Polar Explorer Eric Larsen
Day 1: KansATHON
Eric Larsen
24 June 2020 | Kansas
With nothing left to pack, I picked up Tanner (my intern) and drove East toward Denver. After a quick rendezvous, with Gus (my old intern and NewYorkATHON partner) and his gear we were off, driving through eastern Colorado. For the past week, I had been nervous about our trip across Kansas with so many unknowns about the terrain and weather, but now with the border fast approaching, I was excited. I like going into the unknown (to me).

A few years ago I had a crazy idea to traverse Colorado as an outdoor-sports triathlon of sorts. It would be a throwback to how I originally got into adventuring as a kid. The trip turned out to be really challenging and really fun and, as a result, the United States of Adventure was born. A somewhat focused effort to do these â??three sport border to border human powered traversesâ?? of each state. So far, Iâ??ve completed Colorado, Wisconsin and New York.

As I mentioned, the goal of these journeys is to have a broader discussion about adventure and the fact that you really can find it everywhere. Especially Kansas. Itâ??s also an opportunity for me to partake in a physically challenging adventure while seeing a bunch of other laces that I normally might not go.

When we stopped at the border, we were immediately greeted by a throng of biting flies. A rain squall simultaneously arrived out of nowhere so we spent the next 20 minutes rigging our Topeak bike packing bags onto our Trek bikes while dancing around raindrops and cursing the flies.

The flies were so bad that our picture at the state line lasted three seconds. I had wanted to record a little video, but the blood thirsty vampire flies attacking me quickly changed my mind.

The first miles were truly incredible. Our bikes were dialed and it felt like we were flying. Then, the headwind kicked in and brought us back down to reality. Today would be a grind.

But despite the effort, we rode awestruck at the expanse of the landscape. It reminded me of Antarctica (without the snow). Gus remarked at the contrast of green pastures and golden wheat fields. Big and small rigs all gave us a wide berth as we cranked away the miles. Our path lie East on one of the straightest roads Iâ??ve ever traveled.

Because I had only left Crested Butte that morning, we were only able to start riding at 3 pm, but we pushed hard to make miles. I put a fairly strict time constraint on these trips so itâ??s generally a non stop hustle (read: effort).

Several hours later, as a big yellow sum dripped into the horizon, we found an old section of road parallel to the highway - roughly 100 feet from the main road. (One of my superpowers is being able to find places to camp pretty much anywhere.) We snuck in behind a few large piles of dirt and had Tanner (and our support vehicle) slide in along side as well. With cars wizzing by every so often, we were completely hidden from the road. Miraculously, the flies that had tortured us at every stop somehow disappeared and we relaxed in the warm humid air while watching darkness descend over the seemingly endless wheat fields.

It was an A plus day. Thank you Kansas!
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