Tour of Kansas on dirt

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by gagnaou, May 12, 2014.

  1. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    Before I get to the good part, let me give you a little bit of background information. Last fall as I was back home, a cousin of mine told me he was going to fly over and come visit! He and I have been riding bike together as far back as when I started riding and everytime I go back home he manages to find me a bike to use so that we can ride together. This was the excuse I needed to upgrade my good old 950. So I got myself a new bike and the plan was to sell my 950 after our week of travelling was over. Plane ticket was bought, bikes were prep and 2 weeks before arrival he had to cancel. On top of that I had share my riding plan with my good riding buddy RVsparky and he was to ride with us for at least some of our travel.

    I had already had to cancel one adventure on RVsparky and I was not going to let it happen this time since most everything had been planned. Since the plans had changed we now had the flexibility of what we were going to do. The week before the trip I was still undecided if we will load up the bikes in a UHaul and deliver the 950 to its new owner in California and ride back home or do something else. Not finding a cost effective way to get us and the bikes to California decided for us. I pulled out an old route I had created years ago on a grey winter day wishing I could be on my bike.

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    We will be taking a stab at making the tour of Kansas happen. The idea behind it was to stay within a few miles of the border of the state and making it all the way around. This was mainly to give direction to the ride and forced us to go through places that we would have typically bypassed to get to "neater" places, and by doing so we were pleasantly suprised in a few occasions.

    So let me introduce the protagonists.

    RVsparky:

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    The greatest riding buddy anybody would want. First of all he always wants to ride and does not mind riding 4 hours to get to your place... Second, he is always happy, you want to go fast he wants to go fast, you want to stop and look at the scenery so does he. And most of all he is a master at fixing flats :evil

    And then there is me

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    a few teaser pictures

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    #1
  2. ZeWhiteRabbit

    ZeWhiteRabbit Kansas Dualsporter

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    Wichita, Kansas
    Looks like fun. Can't wait to hear about this adventure! :lurk
    #2
  3. KCArborist

    KCArborist n00b

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    Happy Rock, MO
    Awesome! Subscribed.
    #3
  4. fifthcircle

    fifthcircle Beer Knurd

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    Ditto! :clap
    #4
  5. ajayhawkfan

    ajayhawkfan Rock Chalk

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    I have been all over Kansas and have visited every county in the State. Sense visiting every country I have thought may times about circumnavigating the State but have not done it, yet.

    Looking forward to reading your report.
    #5
  6. Ks-Rydr

    Ks-Rydr from the land of Toto

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    I'm in... I too have thought about something very simular to what you are describing here, so I'll be very interested in seeing how you do and what you find.
    #6
  7. JeeBee

    JeeBee Been here awhile

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    Cool, I'll be watching this one.
    #7
  8. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    The week before the trip was pretty hectic on my hand, I had to get ready at work, and in the evening had to do the first service on the bike. Mounted a radiator protection, the bad fuel dongle and a couple of knobby tires as we did not know what to expect.
    I got up at 5 on Monday morning but still struggled to be ready by 9 when RVsparky showed up and he was coming all the way from SW KS the day before...

    We attempted to transfer the route to his GPS as well but were not successful. That is okay I will just have to sacrifice myself and lead out of the dust :rofl

    We left around 10 heading North out of Manhattan and as soon as we hit the Nebraska border we jump on the dirt to a beautiful road. Rodger is beaming as we stopped to let a tractor go over that bridge.

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    So far things are going pretty good and we waste no time, we stop for lucnh in Falls City.

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    I apologize for the lack of pictures but unfortunately we probably did not stop as often as we should have had.

    We eventually make it to White cloud

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    From there on we head south taking some really neat roads, I had seen pictures of those roads from some of the KS rider but had never been there myself, it was pretty neat going through those roads that have been carved deep below where the soil level used to be. This is also when my route planning shows its first limitations, we had to back track a few times as where the road was once upon a time is not there anymore and Mr. Farmer won't be happy if we plow through his fields.

