Up until a few days before the June 22nd road trip, we had 18 Kitties signed up to go. The night before, as I was packing up Kitty shirts in my T-Bag, I started getting text after text from ladies who needed to cancel for one reason or another. Wait a minute? What’s this one all about? “I won’t be able to make it tomorrow due to the wind.” I had a little conversation in my head along the lines of…”Wind? Is it supposed to be windy tomorrow? Huh, I hadn’t heard.”
“Windy.” There has to be a better word for what it was like on that Saturday afternoon riding through southwest Kansas. Blustery, squall, gale force, tornado, microburst, hurricane – yeah, those are all better words. Still don’t believe me when I say it was brutal? How ‘bout if I told you I saw the stars and stripes blow right off Christine Allsman’s bike mounted flag? Believe me now?
Eleven Kitties gathered at the QuikTrip that morning, blissfully unaware of what was in store for us. I peddled shirts out of my T-Bag; Nellie Taylor told us of her encounter with a bee in her shirt on the way to meet us; we drank coffee; I bitched about how QT was out of teabags; we had our safety briefing and off we went.
We rode and blew for miles and miles when all of a sudden, we saw the sign “12 Miles to the State Line.” My first thought was “what State?” My second thought was “It doesn’t matter what state, we weren’t supposed to leave Kansas!” It was then that I looked ahead and saw Christine Allsman give the hand signal for “we gotta turn around.” I wish I could say that we were like synchronized swimmers and all gracefully made the turn around as one cohesive unit. That would be lying. It was more like kicking over an ant hill and seeing them all scatter in a dozen directions – well, in our case – eleven directions. We were on a narrow little two lane road with absolutely no shoulder. As I was sizing up how to go about getting myself turned around, I witnessed Colleen Williams making the “U” not quite tight enough and take that big ole Harley down into a ditch and back up again with feet a flyin’. Note to self: don’t do that. As was bound to happen when you’re trying to maneuver a bike on a tight “U” turn in blustery, squall, gale force, tornado, microburst, hurricane conditions, a bike was dumped. Owner of said dumped bike will remain anonymous, but thanks to Sue Morrissey and no thanks to the moron in the white pick-up truck who sat and watched these two women pick up a motorcycle by themselves, everyone was back on their way.
The AC at the Ranch House in Ashland was a welcomed relief and we filled up on some pretty darn good food. The dessert was to die for, despite the fact that we (or maybe that was just me) insisted on seeing it before we (or maybe that was just me) would order. Yep, they don’t call me High Maintenance Janice for nothing!
Following lunch, we snickered at the really bizarre ladies room (I don’t care how much I like you, we ain’t sharing), reapplied healthy doses of sunscreen and biked up for the 60-mile trip to Greensburg. Come on girls! We got places to GO! The Big Well is awaitin’! Everyone fired up their bikes, revved their engines and pulled out onto the main street. Where’s Sue Morrissey? I looked back over my shoulder and see what appeared to be Sue taking her bike seat off. Uh oh. This can’t be good.
Dead was the only word that can be used to describe Sue’s battery. Jumping was the only way we were going anywhere. Kari Miller rode down the street to a gas station to see if she could borrow some jumper cables. I’m not sure what Kari paid, traded, gave away, or promised, but she came back with a man in a red pick-up who jumped at the chance to jump Sue. Wait…that didn’t come out right. Soon, we were on our way once again, getting more and more excited about the Big Well! Oh, and not to give away the reason for the dead battery, but Sue’s new nickname is Lights Off Sue. Just sayin’….
Once we turned onto Highway 54, the blustery, squall, gale force, tornado, microburst, hurricane conditions really came to play! I was so concerned about being blown into Nebraska, I initially didn’t notice the extreme vibration on my bike. Holy cow! The Highway Department needs to come fix this damn road! Then I noticed that Pauline Couch, who was riding in front of me, wasn’t bouncing all over the place like I was. Crap! That can only mean one thing. I flipped on my blinker at the first opportunity and the sweep rider…you guessed it, Sue Morrissey, followed in behind me. I don’t know much about bike mechanics (remember, I’m High Maintenance Janice), but even I knew this was one flat tire. We tried putting air in it to see if I could limp from town to town, but as quick as I (or rather Sue – back to the High Maintenance Janice thing) put in the air, it came whooshing back out.
I was running scenarios through my head of what to do when a total stranger walked up and asked what the problem was. We explained the situation and without hesitation, he said, “I gotta bike trailer. I could take you home.” Let’s be clear that “home” was Wichita and Wichita was 120 miles away. He said no problem. Sue immediately pulled me aside and said there’s only one reason a man would go out of his way to help a total stranger and you’re High Maintenance Janice – you won’t like it.
We compromised and agreed that I would crawl into the cab of this total stranger’s pick-up truck and Sue would ride behind us to make sure that Mr. Nice Guy didn’t get any Mr. Bad Guy ideas. The rest of the Kitties had ridden on to Greensburg and were waiting patiently for instructions. It was reported that tears of utter and complete despair were shed when they found out that the tour of the Big Well would have to wait for another day. The rest of the group would all fall in behind the truck with Sue and escort me home. It was further reported that Maureen Stout was nearly inconsolable when she found that I got to get in a truck with air conditioning and no wind issuesl Sometimes life just isn’t fair, it is Maureen?
On Saturday, June 22, 2013, God put the right person in the right place at the right time. His name was Randall Somerhalder. The once total stranger had now become a road angel and friend. We chatted about all sorts of things during our 120-mile journey and I felt like I knew all about him and he about me. After dropping me off at my front door, we hugged and waved good-bye and he started off on his 120-mile return trip home.
Those on board for the Oh Well, No Well trip were Janice Friedman, Christine Allsman, Nellie Taylor, Dawn Morse, Colleen Williams, Maureen Stout, Kari Miller, Melaina Phares, Jean Taylor, Sue Morrissey and Pauline Couch.