INTO THE RIDE #81
RANS Rally 2009
Riding the Kansas Prairie and Dining on Purple Cole Slaw
by Randy Schlitter
The tour ended and a bunch of us decided to ride down to a local microbrewery to check out the food and beverages. It was a good mix of riders from all over, and of course the conversations ranged as widely. Cyclists tend to lead interesting lives; maybe it is because we are a part of everything we ride through – maybe that adds somehow to our character? Or it could have been the beer… naw! Cyclists have character with or without the brew. It is now officially over, three days of riding, demos, and getting to know the people who own and ride our bikes. We hope everyone headed home or to other points, tired and happy. The weather was outstanding; what a way to spend a Labor Day weekend! Kansas was not itself, giving us three days of cool weather and light-to-no wind.
We started the event with a Friday PM Ice cream ride to a local old-fashion soda shoppe. The treats were excellent and our group of at least twenty tooled back to the factory in time for a tour. The group was shown the intricate meshing of both bike and aircraft production. Both products work well together since they require lightweight hi-strength design and balance.
A ride at 6:30 pm consisted of an Historical ride around Hays. Even for us Hays people we learned a lot from Sue Boldra who led the group. Wow! Dodge City Kansas has nothing on us! We cruised by Boot Hill, where Squirrel Tooth Annie and 136 others are buried. This lady of the night attemped suicide after a patron slashed her face. The Attempt failed, since she jumped from only a second story window, only to later die of an illness. That was just one sample of the characters of the wild west that lived and carved out our history.
Saturday opened with a fog that faded fast and left cool temps and little wind. The first on the scene was a local reporter; we ended up on the front page of the local Sunday paper. The feature photo was of a woman riding a Fusion, with a long skirt! Some took the short loop, and others cruised to the first small town, where a soaring limestone Cathedral waited. We toured the inside in hushed reverence. The stained glass and lofty ceiling was inspiring, ever more so knowing this was built by local farmers not exactly overflowing with funds at the time. Churches were the anchors in the 1800’s, and the connection to all of life’s dealings on the prairie. You could sense this in the fact the place was grand beyond anything else in town, or nearby. Later we headed south and off in the distance the spires of the Cathedral of the Plains could be seen through the haze, looking far away. One of the cyclists I rode with was amazed at the expanse of our morning travels. He was new to cycling and having a great time, and to see the spires off in the distance, after having been there, really made an impression.
I rode sweep and made sure none of the group ended up lost, pretty hard to do on the high plains, but some managed “extra” miles, and of course claimed it was all intended. The lunch on Saturday was not the stellar performance we had hoped for, the restaurant assigned only a single waitress and the food was sub par; I took notes to self, for future rallies avoid places that cannot feed hungry cyclists fast!
Despite the delays in food service we made it back to the factory to give another group a tour and then the most intense bike demo session ever started. I was like rush hour on bents and CF’s. There was even the whooshing sound of two coupled-together Trizards ripping around the corner at full speed, tires screaming…that got your attention! We hope the video we shot captures this.
I think everyone rode everything. As I write this Monday PM, I am still able to walk among the random scatter of bikes all over the assembly hall, strewn about like a frat house party aftermath. I elected to leave it that way so our staff can see we played hard and made good use of the space.
Around 6:00 PM on Saturday the attendees gathered at our house just across the street from the plant. I invited the neighbors to more or less warn them of the impending crowd, but I think we were all surprised. Cars were parked blocks well past the yard frontage, and bikes sprinkled the lawn; it was wonderfully animated. People socialized and enjoyed the very fine dining Kim, Kerri and Marianne had cooked up. Kelvin from AngleTech was blown away by the purple Cole-slaw, and again the crowd ate like hungry cyclists. The feast included brats, BBQ beef, and many fresh fruits and veggie salads, with homemade cookies and brownies.
Riders line up for food!
Again the weather was on phenomenally good behavior as sunlight, puffy clouds, cool temps, and a gentle breeze ushered in an enjoyable evening. The party climaxed with the raffle for prizes. We of course put a twist on things; by drawing the winner of the bike first and not revealing the name until after all the other prizes were drawn. We could not believe the winner of the bike! Kim almost fell in the pool with surprise, as it turned out to be our mutual dear friend Allan. He had been telling Kim all day he was going to win the bike. He had bought only (1) ticket! Alan left the party right after dining, due to a long drive home and said to call him when he won. Kim laughed and said “Sure will Allan” Well I guess he did get that phone call on the way home!
Winner of the bike:
We failed to record all the people that won misc. prizes but had some lucky winners that won twice! Husband and wife, Kim and Bruce Herbert from Devens, MA sent in their money and won I think a RANS Jacket and T-shirt.
The evening wound down soon after sunset, as there was an 8:00 AM ride launch, and we wanted to be ready. (The Sunday ride was longer and more hills.) Sunday showed up with fog, and our group of 40 to 50 launched about 8:45 (these things never happen on time do they?). We rode into a cool and light SE breeze and lifted fog. The group thinned out fast as the lead group was going to burn up the miles. I ran sweep for a while until another rider offered to bring up the tail. I caught up a couple on a Screamer and two long wheel base bents and had a good time conversing as we cruised. We used the tailwind to cover the longest east bound leg, and the hilly run north. Then typical Kansas weather returned, as we headed east the wind and temps came up. An easterly whipped out a good fight against our cruising speed, adding 20 minutes to the ETA. Some had finished and departed, the remaining group headed to the planned lunch spot, where we had excellent service and eats. We lingered a while re-capping the rally events, the fun of the rides, and joy of making new friends. We all hope to meet again, maybe next year! This could become a tradition, maybe every other year if not annually.We went into the RALLY with the hope of riding with at least a dozen or so and ended up being a group of 75 on Saturday and 50 on Sunday. All the riding was on low traffic routes, and in great weather, something we cannot offer 100% next time. I was sure Kansas would deal us a mixed hand, more like high winds and temps, maybe some rain, but to have this cool weather coupled with low winds, well it may have left an impression that we live in a “good weather state”. No doubt many knew this to be a lucky draw, but I hope if we do rally again, just the fact of being together with a fun bunch is enough to entice. We can always challenge the conditions and earn our bragging rights after the ride.
To all our staff, a huge thanks; they volunteered their time for the cause. And to those who ventured the miles to middle America, we were so happy to have met you and spend time riding and getting to know the fine folks who have chosen cycling as a major pastime. Until next time ride safe and stay into the ride!