The 41st Cottonwood 200

Cottonwood 200 Riders conquering one of the Flint Hills on Day 1

What’s Happening 

Erin and I just finished the Cottonwood 200. It was tough and rewarding. Fighting through the aches and pains, we were able to observe the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas. We’ll be heading up to the Des Moines area on Friday to run in the 38th Dam to Dam: Iowa’s Distance Classic.  Since I’m going to stay a little longer and hang out with Dad, we’ll be driving separately.

On Friday of the following week, I’ll be getting on a charter bus that will take me to Tribune, KS.  That is where I will begin the Bike Across Kansas.

Number of the Day: 17

This is how old Stephanie Mui is as she graduates with a master’s degree in mathematics from George Mason University. She isn’t even done with high school yet!

Just Do Without

This has become a mantra of mine in the last several weeks. During the packing for Cottonwood 200, Erin would sometimes ask me why I wasn’t bringing something or another. “I’ll just do without,” was how I responded.  
Granted, there are several pleasantries that I indulge myself into bringing along. For simplicity’s sake, I also rough it a little and “do without” several things on these kind of trips. When you are well traveled, you can easily simplify packing by asking yourself a few questions that measure the reward of different items. 
  • How large is the benefit from bringing such an item or items?
  • How big a hassle is it to bring such an item or items?
When the first heavily outweighs the second (basic toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.) we obviously bring those items.  When space is limited, the second can heavily outweigh the first on several items (an extra pair of shoes, that other book you are also reading that is 5 inches thick, the extra shirt, etc.).  
As a seasoned traveler, I place a high level of enjoyment from traveling as light as a I can. More stuff means more hassle. If we can’t walk a mile carrying everything we’re traveling with comfortably, then it is time to go back to the original two questions. 

Cottonwood 200

There was thunder, lightning, and heavy rain when we woke on Day 1. I rode over and loaded the truck in the rain wondering if/when we would begin this ride. Since the ride started at the Washburn campus, we lounged around at our house and waited for the storm to pass before biking over.

The Topeka Police escorted the 160 riders out of Topeka stopping traffic at several of the intersections and leap frogging their way to the south side.

Erin fought through some horrible pains in her knee (the ibuprofen at the SAG 1 really helped), and made it through the entire first day. We biked through some rain and winds, and a few threatening clouds. 

Looking out at the Flint Hills at SAG 3

Between SAG 3 and SAG 4 on Day 1.

We set up camp under the shade of a Sycamore tree on the grounds of Council Grove High School. Our tent was a huge dome in a sea of tinier tents. They of course made fun of our vast accommodations. They sounded very envious, so we just ignored them.

Our new Base Camp 6 tent (which replaced our old Base Camp 4 tent)

 On Day 2, we biked about 20 miles south to Cottonwood Falls along one of the Flint Hills Scenic Byways. Here were some photos of the Flint Hills, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, and of Cottonwood Falls. 

With a magnifying glass, you may be able to pick out the bike riders disappearing in the horizon.

The Ranch House on the Spring Hill Farm and Stock Ranch

Lower Fox Creek School ran from 1884 to 1930

Hiking along Southwind Nature Trail at the Second Overlook

In Cottonwood Falls, KS

The Keller Feed & Wine Co. opened from 11-1 for Cottonwood 200 riders only. We flooded the place, ate lunch, drank some beers and bloody Mary’s and then rode the same route back to Council Grove. The route back was into the wind however, so it was much slower. The good news was that our campsite was already up in Council Grove.  

We packed up camp on Day 3 to head back to Topeka. After some breakfast with some new Wichita friends, Lauren and Neal, we started toward Topeka. It was again a long day with four SAG stops. Since Erin and I were simply biking home, we offered up our house for some showers and a quick rest before they had the long drive back home to Wichita.  Sadly, we didn’t get any good pictures all together. 

Left: Erin at SAG 4, Lauren in Pink Helmet. Right Bottom: Figures on hilltops are common in the Flint Hills. Right Top: A unsuccessful selfie which was supposed to capture Neal and Lauren riding behind. 

It was a great way to spend Memorial Day weekend. This will probably not be our last Cottonwood 200. I’m sure we will return again. 

2 thoughts on “The 41st Cottonwood 200

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