for the Deaf told us all the great things that lay ahead of us in Olathe. To our surprise we found out that we had Jason’s Deli for lunch, our own beds and showers at lodging, two sports therapy masseuses to help with our sore muscles and two steak dinners all waiting for us. On top of all this, the city of Olathe said that today, July 20, 2008, would officially be Push America Day. We were very honored by this and impressed once again by the hospitality of the citizens of Kansas.

For dinner we went to Kirk & Diana Wulff’s household and they and my parents, the Noltings, had prepared a great steak dinner that we all enjoyed. It was great getting to see my family again and it made me realize how far we have come on this trip. After dinner we all went swimming and got to end the long hot day in a nice cool pool.

Stephen Sanger
Theta Epsilon – Kansas University