Ahhh, the smell of Garden City in the morning! No, it's not the smell of flowers, as the name might suggest. More like the smell of the stuff you put on your garden to make the flowers grow. Some call it "the smell of money." I'm talking about the smell of manure. It's seems inescapable in Garden City and the smell was strong this morning as I headed out on a 60-mile round trip bike ride to Ingalls, KS, on a stretch of the old Santa Fe Trail (now U.S. Hwy 50).
Fortunately it was a cool, still morning in Western Kansas. It can get pretty windy out here as the wind comes rushing o'er the plains. But the flag outside the Holiday Inn Express wasn't moving as I climbed on my Cannondale Road Warrior and headed southeast to Ingalls .
On the way to Ingalls I stopped at the scenic overlook at the Irsik & Doll Ingall's Feed Yard. As far as I know it is the only feedyard in the country with a scenic overlook! Thousands of head of cattle are fed out here before they go off to one of the processing facilities in the area to become beef. Cattle spend most of their lives grazing in pastures from Texas to Montana and from California to Florida. Some are "finished" on grass and are sold in restaurants as "grass fed beef" but most are finished at a feed lot on a high-quality feed ration consisting primarily of corn. This is what gives U.S. beef the great "corn fed" taste that is craved all over the world.
[For more information on grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef visit www.beeffrompasturetoplate.org]
Once in Ingalls, I rode to the house where my wife's grandmother and grandfather lived from 1957 until they both passed away in the 1980s. Nobody has lived in it since, but it is still in the family. As far as we know it was the first house built in Gray County (circa 1878) and was the home of D. Welborn "Doc" Barton, the man widely credited with bringing cattle to Western Kansas (from Texas) and sheriff of Gray County in the late 1800s. Leslie's Aunt Ida (pictured in front of the house) is working to get it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As you can see, it needs some fixing up and that would help!
After leaving Ingalls I hammered back to Garden City to join the Hazelton family reunion picnic at Finnup Park, home of the Lee Richardson Zoo and the world's largest, free, concrete, municipal swimming pool (more than half a city block!). We had barbecue beef brisket sandwiches for lunch that tasted great after my long ride and provided plenty of protein for my leg muscles to recover. Best of all, (yep, you guessed it), brisket is one of the 29 lean cuts of beef!
My legs felt very strong today and I averaged 17.0 mph for the ride, by far (>2 mph) my fastest ride this year! I feel very good about the progress I have made in the past two weeks and am ready for the Vineman 70.3 Ironman bike course, a 56-mile ride passing dozens of wineries (see map at left). It is supposed to be challenging, but not too difficult, with 1600 feet of climbing, including a 385-foot climb on Chalk Hill, which comes at 45 miles into the ride. I think my challenge will be to make sure I remember to save my legs for the 13.1 run that follows.