Newton man with Marion Co. ties set new bike record

Image by Eddie Ulloa
Image by Eddie Ulloa

For several years, Kevin Nickel, Newton had been considering riding across Kansas by bicycle. The World Ultra Cycling Association (WUCA) was keeping records and no one had finished a Kansas crossing from north to south. Nickel set the date of Dec 14  as the day to make this record-setting attempt.

Starting at the Nebraska border, north of Oberlin, he set out at 6:34 a.m. Following the rules of WUCA, his support car had two amber flashing lights and the car had to follow the bicycle closely until the sun came up, in order to protect the cyclist from traffic. “I was surprised that the ditches were still full of snow from the Nov. 25 blizzard, and the temperature was 19 degrees at that time of the day,” said Nickel.

U.S. Highway 83 has shouldered most of the way and traveling started smoothly. “There was a lot of truck traffic south of Oakley,” Nickel observed. The support crew of two, could drive beside the bicycle for only 15 seconds and hand the cyclist nutrient bars, or grab clothing that Nickel was beginning to shed as the temperatures warmed. An official, with an understanding of the rules of WUCA, also traveled in the vehicle with the support crew.

Nickel paid attention to his watch and checked his pace at 20-mile increments. He was pleased to see that it was close to one hour for each 20-mile segment. Since this route was a US highway, there were very few stop signs, so progress was efficient. Temperatures were increasing to 51 degrees as the crew worked its way through Garden City. Nearing the end of the trip, Nickel had to pause in Liberal at a stoplight. “It seemed that the stoplight took forever to turn green,” Nickel said, “and my crew told me that I only had 3.2 miles to go in order to finish the trip. They also told me that I had a good chance to keep the trip under 11 hours.” The sun had set by the time he passed through Liberal, so the amber lights on the support car came back on, and Nickel finished the trip at 5:28 p.m., in 10 hours 54 minutes, traversing 228 miles and setting the WUCA record. “I burned 6,500 calories in this all day event,” said Nickel.

What encouraged Nickel to attempt this record on Dec. 14? “It was two-fold,” said Nickel. “My church (Tabor Mennonite) is in the middle of an addition to the church building and I wanted to help raise money for the campaign, so I chose this eye-popping event and opened a Gofundme page to help raise money for the building project. The second reason was that this time of the year fit the schedule of my support crew and WUCA official.”

Nickel invites you to support his bike ride record through his online fundraiser for Tabor Mennonite Church at www.gofundme.com/kansas-bicycle-record-for-tabor-mennonite-church.

Sponsors help Nickel achieve this level of cycling success. Supporting him this year are Bicycle X-Change, First Gear Running Company, Eddie U. Massage Clinic, Bluestem Communities, and Pinnacle Rehabilitation and Sports Performance.

He is a Goessel High School and Tabor College graduate, now living in rural Newton.

Story and picture provided to the Free Press.