Rick Stephens, 61, leaves Monday on a bicycle bound for Winnipeg, Manitoba.
There's so much in that sentence that catches the eye. So much that makes you want to know exactly what's going on here.
It's easy. Stephens, who has made the bicycle trip twice before (albeit when he was younger) is raising money for breast cancer research.
But it's more than that, really. This is a test for a man who has already proven himself a survivor.
Stephens, a former high school administrator in Wichita, was one of the nine people, including eight players, who lived through the Wichita State football plane crash in the Rockies west of Denver in 1970. Not a day goes by when he doesn't think about his friends who perished in that accident and those who, like him, lived.
When I called him Saturday to check a fact for this column, he was visiting with Randy Jackson, another crash survivor who was a middle school physical education instructor in Wichita. The bond that runs through the survivors is strong, whether they remain in contact or not.
Stephens does not embark on this 840-mile journey without concerns. And if you wonder why he's biking to Winnipeg instead of somewhere else, just go outside and check the wind. At this time of the year, it's usually blowing form the south.
Stephens needs every advantage he can get.
"I'll tell you what, it's cathartic," Stephens said. "When you get out on the road, especially 30, 40 or 50 miles away from home, you feel like you're on your own. It's not like I'm in a covered wagon from the old days, but you feel that sense of self-reliance. You're pretty much alone with your thoughts, just you and the road. You can put less-urgent things away.''
Stephens is giving himself 10 days to make the trip. On his previous rides to Winnipeg, he'd pull into an open field at night, put up his tent and sleep in the wild.
Stephens' family has nixed that idea for this journey and he didn't fight their decision. He'll spend each night in a motel, making sure he gets plenty of rest and nourishment.
Stephens' plan is to spend 10 hours per day on his bicycle with four or five breaks. He thinks his bike is ready for the trip — the folks at Bicycle Peddler have helped fine tune his vehicle. He's taking two new tires and four tubes, just in case.
"Something as simple as a thumb tack will give you a flat," Stephens said. "And believe it or not, there are people who take joy in throwing those things out on the shoulder of the road. I've had it happen."
He's leaving Monday morning at 7 and plans to make it to Abilene before stopping for the day. He is thrilled that the temperature is not expected to rise above 80 degrees for the next 10 days, although there is quite a bit of rain forecast along the route of his trip, which is about as straight north from Wichita as you can get.
"I'm leaving a little bit earlier than I have in the past," Stephens said. "Usually, I've gone in June. But I don't manage heat very well. It's good that there's a town every 20-25 miles along the way, someplace I can stop. People are always so kind. I've had them feed me, offer me a place to stay."
Stephens loves the Man vs. Nature aspect of his trip, or at least he used to. Once, he camped in a field near Clay Center, when a cold front swept through. Not just any cold front; this one had bite.
Stephens was laying in his tent — or as his daughter, Sarah, calls it: "a coffin" — trying to keep from freezing, when a pick-up truck pulled in. He feared the worst, that a farmer was about to shoo him off his property.
Instead, the farmer who owned the field asked if Stephens was OK and offered him a warm place to sleep.
Stephens decided to raise money for breast cancer this time because he knows several people who have battled the disease.
"I've done a lot of reading about it,'' he said. "They say one in eight women will be diagnosed with it at some point in their lives. I was going through some material and saw the Susan B. Komen mission statement and told myself that if I was going to make this ride, I might as well make it for a purpose.''
"Well, how does Wichita to the United States border sound to you?" Stephens replied. "I think Wichita to Winnipeg has a really nice ring to it. And once you get to Winnipeg, there's not much farther you can go.''
Stephens will stay for a day or two in Winnipeg, but he's not riding his bicycle back against the south wind. He's packing it up and getting on a Greyhound Bus.
"It's amazing how fast one of those things goes," Stephens said. "But this is something I'm really looking forward to. And I'm excited more this time because I feel like I'm accomplishing more than for my own personal enjoyment and challenge."
But it's the challenge that fuels him. Stephens' perspective on life changed forever on that sunshine-filled fall day nearly 40 years ago. He hasn't taken a day for granted since.
"I feel great sorrow for those kids who were lost in that plane crash,'' he said. "I guarantee you, I did not deserve to survive any more than anybody else. I've gone on to have great experiences with my life."
The ride to Winnipeg on a bicycle is just the next one.