September 30, 2006 ...

A ride into the southern Flint Hills of Cowley, Chautauqua, and Elk Counties. Our day started in Winfield, KS with fourteen riders arriving for the start.

Making this day's ride: Ride Leader, Jeff Gilliland - Wichita, KS - KLR650, Ron Paschel - Derby, KS - DR650, Frank White - Valley Center, KS - KLR650, Mark Nonken - Augusta, KS - DR-Z400, Michael Cramsey - Ponca City, OK - DR650, Don Coiner - Andover, KS - DR650, Richard Sobba - Towanda, KS - DR650, Russ Smith - Wichita, KS - DR-Z400, Roy Russell - Hutchinson, KS - DR650, Bernard Smith - Hutchinson, KS - KLX650, Douglas Bump - Wichita, KS - DR650, Mary Grabanski - Augusta, KS - XT225, Brady Allensworth - Wichita, KS - XR650L, and Roger Baugh - Wichita, KS - KLR650.

Barely out of the start in Winfield, the group became separated. Three riders found themselves alone after a minor mishap. Knowing that the main group would eventually make it to Dexter, KS for the Black Dog Festival, the "three amigos" arrived in Dexter ahead of the main group and inadvertently became the start of the town's parade. What fun everyone was having in Dexter this morning! For more info on the event, visit: Dexter, KS - The Black Dog Festival

Once we were all reunited in Dexter, the group headed to Cedar Vale and Lookout Mountain. The view from atop the "mountain" was colorful! The stop was made all the more interesting with a narrative history of the area provided by Frank, who was once a local to Cedar Vale.

We continued riding south to near the Oklahoma state line, then turned east towards Hewins and Elgin. The wind gods had taken the day off, not even a slight breeze ... it was dust, dust, and more dust plumes hanging like a fog along the entire route. Our ride string sometimes stretched for miles, but we really needed to have entire counties between each rider! Even with the limited visibility, everyone handled the loose and coarse gravel/rock road conditions competently. A dozen riders decided to play in a long mud hole west of Elgin .... fun to watch!

Roy earned the "Luc Valentin Punctured Tube Award" ... his second ride with the group, his second flat. This day didn't go as smooth as his incident last August when we were able to quickly patch a punctured tube without needing to remove the wheel. This time, his tube was too damaged for patching. Wheel dismounted, tube replaced, new tube pinched by a tire iron, opened 'er up, pinched holes patched, closed 'er up .... and finally, success. Took a while, though .... so the main group split into two groups while in Sedan, KS ... as some of the riders needed to return home sooner than the rest of us.

The remaining group grabbed lunch at a BBQ restaurant just west of Sedan, then rode to Howard, KS. Turning west, we rode to the Green Ranch, and the southern edge of the Beaumont wind farm. After a short rest, it was westward-ho into a setting sun towards Augusta, Wichita, and Hutchinson. The Wichita riders arrived home just after sunset, the Hutchinson riders got to use their headlights for maybe an hour or so longer.

We had two minor get-offs, but no injuries and no damage to bikes. We saw a lot of beautiful country today ... and ate a lot of dust when on the backroads ... but it sure was worth the trip!

... rb

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