August 23, 2008 - This day was to be a second foray into Wabaunsee County in as many weeks ... but the weather determined otherwise. For our group, it turned out to be an extremely challenging ride, nonetheless.

On Friday, August 22, Noel Heyer - Wichita - KLR650, and Roger Baugh - Wichita - KLR650, rode up to Country Dreams Bed & Breakfast in northeastern Marion County. We spent the afternoon at the B&B taking-in some great bass, crappie, and bluegill fishing, then settled in for one of the establishment's fabulous dinners. We didn't see a single cloud the entire day or evening, and our hopes were high for more of the same the following day. Arising in the pre-dawn, we were greeted with ominous looking storm clouds, particularly to the northeast, the area where we had planned to ride. After breakfast, we loaded up and headed out ... running to the north towards Burdick.

As we rode the ridgelines, we could see dark clouds building over Council Grove, our rendezvous point twenty-five miles away. Occasional rumbles could be heard as lightning danced through the clouds. Outside of Burdick, we felt the first drops of rain, so stopped to don our rain gear. The last fifteen miles were spent in a torrential downpour as we entered Council Grove, where streets were flooding from the massive amount of rainfall.

Arriving at the Cottage House Hotel in Council Grove, we made contact with the other members of today's ride; Thurman Brittingham - Rose Hill - KLX250, Jesse Smith - Abilene - DR650, Gordon Polston - Herington - KLR650, Larry Ostrom - Concordia - KLR650, Mike Miller - Junction City - BMW HP2 Enduro, and Ken Boss - Salina - KLX400.

After looking at Nexrad radar, we determined that proceeding into Wabaunsee county would place us in the middle of the thunderstorms, and we could get locked-in to the slow moving front for hours. To our southwest, we could see that the front was passing, and possibly offered some drier conditions. The decision was made to proceed into southwest Morris and northern Chase counties to escape the rain.

It was the right call. After fifteen miles of riding to the southwest, we were back into dry riding conditions. We rode to the ghost town of Diamond Springs, then turned to the west to ride the minimum maintenance quadrangle found there. In some sections, there had been no vehicular traffic for what appeared to be months, and we were riding through handlebar high sections of grass and shrub. Turning south down Diamond Creek Road, we arrived in Elmdale, then turned west towards Clements.

South of Clements, we entered the minimum maintenance Coyne Creek Road, where conditions had changed dramatically. Evidentally, there had been a "microburst" of rain in that area, and a flash flood had scoured the creek mere hours prior to our arrival. Tons of silt had washed onto the road, or had carried the gravel away. The numerous creek crossings had been completely altered, going from gentle crossings to highly technical ones, where the creek bed was now filled with large rocks, boulders, and deeper holes. No longer did we have a gentle grade leading into the creek and streams, we now had 6-12" banks to contend with at the creek and stream edges. We made it through OK, but it was a far more difficult transition .... compared to a ride we had made through there only three weeks prior.

Emerging from Coyne Creek, we rode back to Strong City following some highly scenic valleys. Stopping for a late lunch, we had an opportunity to visit at length and recount the highlights of the ride. Following lunch, we said our goodbyes and set-out for the return rides home.

There were no mechanical issues today, but we did have one minor get-off in the mud at Coyne Creek .... and the ride leader got wedged into some boulders at a water crossing that required a team effort extraction. (.... thankfully for the ride leader, this was a group adventure tour!)

What a great day, going from a possible "no-go" scenario ... to one with breathtaking scenery, technical challenges, teamwork, and great camaraderie! ... rb

Thanks to Larry Ostrom for use of his water crossing photo ....

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