We had to break our routine this morning because breakfast wasn’t until 6:30. I’m telling you everything is pin point routine like the Swiss Army. Before you ride, and after, you are always preparing. My hotel room ritual is wired down to the tee, each duffel bag is unpacked and the contents laid out EXACTLY the same and replaced the same. It’s pretty amusing, the identical ritual every day. Even the 2 “rest” days we’ve had, there’s no rest, do the laundry, haircuts if needed, and constantly picking up supplies.
So I wake up extra early today so that I’m now dressed and ready to ride before breakfast not following In fact I walked into the breakfast room with my helmet on to the amusement of other riders ” boy you sure are ready to ride” so, what the heck I keep the helmet on.
I first glance out the window when I wake up and oh boy things changed overnight. I see a lone tree in the parking lot below bent over like a pretzel. I glance at the horizon and the whole sky is black as far east and west as I can see. I don’t have to wipe the sleep from my eyes, it just falls out ! Then I do the check the temp walk outside, jumping catfish, it’s flipping cold !!!
So off we launch on today’s 82 mile sprint to make it to Dodge City before the reported 2 PM storm watch ! It’s a full Lemans start and all the sub groups of riders put the hammers down. The wind is now our foe and no longer our BFF of the past 5 days. As we leave town we start passing and smelling the pig processing plants, sinus clear check complete. The stench almost makes you eyes water but the winds blowing so hard you can’t think about it. Welcome to the Kansas breeze. I look at my Garmin at mile 26 and can only think, this is going to be a long day. Paul in our group gets the first flat which turns into bus stop 45 minute tire change. We are now the last group. Another flat on Jims front tire, ( FYI flat tires almost always happen on the rear tire and take longer to change ) but this time we are back rolling in about 10 minutes.
We pull into our first sag stop at the Dalton Gang Hideout. We visit the museum and walk thru the escape tunnel they built in case the law shows up. The history is fascinating right down to their final double bank robbery attempt only to be ambushed trying to ride out of town. The towns people apparently had knowledge of the D gang coming and they all prepared arms and took the bad boys out. This is after something like 150 marshals were hot in their trail. Thus their escape tunnel back at their sister Ema’s house. Ok history class dismissed
Let’s go back to breakfast for a minute. So as I said I’m eating my Captain Crunch all dressed in my biking garb. And a really nice man who I greeted getting off the elevator comes over and starts to ask about Bike 4 Mike. The conversation starts as it often does, ” so are you Mike? “. We talked for quite a long time and it turns out one of his relatives lost the ALS battle. The conversation was very uplifting and rewarding as I’ve had very few meaningful conversations about the disease and our TGF foundation It helps reinforce one of the missions of this undertaking. I’ll remember this fine gent from Arkansas for a longtime. I loved his accent and before we left we were both sharing grandchildren photos.
Back to the ride, by the time we leave tha sag stop, the suns out and its warming up. But, you guessed it the winds building! We stop for our last sag in a town the size of a dime, Minneola. We’re at a corner gas station – old market. Well every single person coming a going is greeting us and each of them repeats almost the identical thing. ” watch out for them tornados boys and be careful”.
So I check my watch, it’s 1 and the storm watch starts at 2. Crap, we’ve got an hour and we’re 20 miles out and we now have to turn and ride north. It’s now a vicious cross wind on a 2 lane road and the cattle trucks are barreling along at 65. Oh and we’ve now got less shoulder so I have a plan. Keep checking the sky and the minute 3 clouds look like they’ll circle I’m stopping at a farm house and making new friends. There’s only one problem occasionally you can see a distant farm house. Most are a good 3/4 of a mile back off the road. But I notice one thing, none of them have driveways on this road. By the time I see the first driveway it’s exactly 11 miles into the 20. There’s no chance of seeking shelter at the farmer in the dell !!! We’ve got no out, it’s wheat as far as you can see every stinking where. It’ll be stop, drop and roll before you buy the farm !! All we can think about is hammer. This is a type of riding I don’t think I’ve done before. It’s a mix of emotions for sure, scary yeah as the big rigs rattle you silly at times but also kinda fun. Anyway we pulled into Dodge and the next thing we are sitting eating Thai food for a late lunch. Yesterday 7 or 8 tornadoes swept right thru where we just rode thru and tonight’s warnings are up. Hello Kansas.
Yesterday’s twisters taken from our new local friends house. Thanks Rachell for sharing these
The long horn cattle statue
Welcome to Didge City
The Daltons Gangs escape tunnel