    We finally jump on the levies for a little while


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    They started as well established and travel roads and then went on to become less and less traveled. And eventually a no trespassing sign appeared so we just turn around to find another way.

    Here I am after turning around heading for the closest way out

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    After a few more turn around, we got on a nice road that follows the river at a distance and we make it to Atchinson for the night.

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    #8
  9. fifthcircle

    fifthcircle Beer Knurd

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    So...if I make a route that loops Nebraska, you wanna go? :D
    #9
  10. SherretHill

    SherretHill VStromer

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    Happy Trails! :lurk
    #10
  11. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    Maybe, time allowing. I sure though can share the tracks and route I have for the northern part of Kansas.
    #11
  12. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    I knew that day one was not going to be a great mileage day as the more populated the area you travel, the more complicated is the navigation and the more chances that your route will get messed up. I believe that we only rode between 200 and 250 miles that day and my route according to Garmin was 1,600 miles.

    On day 2, we decided to make some time and bypass Kansas City completely so we took the fastest way from Atchinson to Olathe and then tried to get back on the route I had planned. While I do not have pictures to show it, that day for me was striking by the difference in the standard of leaving of people. In the morning, south of Kansas city perfect surburbia looking houses, 3 stories high, lawn and landscape looking like a golf course and later on that day going through some pretty desolate town in SE KS where there are a lot of abandoned houses falling apart and some that you wonder how people can live in them.


    Anyway, back on the ride side of things, as we are heading south at a good clip on gravel roads I hit a water crossing and stop at the other side to take a picture of RVsparky.

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    As I try to pull out my camera I see a white SUV coming at a pretty good clip and stop by RVsparky and talk to him. I later learn that it was the sheriff. Apparently a 4 wheeler had been stolen not very long ago and he saw our dust and thought we were the people he was looking for. Anyway he instructed us to let him know if we saw a 4 wheeler on a trailer behind a blue pick up. We did not see anything looking like that that day.

    RVsparky after his conversation with the sheriff


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    I thought we could make it to Baxter Spring for a late lunch but after a few dead ends, we had to reconsider that and settled for a nice Mexican place in Frontenac.

    Pictures of RVSparky soon after we passed the Marais des Cygnes massacre site

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    After lunch we kept on heading south and went by a multitude of huge water ditches, not sure what they are, is it what is left of some coal or limestone quarries? This was probably the best part of the day for me as it was very picturesque. Unfortunately no pictures of it.

    As we head south, I catch up behind a tractor pulling some kind of a sweep. Since I have been the one in his shoes in the past I know what to do. Be patient, wait for him to see that you are there and then he will slow down and hug a side so that you can go by him. So I wait, I put myself where he should see me the quickest, nothing happen, I try the turn signal, still not helping my case. We go through a 90 degree turn typically a great place to get noticed, nothing. another 90 degree turn nothing again...After 8-10 miles of this I finally find enough place to squeeze by him, but that apparently did not make RVsparky passing any easier. Mr. farmer must have had something against us, oh well I hope the rest of his day was better.

    We finally made it to the corner of the state, there, we meet a nice ADVrider as we stopped to get a drink at that gas station, I cannot remember his name, he is from Joplin. Since we cannot find a way to go to Baxter Spring to cross the river so we have to back track a little way. Going through Baxter spring we see where the tornado went through and hope that we will not pick up a nail or anything like that. Both RVsparky and I are puzzled to see that the Pizza hut is about the only building still standing in the path of the tornado...

    Then we start heading west and we make pretty good time as there are not very many direction changes... Though it is dusty and makes RVsparky's life miserable as he has to wait for my dust to settle and everyonce in a while between trees, it does not.

    As we go by this site by Chetopa, we stop for a few picures.

