“P” may be for Ponca City, but for the September 16th Tom Kat ride, “P” was also for Perfect as we couldn’t have ordered up a more spectacular day for riding. Clear skies, bright sunshine and not a breath of wind. I would even go so far as to say that might have been the warmest Tom Kat ride we’ve ever had. While most of us rode to the QuikTrip in Derby with jackets, they were quickly shed and we never saw them again. Some of us packed our jackets in our saddle bags prior to leaving for the ride. Not so with Nellie Taylor! She took off her jacket and stowed it in between her bike and windshield…while riding to Ponca City! That’s some skill right there! That would have been a lost jacket if it were me.
When my Tom Kat, Greg, and I arrived at the QT at 8:30 on the dot, Kim Jones and Kathryn Langrehr were already there. “How come you guys are here so early?” I asked. Kim responded, “We had to stake out our No Tom Kat Zone. Here’s the line (which she designated with her foot) and don’t you even think about crossing it if you got a man with you!” Duly noted Kim and Kathryn!
Within minutes, beautiful bike after beautiful bike came pouring into the parking lot and just like Kim, we had our parking zone clearly designated…that is until a big ole rig pulled right smack dap in the middle of it. Obviously, the driver doesn’t adhere to rules like the Kitties and Tom Kats do! Fortunately, he didn’t stay long and we filled it up to guarantee that wouldn’t happen again.
After making our greetings, getting beverages, breakfast burritos and donuts, I pulled out the flamed bag and starting pimping 50/50 tickets. After witnessing my juggling struggle of tea, the bag, my phone, the tickets and money, Kathryn Langrehr said, “You are bound to drop something, so why don’t you let me sell the tickets?” I was happy to turn that over to Kathryn, who quickly enlisted the help of Annette South, and I proceeded to snap picture after picture. As I watched the time and took roll call, I noticed that a potential new member/guest rider and her Tom Kat, who I didn’t know and no one knew, weren’t there. I checked every method for her to contact me and nope, not a word. At this point, if she wasn’t on her way (in which case she wouldn’t see any messages from me), she wouldn’t make it on time. I held a brief meeting to divide up the groups and announced that since the MIA rider was the reason we were stopping in Ark City for gas, we would no longer need to do that. As we biked up to leave with Nellie Taylor’s Tom Kat, JT (who was caging it), in the lead of the first group and my Tom Kat, Greg, and I in the lead of the second group, I crossed my fingers that we weren’t leaving Mr. and Mrs. MIA behind.
Greg and I quickly lost sight of the first group and we all settled in for a gorgeous ride in the Kansas countryside while George Michael, Neil Diamond, Air Supply and Whitney Houston pumped music into my ears. Hey, don’t judge! It’s my playlist and I make no apologies for my music taste, or lack thereof! As we got closer and closer to the Oklahoma state line, I was watching my handlebar-mounted clock and I could see that by skipping the gas stop in Ark City, we were gong to be WAY early for our 11:30 reservation at the El Patio Mexican Grill and Cantina. In fact, they might not even be open yet! That was an epic fail on the trip planner’s timeline which was, of course, developed by yours truly. Had I thought of that sooner, we could have had a second beverage, a second breakfast burrito and several more donuts at the QuikTrip. At my first opportunity, I told Greg the situation and he suggested we go ahead and get gas for the return trip. Sounds like a plan to me! Of course, I then stressed over the fact that the first group would be wondering and worried over what happened to us. Now I’m stressed over Mr. and Mrs. MIA and what the other group might be thinking at the same time. Fortunately, Freddy Mercury helped eased my anxiety. Hey, I said no judging!
After a quick gas stop, we pulled into the El Patio parking lot where the first group was lounging on a bench and curbs and chatting with one another. Not one person seemed to be worried about what happened to us. Clearly, I way overthink things. No sooner had we pulled in the parking lot, along came Sherri Carver and her friend, Cheryl Volk. Is it confusing to have a friend with almost the exact same name? Sherri and Cheryl had ridden in from Oklahoma City and although they were in the same state, they actually rode further than we did! And this is why we call Sherri “Hard Core!”
I then went inside the restaurant and said, “I know we’re super early, but I wanted you to know that the Krome Kitties are here so when you’re ready, we’re ready.” I gotta give mad props to the wait staff as they directed us to the el patio for al fresco dining (yes, I’m fully aware that I mixed two countries in the same sentence, but that’s how multi-cultural I am) and scrambled to get tables arranged in the shade for 23 people and menus in all of our hands. And the scrambling didn’t end there. They scurried about to keep chip baskets, salsa dishes and drinks full. And amazingly, all 23 delicious meals came out at the same time! This was even more remarkable when some of us went inside to use the restroom and saw the entire restaurant was packed! This definitely deserves a five-star rating on Kelp, which is the Krome Kitty restaurant rating system. That I just invented. That we should start using. Because it’s better than Yelp.
