|The 2009 Flint Hills Stampede turned out to be the best attended event we've held thus far. Nearly eighty riders joined-up, with some riders coming in from as far away as Colorado and Minnesota.
Heading up the event were volunteer Ride Leaders Tim Edwards, Glen Krause, Jesse Smith, Eddie McLiney, Greg Mitchell, Phil Denk, David Hemphill, and Roger Baugh.
The eight separate patrols were part of the overall ride formats of: Scenic, Intermediate, and Advanced levels. All formats contained a mix of ride conditions, from easy to technical, with the main differences being both the ride pace and amount of technical difficulty encounters.
Friday, June 5th, was the beginning of the event, with attendees either riding or trailering to the group camp site at Council Grove Reservoir. Ride Leaders Tim Edwards and Glen Krause provided early attendees with Friday afternoon rides. A photography session was held Friday evening that included a walking tour of the historic Council Grove downtown area and the Kaw Indian Mission site.
Saturday morning, all groups collected and joined up with their respective ride leaders. By 9:00 am, the camp site was deserted, with patrols heading out to a number of compass points.
Awaiting the returning patrols was a great BBQ dinner, followed by door prize awards (all attendees went home with a prize ... thanks to the wonderful sponsor support we received this year) and soothing acoustic guitar music was provided by Vince Serrioz of Wichita. Photos from the event can be found here ...
Ride Reports ....
Scenic Ride ... Ride Leader: Roger Baugh - KLX250. Sweep: Chris Owens - KLX250. Wingman: Thurman Brittingham - KLX250. Group members: Tony Koenen - KLR650, Mike Kirn - KLR650, Joe Saunders - DR350, Ralph Getchell - KTM990, Matt Venable - DR-Z400, Rick Lyda - KTM950, William Brentlinger - KLR650, David Webb - XR650L, and Mike Keithley - KLR650.
Ours was the last group to leave camp, and the last to return. Rolling out of the Canning Creek campsite, our group rode to the southwest towards the ghost town of Diamond Springs. The "Springs" were once a vital part of the Santa Fe Trail in the early to mid 1800s, as it was the only place where a dependable and year-round source of water could be found between Council Grove, KS and Santa Fe, NM.
Arriving south of Diamond Springs, we decided to run a minimum maintenance three-mile stretch of prairie just to get our riding skills "tuned-in". It was fun, with no difficulties encountered. We then rode Diamond Creek road, eventually arriving at Bummie's Grocery store in Elmdale to grab a cool soft drink and munchies.
We then rode into Cottonwood Falls to fuel-up. The normally sleepy town was hopping this day... thousands of people were gathering for the annual Flint Hills Rodeo and Parade, so we kept our visit short.
From Cottonwood Falls, we rode to Den Creek Road, a scenic valley road that brought us out near Bazaar, KS. At Bazaar, we turned south along Sharpes Creek Road, entering open range for the first time in our travels. Yearling cattle herds were skittish, and one large herd managed to split our group in two with a stampede of their own making! After Sharpes Creek, we rode over to Madison Road, and were once again on unfenced open range. Following the ridge line past Texaco Hill, the group rode south down an unmarked minimum maintenance road, then west to the ghost town of Teterville and the Teter Rock overlook of wild mustang herds. We weren't there but a few minutes when another scenic ride group led by Phil Denk came rolling in ... so we took the opportunity for a group shot of the two patrols.
Leaving Teter Rock, our group rode to the southwest along "D Road" to the edge of the 777 Ranch, then looped to the northwest to arrive in Cassoday for refueling. At that point, the decision was made to send the riders on larger displacement machines on ahead, with the three riders on smaller KLX250s following up a few minutes later and at a slower pace.
Our trailing group of KLX riders happened upon two of our KLR650 riders north of Matfield Green, one immobilized with serious tire damage. We managed to get him rolling again, but the damage was severe enough to cause another flat near the Tallgrass Prairie National Monument. A call was made to the main camp, and Bob Morgan of Topeka volunteered to rescue the hapless rider and bike with his trailer. Bob exemplified the spirit of the entire group .... going the extra mile(s) to help-out a fellow rider in need. Thanks, Bob! Eventually our trailing group made it back to camp three hours past due .... but our spirits had not been dampened, and we still ate well!
Overall ... a great ride. The scenery was spectacular. The challenges were just enough to keep us on our toes. We had some riders bunch-up at times, but there were no mishaps. Yee-haw! .... Roger Baugh
Intermediate Ride .... Ride Leader: Glen Krause. Group Members: Dan Booth - KLR650, Jason Buster - KLR650, Ryan Combs - KLR650, Quinton Dodds - DR-Z400, Robert Hammerlund - F650GS, Jim Letellier - LC640, Jerry Lind - TE610, David McCune - KLR650, Dennis Murray - DR-Z400, and Gordon Polston - KLR650.
