September 18, 2004 ... At one point eight riders said they would be here, but three actually showed due to weather or something. In Topeka, they got hit hard with storms, in KC it was the same. In Lawrence we had rain starting at 7:30 am and had me wondering if we could ride. It cleared about 8:30 and the ride was on.

Mad Max from Lee’s Summit rode right on through a heavy downpour to get here. He said it was raining so hard at times that he could hardly see, his guess was at least two inches. He did see three car wrecks along a 30 mile stretch of K-10 due to rain. This was his first ride with the group and he should be congratulated for his effort to get here. This was his first ride in new waterproof rain gear. He was a little disappointed to find out it didn’t work as good as the ads said it would, he was soaked. The ride started an hour late so we could dry him and his clothes up a bit.

We met one mile South of Lawrence to start the ride. Mad Max, XRNUT (Joe Hackney), and Flasher (me) made up our group. Small groups do have advantages. We could keep a pretty good pace going, and pit stops were quick. Heading South we visited the Baldwin area. We found some single track trails about five miles West of Zarco oil that I had never seen before. Stopping at the nearest house we found out it was a guy I used to go riding with in Colorado over 35 years ago. He said “have at it”, so we did. The trails were very tame but fun. It’s always a treat to stumble across new trails. Lone Star Lake was next. It’s a neat little lake that has curvy asphalt around it and gives you the feeling you’re a road racer. We had five water crossings. Mad Max said later on that this was his first gravel ride, also water was new to him so he crossed one creek several times. He had a big smile on after he conquered that creek. Next came a very primitive road which was even more of a challenge due to rain. Max took his first soil sample in a mud hole. To his defense he had on stock KLR tires. At one point on this road I thought maybe it was a mistake to be there. Erosion had carved two ruts several feet deep. The road narrowed down so the only path was right up the center. It started three feet wide then got to about eight inches Keeping a big 650 on an eight inch wide piece of dirt (mud) is a little unnerving to say the least. If we would have slipped into the ruts I’m guessing it would have taken at least 30 minutes to get a bike out, they were deep and muddy plus several hundred feet long.

Lecompton was the next stop for a late lunch at the Kroger deli. Dennis Gowing joined us for lunch and the afternoon portion of the ride. The Perry Lake trails were next. After awhile we took off for the scenic river road that runs along the Kansas river, then on to Lawrence. We made one last stop at Wells Overlook which is a 50 foot observation tower located on a large hill South of Lawrence to see where we had been. The view is impressive and we could point out landmarks where we had just been. 125 miles give or take. Fun was had by all.

David Hemphill

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