Last Sunday I took a much needed ride. As I mentioned in the last post, we had a little drama in the Benjamin house and it had been awhile since I was able to take a really nice, long, all day bike ride. My Adventure Monkey was making those screeching monkey noises and rattling its cage inside me. It needed to be fed and fed well. Not just a few miles on pavement, but many miles on gravel to places that I have not been before. That is exactly what transpired. I am writing this on Tuesday and my Adventure Monkey is still napping happily from this ride. Here’s the story and images.
I went to the bike shop last week to purchase a few things and talk to Matt. I wonder if it bothers him that wannabe cyclists like myself show up to ask questions and discuss things for hours on end. I’m sure he has something better to do than entertain me. The discussion took many turns including gear, why cyclists shave their legs, the huge amount of hair on mine and a new route to take on my next ride.
Drawing on a county map, he showed me where an abandoned missile silo was along with the Rails to Trails trail. Hmmm, that would make a great bike ride, a little over 50 miles or so. That’s where I planned to go.
Taking Road 180 away from my house, I turned onto Road B and soon was in new territory since I don’t usually turn there. I bore easily and I was enjoying the unknown road. It was already beginning to feel like an adventure. It was 20 something degrees outside when I left, but about eight miles in I had to stop and take off my outer jacket. Clipping into my pedals, I realized I didn’t shift to an easier gear when I stopped and I suddenly found myself off balance and falling. It happened. I finally fell over in my clipless pedals. Luckily I fell into a soft bed of weeds and was fine, just a little shaken up and glad nobody saw that happen. I must have looked really stupid starting to pedal and then falling over. I think the little fall shook me up enough to release some adrenaline because after that I was riding pretty strong, or maybe I just wanted to get out of there before someone made fun of me.
The Fargo on the entrance to the Rails to Trails on Road D
Rails to Trails entrance from Road D
I can almost see an old steam engine chugging down the tracks
After conquering a few sweet hills overlooking more miles of prairie, I crossed HWY 56 feeling strong. I must say the Fargo with the Brooks Champion Flyer Special saddle is a very comfortable ride. In fact I think only sitting on a lazy boy recliner getting fat would be more comfortable. In the past, my rear would always hurt after 30 miles and even at the end of this ride my rear and I were feeling fine. And the clipless pedals (which you clip into and become attached to the bike) helped me concentrate on pedaling more efficiently up hills. I was unquestionably enjoying my new Fargo, saddle, and clipless pedals.
I slowed to check the map and look over Matt’s chicken scratch which told me where to find the old nuclear missile silo. As I came to a stop, the side of the road had big chunky gravel and dirt clods on it and wouldn’t you know it, I forgot to unclip out of my pedal and I just laughed this time as I fell to the ground. Twice in one day – sweet. Hopefully I am done with that.
I kept riding until I came upon a mysteriously paved path in the middle of nowhere. I knew I was on the right track. I continued riding until I came to this…
What used to be a guarded fortress in the middle of the prairie
A NO TRESPASSING sign and an open gate – seemed like a good idea to go in and check it out
There was all kinds of evil and menacing graffiti spray painted on the walls. I could hear a door creaking in the wind. I felt an overall uncomfortable feeling there. I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to things like that but I had a sense of dread being there. It shouldn’t suprise me though since a weapon of mass destruction was stored at the ready here in the 1960′s and since its decommissioning who knows what kinds of things happened out there. After coming home and doing some research I found this article and remembered the high school boy from Council Grove that was shot and killed there by the land owner, tired of kids partying on his land. Hmmm, creeps me out even more now. His name was spray painted on the walls along with other disturbing graffiti. As I walked throught the pitch black tunnel I kept repeating “God is my God” to calm me down or protect me or both. I was glad to get out of those tunnels!
A manway and lookout post
The fargo on the way to the reinforced bunker
The Fargo ready for launch sir
The Fargo next to the graffiti – “The Butcher is Vanquished”
A look into the missile coffin
huge room with weird “windows”
panorama of the building connected to where the missile was kept
An exit into the missile coffin area
creepy pitch black tunnel – I used my headlight as a flashlight and hoped I wouldn’t see any zombies
the tunnel turned here and kept going, I could hear a creaky door blowing in the wind
walking down the creepy tunnel led to these flooded rooms
A look coming out of the creepy tunnels and I was fully ready to get out of there
Where the missle would have stood when upright and ready to launch
Inside the missile coffin
There were a few of these manholes around the missile silo
missile silo overlooking the peaceful prairie
I was completely creeped out by the old missile silo but was curious about them and found that people are turning them into houses HERE and click for more info and pictures HERE and HERE. Reading this, I see that this type of missle silo was called a coffin launcher. Hmmm, nice.
I rode back the way I came until I got to the Rails to Trails entrance again. I got on and headed west expecting to hit a side road at some point and ride towards home. Little did I know this railroad track didn’t cross any roads for quite awhile. I was little worried that I would ride all the way to Council Grove before seeing another road. I was mainly worried not because I am a wimp so much, but I had the urge to go to the bathroom, pretty strong urge too. There was as much privacy as I could ever wish for, but without paper or wipes, I didn’t want to chance it. I have seen what a dirty bottom did to my kids’ butts when they were in diapers and I wasn’t in the mood for that, ok enough of that discussion. From now on I will bring some wipes.
The Rails to Trails followed a ride through the hills and the scenery was really breathtaking. The farther west I rode, the more the trail looked unkept. Soon I was riding over branches and weeds and stopping to get some branches out of my spokes. At least the gravel wasn’t so loose since it was covered over a little bit. I finally took a muddy path off the trail to get on a road and head back home. Someday soon I am planning on starting in Bushong and riding all the way to Council Grove on the Rails to Trails trail. I bet that would be a sweet ride. It’s pretty flat but to be in the middle of the Flint Hills on an old railway is just cool.
Surrounded by limestone walls
A cut through the hills
Lone Winter Tree
In all my exploring and picture taking, I ended up riding for a long time. I should have brought double the food that I did. I was on an unknown road heading in the general direction that I needed to go to get home and I was starting to get very hungry. I happened upon Dunlap Road and finally knew where I was. I ended up in the town of Dunlap which is nothing more than a few lived in houses and many abandoned houses and structures. It struck me kinda weird that such a rundown town would have such a nice looking church.
Abandoned gas station in Dunlap
I finally turned onto Road 240 and headed toward Americus. I was close to a bonk. I was craving food and was feeling a bit tired and had that irritated feeling that happens when I need food and am about ready to pass out. I had ridden this far before, but I have had some time off and my body felt it. My wife called and was a upset because she had to take Mikey to the store with her since I wasn’t home yet. She had no sympathy that I was so close to death. I made it to Americus and dug into my trunk bag for money. I was so hungry and was craving salt. I ended up consuming about 700 calories of Cool Ranch Doritos, Snickers and Red Bull. I just let the cravings tell me what my body needed. After that dose of highly nutritious food, I rode strong all the way home feeling great.
The winter sun was setting early and I pedaled hard all the way home. I stopped only to shoot a few pictures of this most depressing scene of dead sunflowers in the winter sun.
Nothing like a long bike ride to make you feel great. Even while at work, I feel great just knowing I rode about 60 miles on my bike while everyone else sat on their couches watching football. I feel like a regular guy with a superhero alter ego. I do have the tight fitting outfit. Click HERE for the route.
Feed Your Monkey!