Picnic held to honor long-distance
By Kerma Crouse
On Saturday, more than 50 people gathered in the Jewell City Park for a picnic to celebrate Larry Haskett's 70th birthday. But it was also to review and celebrate Jake Haskett's, "The Ride."
"The Ride" began as an idea at CrossFit in Beloit, where Jake Haskett worked out. One of his friends at CrossFit was Demaris Niewald, who was battling cancer.
The owner, Clint Horinek, was also a friend and so was his little son, Benedict. Benedict was battling a rare eye cancer. Haskett wanted to help both friends and the idea of a benefit bike ride was born.
The best time for Haskett to take three months off work was winter when his landscaping business was at a yearly lull. Plans were made to take off on a 3,700 mile ride across the southern United States on Jan. 4. Having never been on a long bike ride, not even Bike Across Kansas, Haskett's first long trip was going to be a really long one.
Haskett said Santa Cruz, Calif., is the headquarters of CrossFit, so it seemed like a natural starting point, since CrossFit was a major supporter of Haskett on his trek across the United States. As the start date loomed, he make his way to Santa Cruz.
Clint Horinek was in charge of arrangements. He located the CrossFit centers where Haskett would stop each day. He had about a third of the trip planned by the Jan. 4 start date, and he worked to fill in the rest of the trip as "The Ride" progressed.
For the majority of the trip, Haskett simply rode from one CrossFit Center to the next. Well, "simply" is not really the correct word as riding 50 to 75 miles a day is not so simple. Yes, the first two 25 mile days of the trip might have been described as "simple," however, with the regular grind of riding twice that many miles or more each day, achy knees and sore muscles set it.
Haskett noted, "It took until Waco, Texas, for the aches and pains to go away." But did he have thoughts of quitting? No, he "never thought but what I'd make it." He did take two days to rest at Waco. His general plan, used for the rest of the trip, was to rest one day a week.
If one is going out on a nearly 4,000 mile ride, what kind of a bike is needed? The answer to that question was supplied by John McClure of Blue Hill Bikes and Tours in Osborne. McClure, who attended the celebration, was instrumental in getting Haskett the right bike for the trip. That bike turned out to be a Janis Aurora.
The Aurora model is a touring bike. Touring bikes are for touring, meaning long distance riding. They are lighter than mountain bikes but heavier than racing bikes. They are built to be more comfortable than the other bikes over the long distances they will be ridden.
The Aurora served the purpose well. It made the trip in fine shape, still with the original front tire! The back tire, which wears out more quickly, is another story. Haskett is on the fourth back tire.
When asked what the best part of the trip was, Haskett was quick to answer: "The people." As he rode from CrossFit to CrossFit, he met people, a lot of people. Those people just "took me in." Places to sleep, pot luck suppers, massages, work out facilities, bike repairs, all from friendly people he'd never met but was glad to meet.
Another wonderful part of the trip revolved around Benedict Horinek and Damaris Niewald. By the time Haskett arrived home on March 23, both were found to be cancer free!
Two year old Benedict Horinek attended the picnic with his family. His mother, Sarah Horinek, confirmed that he is cancer free. However, little Benedict faces other health issues. He deals with 13 Q Deletion Syndrome. This means his 13th chromosome is missing a section and a major result is developmental delays. Each day is dealt with as it comes, but being cancer free is a significant blessing.
Haskett also talked about some of the unique experiences he had on the trip. One was when he tried to bike through NASA. He was asked politely what he was doing and did manage to convince the officers that he just wanted to see NASA as part of his cross-country bike ride. They explained about the "No Bikes" rule on the site. Haskett's bike left the site in a police pickup and Haskett in the back seat of a patrol car.
Mexico was another experience. Haskett was out of the United States for about 15 minutes. Just long enough to film his daily report. But, crossing the border was "No problem at all. Nobody else was there."
Then though "scared of heights," in Florida, Haskett treated himself to an 18,000 foot skydive. The man "loves a challenge."
A real challenge was getting to Jacksonville, Fla., in time for the CrossFit Open Cool Down Show. Haskett said they didn't find out about it until about a week before it happened. To make the show, which he did, Haskett had to ride 800 miles in seven days. One day, he made 130 miles the longest day of "The Ride."
With so many positive experiences, were there any negative ones? "Not really. I only recall being pushed off the road once." It seemed to this reporter that once in 3,700 miles was good. Haskett's comment: "I think it was really good!"
So what biking challenge is he thinking of next? Haskett thought just a second before mentioning the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail. When? "Maybe in a couple of years." John McClure was quick to list several shorter bike trips, including Bike Across Kansas. Haskett agreed BAK would be a good choice.
Time will tell, but it is almost too soon to be planning another trip. Haskett said it has taken until just recently to feel normal again. When he first got back there was "nothing there" and he couldn't even work out. Now, feeling better, he works out around three times a week.
What about the Aurora, would he ride it? Haskett noted that he hadn't ridden the Aurora since he got home. "I haven't been on it," he said. "It is special. It made the trip. I might just hang it on the wall." Besides that, the Appalachian Trial would require a different type of bike. Probably then, for any new trek, a discussion with McClure would result in a new bike. A bike specifically for whatever trek is planned.
So, "The Ride" is history. It was a 3,700 mile, Santa Cruz, Calif., to Orlando, Fla., adventure. Many experiences, but people were the important thing about the trip. The people along the way were part of the adventure but the reasons for the trip were the two special people at home, Benedict Horinek and Damaris Niewald. Benedict and Damaris are cancer free and "The Ride" raised more than $20,000 to help them out. As Jewell resident, Linda Woerner, put it: "Jake, we're proud of you!"
New Kansas bicycle
Whether to see designated bike routes in 19 cities in Kansas, traffic volumes along state routes or which county routes are paved, the new 2016-17 Kansas bicycle map will help bicycle riders plan their trips.
"This map provides so much information that is specifically geared toward bicyclists," said Matt Messina, KDOT bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. "Its contents include bicycling statutes, safety tips, suggested routes, future projects and more all in one publication. It is a great resource for all bicyclists from beginners to extreme enthusiasts."
The highways available for bicycles are color-coded by traffic volume. No traffic volumes are shown on the map on interstate routes as bicycling on interstates in Kansas is against the law.
New features to this year's map include the Land and Sky Scenic Byway in the western part of the state and the inclusion of 487 miles of U.S. Bicycle Route 76 (USBR 76), which was designated in Kansas last fall. Pittsburg's city inset was also added to the back of the map.
Maps are available free of charge and can be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (785) 296-8593. For more information, visit www.ksdot.org/bikeped.
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