Inspiration Day

Successful Shakedown Ride

I accomplished everything I intended this weekend. I now know my tent is still in good shape (and I remembered how to set it up); my Thermarest and pillow still hold air all night; my new insect repellent walk-around clothing appear to work; and I have a very short list of minor items that I still need to pack.

Last night we had a light rain that lasted for several hours and naturally, this morning my tent’s rainfly and footprint were soaking wet. I didn’t want to put them in my panniers, so I placed them in a nap sack that I always carry on tours and strapped it to the top of my left pannier. After riding just a few minutes, I discovered that it blocked my rear view mirror. The back roads we were on had very little traffic so I didn’t bother moving it to the other side, but also since there was no wind today, I could hear vehicles coming up from behind for a mile or more.

Did I mention there was NO wind today? Zip. Zero. Zilch. It was bizarre and simply a great day to ride a bike in Kansas. Perfect temperature. The scenery was nothing less than beautiful. We crossed streams where you could actually see the water moving (a rare sight in Western Kansas where I live). Everything was green and almost every old homestead had a barn. If I had read the provided map, I would have known that we were not backtracking to Topeka today but rather took a completely different route. Even though we didn’t get to pass by that barn again that I told you about yesterday, there were others equally interesting and I have included pix for your enjoyment. I’m assuming you also have an appreciation for barns. Ha!

Everyone seemed to be on a mission to get home today and so the riding was faster and less dawdling at the SAGS. I, on the other hand, dawdled a lot and may have been the last person to finish. Someone has to be last, right? About 20 miles from finishing, I stopped for the umpteenth time to snap a picture, and one of the sweep vehicles came by to make sure I was alright. I have a feeling he was hoping that I was tired and wanting to load my bike but I disappointed him with my smile and waived him on. This particular young man, would ride this way and turn around and ride back that way, just to be there for anyone who might be having trouble. It was comforting to know he was on the road in case we needed him.

I met a man from Nebraska who was riding with his two adult daughters and a son-in-law this weekend. They are from Nebraska and were training for the Nebraska State tour starting in a couple of weeks. They were such a great family and I am grateful to have had some time to visit with them.

From old friends to brand new ones, I think we can all agree that the Cottonwood 200 is a “must do” tour each year.

Check out the brickwork and rock cornerstones of this old barn

Check out the brickwork and rock cornerstones of this old barn

These would be happy cows 8-)

These would be happy cows ūüėé

Look Sue!  Lightning rods!

Look Sue! Lightning rods!

Mabelline dawdling AGAIN

Mabelline dawdling AGAIN

Pastors Dave and Gary

Pastors Dave and Gary


Council Grove to Cottonwood Falls

Long ago abandoned one-room school house

Long ago abandoned one-room school house

Big Poppi Bicycles out of Manhattan always near for breakdowns

Big Poppi Bicycles out of Manhattan always near for breakdowns

This is what I perceive Scotland to look like...  But no, this is the Flint Hills of Kansas!

This is what I perceive Scotland to look like… But no, this is the Flint Hills of Kansas!

I found this old and long ago used corral to be special...

I found this old and long ago used corral to be special…

Historic Chase County Courthouse.  It is still in use.

Historic Chase County Courthouse. It is still in use.

Today we rode the 22 miles from Council Grove to Cottonwood Falls and back. ¬†They said it was 25 miles, but no. ¬†The ride yesterday was supposed to be 75, but it was actually 76. ¬†Of course, they have to fudge a little bit, otherwise the ride would have to be called the Cottonwood196 and that just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Since we are spending two nights in Council Grove, everyone just left their sleeping bags and luggage in the gym. ¬†99% of the tenters left their tents up. ¬†What did I do though? ¬†This IS my shakedown ride after all, so I took down my tent and broke camp and loaded my panniers and carried my gear all day. ¬†This brought on much conversation as most people realized that I was preparing for a self-contained tour. ¬†After the turnaround a guy on a recumbent came up behind me on a steep hill and began pushing me from behind. ¬†I felt it immediately and gave a little giggle as I thanked him for the boost. ¬†He couldn’t keep it up for long, but it did stir up memories of John doing that for me years ago when we used to ride together in the 80’s and 90’s. ¬†That was before he got so fast and I sloooowed down. ¬†In fact, I want to brag on John as he won his time trial today in Gardner, Kansas. ¬†He’s quite a guy! ¬†He’s my guy! ¬†Did you know we will be married 38 years this summer?

Since I only had 44 miles today, I got back at a decent time. ¬†Set up my tent and showered and came downtown to a nice coffee shop called “Historic Grounds”. ¬†I highly recommend the blueberry scones and in fact, it’s all I can do to not go back for another. ¬†It looks like storms are a brewing so will close this out and head back to the safety of my tent. ¬†Tomorrow morning there is no really big hurry to break camp and leave town, but I probably will get around early because that is just what I do. ¬†75 miles back tracking to Topeka. ¬†I hope it’s not raining because I have a VERY cool barn that you’re going to want to see!


