GOESSEL — Kevin Nickel is familiar with athletic pursuits — he regularly trains for triathlons and is currently planning to run “the Neuf,” a 9K race at Bethel College next month.
Some of those pursuits prepared him to set a record — the fastest bicycle ride to cross Kansas from north to south. He established that record Dec. 14, cycling 228 miles in 10 hours and 54 minutes.
“This is out the realm of my normal, but it is part of the endurance and adventure side that I tend to lean toward,” Nickel said.
He makes it clear that there was no record prior to his ride — that what he did was to establish the Kansas north to south record for the World Ultra Cycling Association. The association recognizes records for all four directions to cross the state, and does so for all 50 states.
“It feels good,” Nickel said. “It was establishing the record, there was not a previous mark to set, but I was still pushing. My goal was to establish it as low as possible and go as fast as I could.”
His top speed during the ride was 36 miles per hour. He averaged 20.8 miles per hour. He stopped just once to take a bathroom break. He ate while riding, even taking of extra layers of clothing as the weather warmed while still pedaling his bicycle.
His record was certified by his cousin and a crew member as required by the rules of the World Ultra Cycling Association.
Nickel started near Oberlin and finished south of Liberal — and he did it in December, not a month normally associated with cycling in Kansas.
“The timing worked for my crew that included my dad, Elton Nickel who just retired; my cousin Adrian who acted as the WUCA official; and crew member Dawson Duerkson of Goessel,” Kevin Nickel said. “The concern of doing it this time of year was weather … It was nice to get out there. We had a light tail breeze from the northwest. It was cold, about 19 degrees. I dressed warm and it warmed up during the day.”
The ride was not only about personal records or gain — Nickel raised nearly $3,000 via a gofundme webpage for a building expansion project at Tabor Mennonite Church of rural Newton.
“We started a building expansion project not too long ago and are still fundraising as we begin building,” Nickel said. “Our kids programs have expanded, especially our Wednesday night program. Those programs see a lot of community kids come in and those teachers were needing more space. … The expansion will provide a ground level fellowship hall and open things up a little.”
Information on his ride, and the building project at Tabor Mennonite, is available at his gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/kansas-bicycle-record-for-tabor-mennonite-church.
Next on Nickel's calendar is the 9K, and starting Triathlon training for a season starting in April.