May 4, 2007 ... RoadRUNNER magazine was out to do a story on dualsporting in Kansas. Of course, we wanted to show them the best of the central and southern Flint Hills region.

Making the ride ... Steve Starkel - Bel Aire - Husky TE610, R.D. Woolsey - Wichita - KLR650, Greg Mitchell - Emporia - TransAlp, Britt Lolley - Wichita - DL650, and Roger Baugh - Wichita - KLR650.

On Thursday, Steve, RD, and Roger rode up in a light rain from Wichita to the historic Cottage House Hotel in Council Grove to rendezvous with the RoadRUNNER crew: Jim Parks - KLR650 and Jeff Armitrage - TransAlp.

A Packard automobile owners rally was going on at the hotel, too. Many beautifully restored and maintained automobiles were present, and we had the chance to visit with a number of the owners.The conditions on Friday morning were damp and overcast, but temperatures were pleasant. The beginning of the ride started out quite nicely. Road conditions were wet, but the all-weather gravel roads were holding up quite well, and we were able to proceed at a good pace. We rode to the west-southwest to Diamond Springs, then swung south to Elmdale. We then rode along the Cottonwood River using the Camp Wood Road, which was manageable, but difficult the last quarter mile due to mud conditions. One rider fell victim to the mud along this stretch.

We made a quick run over to the Clements bridge for photos, then turned south and entered the Coyne Creek Road. Several of us had traveled this three mile long road only a few days before with ease. Today was a whole different story. Constant rains had turned the road bed to mush. Gumbo mud packed forks and swingarms, creating an unnerving braking effect at one or both wheels. Three riders went down, including the ride leader. What was to be a 7-10 minute shortcut turned into over two hours of slogging, pushing, lifting, and pleading! We eventually emerged from the "Trail of Tears". As Jim remarked to seeing a wet, but solid surfaced gravel road again .... "It looked like an interstate highway in comparison to what we had just experienced!" We hooked-up with Britt in Cottonwood Falls for lunch at the Emma Chase Cafe', knocked off the mud, and continued on with our journey.

With so much time lost, we decided to skip several parts of the ride and proceed directly on to Cassoday and Beaumont by pavement. From Beaumont, we continued south to Latham through the wind farm, then on to Cambridge. From Cambridge, we then turned west to Winfield ... the final stop of the day for our guests, arriving around 6:30 pm.

It was a far rougher morning than any of us could have imagined ... but no damage done to the bikes or riders. And ... the start and end of the ride was most enjoyable. It was a shame we couldn't show our guests all that had been planned, but nature and time constraints always win out!

Thanks to Steve Starkel for use of a couple of his photos .... rb

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