After fighting the mid morning traffic and road construction through downtown Council Grove, we hit the back roads of Morris Co. Making our way north we turned on to Little Egypt Road and dropped down in to the tree lined valleys of Wabaunsee Co. The roadbed has taken a pounding from the recent rains, but judging from the comments of the group, it made for challenging and extremely fun time.
Stopped to visit the Old Fort and then worked our way to Alma for lunch, which happened to be celebrating 150 years this weekend. While there the National Guard shot off several rounds of artillery, quite loud they were. Next we headed East and soon after experienced the first flat tire of the day. The tube was patched and we proceeded on to Eskridge and then on south towards Lyon Co.
We encountered a moving road block consisting of approximately 5,000 head of cattle being driven by a gal on a ATV (maybe a little off on the head count). As luck would have it, they turned left at the next corner and we were able to continue on. Stopped at the site of an old wooden toll bridge used during the heyday of the Santa Fe trail.
We then started working our way back towards the camp grounds. Along the way, one of the group had a shift lever break so he and another of the group headed back to C.G. via Highway US-56. After continuing on for a few more miles, I decided to cut the last few miles of the route off and head back to camp. Just after leaving the city limits of C.G., the previously patched tire decided that it wanted to go flat again After a failed attempt at inflating the tire one of the group rode back to camp and returned with a trailer to retrieve the tired bike and rider. I hope that everyone had as good of a time as I had .... Glen Krause
Advanced Ride ..... Ride Leader: Tim Edwards. On Friday afternoon, a group of twelve left the Canning Creek campsite for an exploratory tour to the west and north of Council Grove State Lake. We found several miles of minimum maintenance roads and, thankfully, no mud. We had several very promising roads that were turnarounds but they went far enough to make them interesting nevertheless. The afternoon ride was nearly 70 miles and finished in time to head in to Council Grove for an early dinner.
As a ride leader, I thought the Saturday ride was delightful. First, there were only five of us and with the wind, dust was minimal. Second, my group had a Tim (me), three Steve's, and a Paul so even with my advancing age, I could remember all the names. Third, nobody got hurt. And Fourth, there were no serious breakdowns which is amazing considering that 30 minutes into our ride, we found a nail in Paul's rear tire. Paul made the decision to leave it alone and we rode nearly 150 miles before it finally started leaking.
After finding the nail, we rode Little Egypt road both directions. We also rode the minimum maintenance roads north of Volland, and we rode virtually all of the minimum maintenance roads, including Box Turtle, between Alma and Eskridge. It was only after we started back to the camp site on pavement that the Slime began to leak out of Paul's tire. It still felt solid but there was no air pressure. Discretion being the better part of valor, Paul called his wife (as we were finally in an area where we had cellular signal bars), who arrived to haul the bike the final twelve miles back to camp. And did I mention, no one got hurt! Thanks to my group for being so easy-going and fun .... and to everyone, especially Roger, for planning and executing another successful Stampede ... Tim Edwards
Scenic Ride ..... Ride Leader: Greg Mitchell. I led a scenic ride this year instead of an intermediate one. With me were: Rod Keen - Buell XB12X, Ireland Turner - KLR650, Bob Morgan - Suzuki DRZ400, David Hulsen - KLR650, Mike Hosfelt - Honda XR650L, Kelly Benzel - Yamaha TW-200, Mike Benzel - Suzuki DR650, Larry Lacy - Kawasaki Super Sherpa, Chip Marker - KLR650, and myself on the Honda XL600V Transalp.
The ride went pretty much as planned. We followed the itinerary I posted before the ride. There were no flats, mechanical issues, or problems of any kind, just as I had announced before leaving camp: Laughing We did have some added benefits as the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve had a nice demonstration of old time stuff (weaving, carving, etc.) while we were there.
And, we got to be a small part of the parade in Cottonwood Falls as we passed by the courthouse. We had a nice meal at the Wagon Wheel in Emporia, and thanks again Chip for the lunch!! We had a lot of varied terrain and roads: tarmac, gravel, grass, dirt, and a couple of water crossings to play in. The wind was about strong enough to blow the bikes over on top of the hill out by the microwave tower, and seemed to scoot the bikes over on loose gravel when going directly cross-wind. Must have been blowing steady at 40 mph or so. But, the wind was our friend most of the day as it kept the dust blown away between bikes most of the time. We ended up going about 175 miles on Saturday, mostly on gravel backroads.
I want to commend everyone on my ride for making my job so easy. What a great group of guys (and gal) to ride with. Thanks again, Rod, for being the sweeper most of the day. Kelly, excellent job on the TW200, that is a cool bike ( and the one I first took out on the backroads many years ago).