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    As I struggle to get my motorcycle out of the way to let the car that is coming go by I noticed he has a weird device on the roof. It is a google car! a prius on a gravel road quite a few miles from any paved road! Keep an eye out for it guys, we may in google street view at that point one of this day. RVsparky marked it on his GPS so we'll keep an eye out for it :rofl

    We finally make it to Coffeyville, it has been a pretty long day but we saw a lot of beautifful scenery and a change in the landscape.

    Here is the track of day 2 with a little bit of day 3

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    I need to get this RR done soon, my memory is starting to fail me :eek1
    #12
  13. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    Next morning we were on the road by 7 am. It was a beautiful morning and at the first stop RVsparky reflected on how it does not matter how long you rode the last day or how tired you were the morning rides are always the best. We finally get south of Elgin after having taken a nice small paved roads for a few miles.

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    Then probably the best part of the ride began, we are in open ranch country and cattle gate after cattle gate we enjoy the scenery. It is green, not windy and not hot yet quite the contrast with out west where RVsparky is coming from, he is having a blast!

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    We make it through a few creeks, rock bottom creeks.

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    While we do not make any progress going west, neither of us regret the ride as we went through amazing scenery.

    We stopped for a while regroup in Foraker and stopped by a couple of old rail road cars that are used to store hay.

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    we decide to head north and try just about every road that goes west until we get close enough to Cedar Vale that we decide to go and get gas.

    We see some remains of some old bridge or pipeline bridge above a small creek

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    We end up for lunch in Newkirk OK. This town is on the TAT and people of the town are proud of it, at least 4 or 5 persons ask us if we are doing the TAT and all have story to tell us about some riders that they talked to in the past. As we leave from lunch RVsparky rear is flat and mine is making the characteristic sound ofgetting ready to get there too. So he wipe out his tools and in no time we are back on the road. It sure would have taken us a lot longer had we had to take the wheels off to replace a tube...

    As we keep on going west, it keeps on getting drier and drier, wind is blowing at a pretty good clip and it is starting to get hot.

    As we cross 35 highway, we decide to stop at a gas station to cool down and for a drink. We are tossing the idea of maybe giving up this tour idea and going back to the flint hills where it is green and the riding good. We have both ridden quite a bit out west and knowing that we'd see more variety if we stay East. Regardless, the weather makes the decision for us as they forecast some severe thunderstorms the next day. So we decide to head west but to make time we jump on pavement. The ride actually ended up interesting as we were leaning all the way into the wind. There were places where I could not see RVsparky bike ahead of me because the dust was blowing so bad and at one point I almost went off the road as it was raining on us a and a wind gust used my panniers as a sail to move me around.

    We get to Elkhart just as the sun starts to head down, it was a pretty long day.

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    #13
  14. RZRob

    RZRob Long timer

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    Nice documenting, nice pics and nice bikes. A hill or two might be nice too, but I don't think Kansas has any. They've got steak soup though.

    Thanks for sharing.

    RZ Rob
    #14
  15. fifthcircle

    fifthcircle Beer Knurd

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    :rofl My legs were telling me a very different story during The Flint Hills Death Ride :deal

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    #15
  16. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    That is awesome, I did the death ride in 98 or 99, one of those year.

    yes for most people Kansas is western Kansas/eastern Colorado and they have not clue about everything east of Salina. Granted those are hills and not mountains, but still very nice to go through.

    How are you coming on your tour of Nebraska :wink
    #16
  17. fifthcircle

    fifthcircle Beer Knurd

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    I did it yesterday...you missed out. :lol3
    #17
  18. FirstPath

    FirstPath Long timer

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    This ride looks quite interesting. Thanks for sharing. What's the total miles aroundÂ… roughly?
    #18
  19. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    I did 1,800 but as you saw we ended up taking more paved roads that you would technically do, so I am guessing it would be in the 2,500 miles range total...
    #19
  20. JWhitmore44

    JWhitmore44 pistolero

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    I think most folks perception of Kansas is from I70. They took the flattest part of the state and paved it. Some of the original highways that follow stage routes, trails west, and train routes also followed river and creek bottoms.

    Nice RR :thumb
    #20