We darn near went to Coffeyville on June 21st. You see, back in 2004 the “C” ride was actually at the tail end of the season since the inaugural ride didn’t occur until August. Coffeyville was the pre-selected destination…until that is, we woke up that October morning and could see our breath outside. It took us about a nano-second to pull out the map (there was no such thing as Mapquest or Google maps back then) to point to some other town that started with a “C” that required less miles to travel. That “C” town was, you guessed it, Council Grove.
You’ve probably heard that old biker saying…you know, the one that says in cold weather whatever the air temperature is outside, deduct about 20 degrees and that‘s how it’ll feel when you’re at highway speed. Well, no one ever bothered to explain that to the three “brand new to cold riding” riders who showed up at the meeting location with nothing but a single layer long-sleeved Kitty shirt; a leather coat; chaps; and summer weight gloves. Not one person thought to advise those three Kitties that you’ll need Under Armor (or something similar) in addition to probably TWO more long-sleeved shirts; winter weight gloves, something around your neck and probably even something around your face. The other two more experienced riders (Regina and Monika) came well prepared for the weather with all their layers, and hoodies under leather, and heavy gloves, and neck protectors and facemasks, etc. etc. etc. Now in looking back, I understand why they were snickering at myself, Lori and Jeananne when they eyed our barely more than summer gear choices. My response to them? Hell, it’s only 100 miles…how bad can it be?
Bad. Really bad. Really, really bad. By the time we got to Newton, we were three frozen Kitties who no longer had any feeling in our hands, feet, faces, boobies and bellies. Lori and I decided a stop at the Newton Walmart was the only thing that was going to save us from ourselves. Regina and Monika schooled us on what we needed that could be purchased at a Walmart: woolen scarf around our neck; a sweatshirt to put on under our leather coat; Hot Hands to insert into our flimsy gloves and a bandana to wrap around our faces. After a quick cup of coffee, we biked back up and were on our way. I recall that we stopped twice before we got to Council Grove to warm up, but had it not been for our two educated riders, the “C” ride quite possibly would have been right back to our Couch.
Weather was not an issue on the more recent Council Grove ride. Sunny skies, warm, but not unbearably warm, temperatures and no wind made for a perfect riding day. Did I mention there was no wind??
It was a flurry of activity at the departure location with Lily selling raffle tickets; me selling new anniversary shirts; anniversary pins being sold faster than I could keep up with; everyone oohing and ahhing over not one, but TWO, new bikes that made their debut Kitty ride; hearing about Melaina’ s dilemma with a locked storm door that caused her whole family to be locked out and quite possibly being forced to spend the entire day in the garage with only a single bottle of water with which to survive; and welcoming back former Kitty Sueanne to the Litter. After I closed up shop for the day, we divided the group of 14 Kitties into two and off we went, but not without an incident, mind you. In Group One, we had Nellie throwing hardware at Sue when her heel shifter lever came flying off (and yes, Eagle Eye Sue found it and returned it to its rightful owner.) In Group Two of which I was a part, lead rider Christine pulled over to lead us in some spontaneous Yoga exercises. Really? Here? Right now? Not getting any takers and with her back sufficiently stretched out, we got back on our way.
After 100 miles of seriously perfect riding, we approached the sleepy, quiet town of Council Grove, Kansas. Wait…what the hell? I had already been imagining the easy “even Janice can do it” parking in the slanted stalls right outside the historic Hayes House restaurant when we arrived. What is going on? Why are there cars in my stalls?? Why are there people and bicycles and baby strollers and tent vendors ever-y-where?? Why is there even a flippin’ traffic jam, for crying out loud?? Are they all here to see us?? I’m not naming names, but I’m pretty sure I heard someone say, “No, Miss It’s Not Always All About You, of course not. It’s their annual Founders Day Festival or something like that.” In the end, the Kitties managed to squeeze 14 bikes in spaces that should have held five and we put our bikes’ and helmets’ safety into the hands of the closest vendor and went in search of the Hayes House.
The crowds of outside spilled into the inside of the Hayes House and it looked like a Mexican restaurant on Cinco De Mayo. There probably hasn’t been that many people in that restaurant since well, the last Founders Day, or whatever it was, Festival. Fortunately, I had the good sense to have made a reservation and we were escorted like the Princesses that we are to our waiting tables. Score one for the Kitties!
The more than usual large crowd caused a more than usual long wait for our food, but we kept ourselves entertained with admiring Suz’s fabulous bling job on her KKMC bandana ( I understand she would love to do this for anyone who asks because she loves tedious, time consuming projects like this) and listening to the quite frankly, frightening story of how Linda terrorized a family in a black Suburban while she chased them down on her Moped with its horrifying horn that goes “beep beep.”
And of course, the highlight of all the Kitty lunches is revealing the winner of the 50/50 raffle. I counted out the cold, hard cash and announced there was a total of $66.00, so one very fortunate Kitty was going home with a full belly and $33.00. Linda had the honors of pulling the winning ticket who belonged to….drumroll please….Kari! Sueanne had an Aha moment (or maybe it was more of a senior moment) when she realized she had both sides of her tickets and therefore, had about a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. Oops!
After splitting pieces of pie or wishing you had split a piece of pie instead of eating the whole thing, we went downstairs to recreate the 2004 moment of being photographed sitting on the bar. Turns out you really can’t fit 14 Kitties as easily ON the bar as you can five, so we more like just gathered around it. Our photographer/laundry person gave us a little history lesson about the Tavern, which interestingly enough, had installed the old brick from Main St. onto the floors. Sue provided some important information on group riding, such as commonly used hand signals, maintaining consistent and appropriate speed, keeping a tight pack, and how to avoid flying metal parts. Thank you, Sue!
All too soon, it was time to leave the chaos of Council Grove behind and return to peaceful Wichita. Altering our route for the return trip, we travelled on Highway 177, which has to be some of the prettiest scenery in Kansas. The abundance of recent rain has painted everything a brilliant emerald green and it reminded me why I love riding so much. In that environment and seeing all the wonderful women ahead of me, I was bursting with pride for what we’ve created and kept alive for 10 years. I want to thank each and every one of you for that. Kitties Rock!
Those on board for the Chaos and Craziness in Council Grove were Janice, Kari, Maureen, Suz, Nellie, Lily, Dawn, Christine, Linda, Paula, Denise, Sue, Sueanne and Sandy.
Janice – KKMC Founder