Can't wait to do it again next year! I would also like to thank my friend Dennis Arb for the wonderful barbeque meal, and to Vince Serrioz for the excellent guitar playing afterwards! (Love your CD too!) And I would also like to thank the Lord for breaking up the storms Sat. night and Sun. morning right before they got to our campsite ... Greg Mitchell
Advanced Ride .... Ride Leader: Jesse Smith. Sweep: Michael Farmer. This was my first year at leading a ride during the Stampede, and boy, am I looking forward to doing it again. I got to meet some great people in my group and the dynamics of the group were great.
In my group was Justin Begnoche - XR650L, Ken Boss - KLX400, Michael Bright - KLR650, Darian Callaway - XR650L, Michael Farmer - WR250R, Gene Ray - KLR650, Dennis Sewell - XR650L, Colby Urban - DRZ400E, and myself - DR650. An honorary member of my group was my brother, Kirby Smith - DR650, who was not able to make it due to other obligations that came up.
The day began cool and muggy as we pulled out of the campgrounds. The ride started with a small loop just west of the lake. As we moved north on Kelso Road, about 16 miles into the ride, we got out first flat. We pulled the tube and replaced it but then had issues with the brake pads not wanting to stay in place when remounting the tire. After some head scratching, we finally got the KLR back together and we were off. We had lost some time so we had to "move".
We headed north on minimum maintenance roads, and about 25 miles later had our second flat of the day. By the time we got back to the "shop" (aka side of the road), they had the tire off and the tube out ready to patch. Quick repair work on the DRZ and we were off.
Since we lost a little more time, we had to keep rolling at a good pace. Up to Little Egypt, which was pretty rough compared to the end of April, then through Volland. The group's bellies were growing restless so we kept pouring on the throttle as we headed toward Alma. We stopped for lunch at Deb's Restaurant and as usual, it was most excellent.
We headed out of Alma on Clapboard Ravine Road which is a winding road that has a great canopy over it. Then we headed over to Bobcat Road, which was pretty beat up from "maintenance" someone had done on it, and to the famous Box Turtle Road.
Box Turtle had also changed drastically from the end of April. This was our first drop of the day, as Michael Bright had a slight issue on the climb up the south end of the road. He was so quick to recover and get his bike back upright that I did not even have a chance to capture the moment on camera. The rest of the group made the climb without incident.
We rolled into Eskridge on a great MM road that comes straight in from the North. We stopped to top off our tanks and met up with a group of Harley riders from Wisconsin .... eh! You could sure hear the accents as we talked about everything from dirtfarmer's hippie chick to helmet laws to smoking bans. It was cool to see two totally different groups of riders come together and shoot the breeze!!
We were off again and as we headed down Old K-4 towards the campground, I had our second drop of the day. Missed a corner and as I slowed to do a 180 degree turn, my front wheel washed out and down she went. I stayed on my feet and as everyone approached, they thought I had lost it at high speed. I was laughing so hard in my helmet that I could hardly tell them I was fine!!
We rolled back into the campground right around 4:30 pm with 171 miles showing on my GPS. No group separations, no major problems, and no injuries. The group was great and it was an honor leading them on the ride. Thanks to Michael Farmer for riding sweep for the group, and we all agreed that he could have first shower when we got back to camp ... Jesse Smith
Intermediate Ride .... Ride Leader: Eddie McLiney. Sweep: Britt Lolley. This was my third year leading a ride. The first two years were scenic rides. This year I lead an intermediate ride.
Saturday morning at the campground, I explained to those gathered a little about the ride, and explained that the area we would be riding was somewhat new to me and there could be a number of u-turns. I also planned on getting on to an abandoned railroad roadbed. Seven riders chose to risk a trip with me. One thing of interest - no two riders rode the same bike. There riders were, Tim Emerson - BMW F800GS, Joe Steve - DRZ400, Justin Johnson - KTM520 EXC, Jeff Johnson - KTM990 ADV, Robert Kite - KLR650, Ken Clifford - DR650, and riding sweep for me for the third time, Britt Lolley - DL650. I rode my BMW 1200GS ADV.
We headed southeast to pick up the abandoned railroad bed just outside of Council Grove. I did not know if there would be fences or closed bridges along the old tracks but that is what made it an adventure. At the first place we got on the tracks we were able to ride about a half mile until we hit a fence. We turn around and pick up the RR tracks at another location and headed east and rode and rode. Along the tracks, there were three bridges, one 1/4 mile long that crossed Rock Creek. The bridges had no railing and the loose gravel was crowned in the middle and sloped to the edge. One rider said the bridge was 20 feet above the creek, another said it was at least 250 feet above! I did not look down much but it felt much closer to the second estimate then the first. 9.3 miles later, we are off the RR tracks at a sign that reads No Motorized Vehicles Allowed. I promise, there was no sign where we got on the tracks.