After digging out all the cash from the flamed bag, I turned it over to Bobbie Cole to count and there was 110 smackeroos in there! That meant that some lucky Kitty or Tom Kat was going home with 55 of them! I gave David Carruthers the honors of drawing the ticket. Why David, you ask? Well, even though his Kitty, Tricia, couldn’t attend the ride, David said he still wanted to go and he brought his friend Joe, too! I figured any Tom Kat who attended the Tom Kat ride without being forced….uh, I mean, accompanied by a Kitty deserves some special recognition. And apparently, he deserves being paid, too, because he drew his very own ticket! David made me promise to not tell Tricia he won so I’m hoping by the time this is published, he has long spent the money and Tricia can’t confiscate it from him. If not, well…my bad David!
And then it was time to reunite the pint-sized Tom Kats and I gotta say the Friedman Tom Kat is a little worse for wear compared to all the other still shiny, still got all their faces on, and still talking Tom Kats. Thank you to Dorrin Allsman, Jim Moreland, and Al Brumbaugh for taking such good care of your Toms! JT Taylor, shame on you! When I asked where his Tom Kat was, he said, “I don’t know. The last time I saw him, he was in a storage compartment in the Slingshot.” I asked, “You have no idea where he could be?” To which JT replied, “Probably still in the Slingshot…which has been sold…to a stranger.” Oh, the horror! We did a photo shoot with the little guys and they said their good-byes for another year. I hope the Friedman Tom Kat still has a face by then.
And speaking of photo shoot, several of us couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be an ass on an ass! I’m not sure if El Patio intended for the donkey in the courtyard to be sat upon, but you put something like that in front of a bunch of Krome Kitties (and a Tom Kat) and you’re just begging for us to climb on it. Just ask Lindsborg about their Dala horses!
After cleaning our plates, or to-going what we couldn’t eat, we settled up the tabs, hit the restroom one last time and made our way to the bikes where they were sitting in the much hotter sun than it was when we arrived. We herded the Kitties and Tom Kats for a group picture and then reassembled into our groups again for the return trip home.
When I got on my bike and turned the ignition switch, all I got was a whole lot of nothing. I did it again…and again…and again with the same result. The assumption was I had a dead battery, but no worries – I’ve got tools and jumper cables and plenty of bikes to get me jumped. I told everyone to go ahead and leave and Greg and I would ride back with David Carruthers and his friend, Joe, who were in the meantime, helping Greg get my bike seat off and getting tools out. As I was telling Christine Allsman what happened, she said, “You know it’s the strangest thing, when I went to turn my ignition switch, it had been flipped to the accessory setting, which I would never do. Someone must have messed with it.” Who would be brave enough to mess with a bike when it’s accompanied by two dozen other bikes and they don’t know that we’re not the Sons of Anarchy? That’s just crazy!
Well, they were doubly crazy, because after Greg and Joe got everything disassembled from my bike, we realized the exact same thing had happened to my bike and I was using muscle memory to flip the ignition, which resulted in it being turned off rather than being turn on. I take full responsibility for being a dunce, but who would do that? Must have been a PO’d cager for us taking up most of the parking spots! Anywhoo, by the time we got my bike put back together again, there was just the four of us remaining and we made our way back to Wichita and thankfully, I don’t have to buy a new battery! But I am an idiot, so there is that.
So, there you have it! Another fun, gorgeous day on the bikes with our husbands, boyfriends, friends and family on the annual Tom Kat ride. Thank you to all those who made the day so memorable and enjoyable! And thank you to the ride leaders, Greg and JT, and to the ride sweeps, Nellie Taylor, Al and Dorrin for getting us there safely and without one missed turn.
Oh, and what happened to Mr. and Mrs. MIA? Well, I reached out to her after we returned from the ride and she said she didn’t know where to go or what time. “Really? I emailed you with all the details and you even responded.” I said. Pause. Pause. Pause. “Oh yeah, I totally forgot you emailed me. I went back to look and sure enough, there’s two emails from you. I guess it had it all along. I must have had a blonde moment.” Well, congratulations on trumping my bike ignition blunder!
Those on board for the South of the Border Tom Kat ride were Janice and Greg Friedman, Nellie and JT Taylor, Tresny and John Janzen, Christine and Dorrin Allsman with Zach Herman, Linda and Jim Moreland, Kari and Daryl Miller, Bobbie Cole and Al Brumbaugh, Sherri Carver and Cheryl Volk, Kathryn Langrehr, Kim Jones, Chris Emond, Annette South, David Carruthers and Joe Erdman.