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Local 417-Lander Rode His Bike From Kansas City to Springfield in the Name of Nostalgia

For native Springfieldians, southwest Missouri will always be home, no matter how far away you move.

By Jeff Houghton

May 2019

Cycling Across Missouri
Photo courtesy Brady DavidsonWith the support of his wife, Benton embarked on an almost-200-mile bike ride from Kansas City to Springfield.

Adam Benton grew up in Springfield and later moved away. But, like a lot of people, he’s always felt a pull to his hometown. Kansas City is full of southwest Missouri natives, and many of them make the three-hour trek to visit Springfield, but Benton decided to do it his own way. He’d take the slow way—instead making his trek a three-day one on his bike. He shared with us what he learned along the way.

417 Magazine: Give me the gist. What did you do and why did you set out to do it?
Adam Benton:
I moved to Kansas City about 10 years ago, but anyone from Springfield still considers Springfield their home. Experiencing the outdoors is a way for me to connect with my home and my state in ways that are really important to me. So I decided to do a home-to-home bike ride. Anyone who grew up in Springfield came to Kansas City a ton. It’s the natural embodiment of our second home already.

417: I love riding my bike in the country as well, and it’s a totally different way to experience a destination.
A.B.:
It slows things down in a way to experience them that you don’t get going 70 miles per hour in a car.

417: How many miles did you go?
A.B.: 181.5 total miles. I broke the ride up into three days. With kids, I had to make them not continuous days. I just had to find time. I would get picked up, then get a ride back to the house, then I’d drive back to the spot.

417: That’s the father way to do it.
A.B.:
Yeah it’s the modern-day parent adventurer way. When I told my wife I wanted to do it, she was like, “That’s awesome. What a cool experience it would be. How are you planning on doing this?” She was super inquisitive wondering how I would co-parent and be an adventurer.

Adam Benton Bikes from Kansas City to Springfield, MO
Photo courtesy Brady DavidsonAdam Benton decided to honor his roots by cycling from his current home in Kansas City to his childhood home in Springfield.

417: What was one of your favorite sites from your ride?
A.B.: One of the most important parts of the ride was when I got to Bolivar I cut over to Pleasant Hope, where my dad’s side is from. I rode to the gravesite of my grandmother and grandfather on my dad’s side. When you ride up after riding 90 miles that day, and you’re hungry, and you’re already an emotional wreck, you kinda start to break down a little bit. You’re in a spiritual place where you’ve laid to rest two people that are very important to you. You end up bawling and laughing, because people are looking at the guy crying. It’s like a movie scene as you’re crying in a graveyard. They don’t see your car, so you’re just this guy sitting there crying.

417: Going out and doing something like this, seems like you’d have some takeaways of things you learned. Do you have any takeaways?
A.B.:
There’s a philosophical side of it in learning about yourself and who you are. It’s hours of riding by yourself with silence. I didn’t allow myself to listen to podcasts or music. You’re with yourself and your surroundings. You just have a lot of time to think. I learned that I still have a giant love for my hometown and the people that live there, even though it doesn’t look or sound or feel like where I grew up.

417: I’m the same way about my hometown.
A.B.:
It’s weird. It’s not the same hometown I remember, but there’s this nostalgia you keep reaching for.

417: People go back to their hometown when they’re raising their kids, or in other countries feel this pull to their ancestral village. There’s something in us that pulls us that way.
A.B.:
I’m reading a book right now called The Perennial Seller, and it talks a lot about long growth. That slow growth is the only way that things succeed. The longer that brands develop at a slow growth, the stronger their roots. If you personify it from business to individual development, I’m drawn to go back there always for some reason that’s deeper than me or my ties there. It’s a weird connection that I really can’t explain.