After the RR tracks, we headed north towards Eskridge and hit many minimum maintenance road. When we get to Eskridge, it was too early for lunch, so we headed straight north out of Eskridge toward Skyline Road on minimum maintenance roads and then south on Rockton Road to lunch at the Lakeside BBQ at Lake Wabaunsee. Everyone enjoyed lunch.
Behind the Lakeside BBQ, there is a scenic overlook on private property. The owner put in a road for the public and fenced the spot off for the pubic to use. It overlooks Lake Wabaunsee and the surrounding Flint Hills. Everyone thought it was a beautiful spot.
From there, we headed north and east towards Alma. That was where we had our only flat of the trip. Britt jumped into action, put in a new tube and had us on our way in no time. Where we had the flat was across from a old cemetery. While Britt worked some of us checked it out. After fixing the flat, we rode a very neat road called Clapboard Ravine Road into Alma. Alma was having a celebration that we "crashed". I wanted to exit Alma on Old 18 Rd. The only way I knew to get there was through town. We cut through a parking lot and was surrounded by the KS National Guard. We waved, went through the barricade and onto Old 18 and rode numerous roads coming out near Volland. From Volland we rode SE to Little Egypt Road. The heavy rains recently had Little Egypt rutted with lots of loose rocks. It was a lot of fun. From Little Egypt, we ran gravel back to camp, arriving around 5:00 pm.
I enjoyed the company of all the riders in my group. They were also all very good riders and knew how to handle their bikes. However, Justin and Jeff Johnson, the two Colorado riders, were in a class by themselves. I hope I did not hold them back too much.
We rode approximately 175 miles on some of the most scenic Flint Hill roads north of Highway 56. However, I believe, the highlight for everyone was the ride along the RR tracks at the beginning of the ride. I know that was my favorite. I hope all the riders had as much fun as I did .... Eddie McLiney
Scenic Ride... Ride Leader: Phil Denk - KLR650, Sweep Rider (trail boss): Larry Ostrom - KLR650, Swing Rider: JC Anderson - Super Sherpa. Outriders: Dan Anderson - DR650, Jerry Valdez - XT600, Bob Coopman - KLR650, RD Woolsey - KLR650, Cal & Wes Rutledge - KLR650s and Steve Shunk - KLX250.
As this was my first year as a ride leader, I arrived at Council Grove on wednesday and spent a couple of days scouting out areas from previous rides and waypoints provided by Roger Baugh. Due to recent heavy rain, I found that a lot of the roads to the south had suffered some pretty severe erosion which eliminated a few of my choices for routing. However, the graders were out in force and we had good road conditions and excellent weather!
Saturday morning our group came together in good fashion as all were well prepared and ready to ride. We departed camp at app. 8:45 and headed west for a little warm-up on pavement around the north side of Council Grove Lake. We worked the section roads to the south and west and took CC road into Diamond Springs where we took a break for drinks and photos.
Heading south on Diamond Creek Road, we took in the stone bridge west of Neva and then engaged in a brief battle with the semis and SUVs on US-56 Hwy. to arrive at Elmdale. After a visit to the general store and a few photos, we toured Chase State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area and then on east to Cottonwood Falls. The town was obviously preparing for a big day so we made a pass down Main St. and then a quick gas stop. Heading south, we took Spring Creek Road to Den Creek Road (some erosion here but no problems) arriving at Bazaar we then took Sharpes Creek Road south. Crossing west to Matfield Green , we expected a crowd at the local bar and grill but found we had the place to ourselves. Though the dessert menu was somewhat lacking (no pie), we had a good lunch, and with full stomachs headed south on K-177 to Cassoday.
After loading up on gas in Cassoday, we headed west across the 777 Ranch and TWP 57 to County Road 31, then north to Teeter Road and the "rock". As was predicted earlier in the day, we met up with Roger's group and spent some time taking photos and enjoying the view. As the groups separated, we went north over Texaco Hill where we spent a good amount of time perfecting the art of cattle avoidance. We rode further north to Kembro, and then 50 Road where we took in the awesome views to the west and waved at the less fortunate travelers as we passed over the Kansas Turnpike (I-35). A long straight stretch north brought us to "Stonehenge" where we stopped for photos and had a chat with the folks who live there. Working our way north and east, we arrived back in Cottonwood Falls for fuel and a break. As we were looking a little road worn and weary at this point, we decided on a quick stop at the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve and then a quick trip north on K-177 Hwy. to return to Council Grove.
My thanks and congratulations to the group as all proved to be very capable riders and showed a great deal of patience with a first time ride leader. Our trip was smooth and incident free and I hope we can do it again next year .... Phil Denk