Green, Lush and Wet

There are the three words of the day. ¬†Oh to have rain in Western Kansas such as the rain we had today from Topeka to Eskridge. It came straight down and without any accompanying lightning. You can see from my pictures that this part of the State is indeed green and lush. I would have liked to take more pictures than I did, but I was a tad worried about my camera getting wet. I just couldn’t help myself sometimes though as I passed by quaint barns, a lovely B&B, and a rural home surrounded by flowers

A pretty rural home surrounded by flowers

A pretty rural home surrounded by flowers

Fence line at the same home

Fence line at the same home

Does everybody know that I love old barns?

Does everybody know that I love old barns?

I saw very few crops today.  This one was just outside of Topeka.

I saw very few crops today. This one was just outside of Topeka.

B & B in Dover

B & B in Dover


I did okay today. The hills were no match for Mabelline (my bike’s name) even carrying 45 pounds of gear. My biggest issue is my saddle. I think I now have the one I will ride on all summer, but my goodness, I hope I get used to it quickly!

I am the only rider on the Cottonwood 200 who is carrying gear. People are curious why, since there is a perfectly good truck along to carry it. One snide remark from a young man who slowed down only long enough to ask me “how do those bags feel right about now?” It was his condescending tone of voice that he meant to bother me. Little did he know that nothing…absolutely nothing was going mess with my joy of the day. Every other person who spoke to me just wanted to know my story. One thing is for certain, I am very visible with my big yellow waterproof Ortlieb panniers!

I was happy to run into some old friends from Hays that I have not seen in years. Also another friend, Ron Leiker, saw me during the meeting earlier and invited me to join he and his friends for supper, but they were ready to go and I hadn’t even showered.

After cleaning up and getting organized, I walked to the local Mexican restaurant and sat at a table with two retired Lutheran Pastors. They evidently have been friends for a long time and both ride. We sat and ate casually and talked about a little bit of everything: a little politics, a little religion, but mostly bicycling conversation.

Most people are camped in the gym but I am happy to be in my tent tonight. The rain has passed and it’s going to be cool and breezy. A perfect end to a splendid day…




In Training

I am excited to announce my 2014 Summer Adventure! I will be riding my bicycle from Missoula, Montana to Denali National Park, Alaska. I will tell you more about the exact route and various details as we go along. On June 9th, I will leave Dodge City and drive to Dillon, Montana to meet up with my riding buddy, Sue where we will begin the acclimation process for riding at high altitudes.

If you’ve followed my riding over all these years, you know that I’ve ridden big tours of 1,700 people such as Bicycle Tour of Colorado or Ride the Rockies. I’ve ridden tours of 300 people such as Bike Across Kansas, Freewheel of Oklahoma, or the Tour of Montana. I’ve ridden with a handful of guys across Kansas north to south and south to north. In 2008, my friend, Kathy and I rode across the U.S. while accompanied by another friend driving a camper. Then…in 2012, I rode west to east across the northern United States, seven weeks of it solo and about seven weeks of it joined by Sue.

This year, this ride (Adventure Cycling Association’s North Star Tour) will consist of 16 riders, all on bicycles. Besides, Sue and I, I have met the leader (Wally Warner) only because he was bicycling through Kansas on his way from the Florida Keys to Missoula just a couple of weeks ago. I found out his route and invited him to stay with us so I could pump him for information. John was very happy to meet Wally and to find out what a capable and quality human being he is. The other 14 people I will meet on June 14th as we rendezvous at the Missoula KOA.

For now, I will say that I’ve been riding as much as possible to prepare. In the past few days I have begun to ride fully panniered on flat roads close to home. But…on this Memorial Weekend, I will ride the Cottonwood 200 which is an organized tour of 300 people that begins in Topeka tomorrow. We will ride the Flint Hills to Council Grove (75 miles). On Sunday, we ride to Cottonwood Falls and back to Council Grove (50 miles). On Monday it’s back to Topeka (75 miles).

When I say I’m riding fully panniered, I mean that my bags (called panniers) are fully packed and attached to my bike. This weekend I will experience riding these famous Flint Hills of Kansas carry 45 pounds of tent, sleeping bag, and various other sundries (or if you live in the south, assundries).

I begin the blog today with a new piece of equipment, this iPad Air. It has built in Verizon Wireless that I will have to switch over to an International Plan very soon. For now, I will be experimenting with transferring what I write here in “Notes” to my blog at WordPress. The issue of inserting pictures just where I want them is always a challenge; typing on this tiny keyboard making as few typos as possible is a challenge; and typing while sitting in a camp chair in the confines of the small area of my tent…now that’s another challenge.

Please stay tuned as I blog this weekend all in the pursuit of adventure! (Oh, yes…and fitness ūüėé