November 9, 2002. With the weather forecast favorable, an impromptu ride developed to explore the southern Flint Hills. Our rendezvous point was MotorSports Honda/Kawasaki in Wichita, with our jumping off point being Cedar Vale, KS ... about seventy miles to the southeast.

Joe and Teresa Blanchard arrived two-up on his KLR650, along with Teresa's father, Bob Lee, on his pristine 1978 KZ1000. It was their plan to ride the pavement to Cedar Vale, then run a different paved route back to Wichita. As it turned out, non-paved road conditions were good, so Bob, Teresa, & Joe decided to ride the entire off-pavement section. Also along on this ride were Bill Emond riding his BMW F650 GS, Tom Harmon with his KLR650, and myself, Roger Baugh riding my "clean" KLR650.

We stopped in Cedar Vale for lunch, then fueled up before starting our dirt road section. Tom "Hopalong" Harmon entertained everyone with one of his unique dismounts at the local gas station. Unfortunately, cameras weren't in place to record the event.

Leaving Cedar Vale, we rode south along the Caney River to Elgin. If you like to explore Kansas's hidden treasures, this is one area truly worth riding. The Fall colors of the hills were fantastic! At Elgin, on the Oklahoma state line, we turned north and rode through forested open range towards Sedan, KS. Crossing Hwy. 166, we rode up the Middle Caney Creek valley before turning back west to cross the spine of the Flint Hills.

Along the way, we stopped to observe a very large "Texas Brown" tarantula crossing the road. It was not pleased with the interruption, and made a strike at the "spider herder" (tarantulas are much quicker than they appear!). Thick leather gloves prevented its' fangs from finding flesh ... however, adrenaline levels were raised a degree or two! The agitated arachnid eventually disappeared into the brush, so we remounted and continued on with our travels.

We rode across one scenic valley after another, observing numerous horse and cattle herds, and one sizeable buffalo herd. The ride was done at a modest pace, with no technical requirements for the riders other than negotiating loose gravel. With no pressures to maintain a schedule, we all had time to let the heads swivel and take in all the colors and vistas of a beautiful Fall day.

It was a great ride. We'll do this one again next year!

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