Both Joe and Don advised everyone that punctuality was the key word of the day. Get an early start to avoid the high winds of western Kansas, they suggested, and you would enjoy a pure and refreshing motorcycle ride.
I was with them 100 percent. Until I saw Model.
This was a town, once, and it was here that a rusted sign frame that once held the company standard of a long-gone filling station caught my eye as both brakes brought me to a halt. As Robert Frost noted, “Way leads on to way and I may never pass this way again” and so I felt compelled to stop.
This was a sad and interesting place. There wasn’t much to see, really, yet I was there for awhile taking pictures and taking notes and taking into account that there was no town here anymore – but there had been once. I tried to picture local farmers and ranchers and townspeople coming here for gas and groceries and soda pop or simply hoping to meet with friends and ease their loneliness. And then I looked at where the pumps used to be and I spied two weatherworn outhouses and I kicked at chips of stucco and concrete that had fallen around the building and I wondered about those people until it was time to ride again.
The road ahead held nothing back, she let me fly down her back and take in the scenery for which Colorado is famous. Well aware of my good fortune, I felt even more blessed this morning to begin the day like this. In La Junta I swept onto US 50 and felt even better. The temperature was right and the pace was right and when I reached Lamar I couldn’t recall a more perfect day. Even as I rode into Coolidge, Kansas, the winds never interrupted my bliss. The penance for my pictures and my curiosity? Well, it came when I rode into Garden City.
It was here that the winds began to pound on me like a heavyweight boxer; no – it was worse than that. They hit me with the force of Zeus. At thirty-plus mph, the winds knocked at my tires that slipped and slid and made me feel as if I were dancing on ice. For forty-plus miles I was leaning against this beast and riding at angles Pythagoras couldn’t calculate. Most of the time I was doing this at a clip that soccer moms reserve for school zones.
When I arrived in Dodge City, I carried on my face and clothes and bike a few acres of dust (which I plan to homestead) and an appreciation for the wisdom and experience of Don and Joe. Thankfully, I arrived in time to introduce Jim Johnson of the Dodge City Historical Society who presented Don with the third proclamation (Yuma and Socorro were the first) making May 7, 2014, ‘Cannon Ball Centennial Ride Day’ in Dodge City.
Overall, it was a good day.