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Sprad Tracks
Wind Sprints for your Mind
Wind sprints for your mind by T Spradley

Riders descend the hills of Osborne Co

Saturday September 14th I had the opportunity to attend one of John McClures history rides.  The Twin Creek historical ride was a fun and interesting experience.  Twenty-one riders of varying skill levels united under overcast skies for a training ride of the mind and body.

John McClure joins forces with Von Rothenberger and other Volunteers for historical tour rides in the Osborne County area.  The terrain and stories are very reminiscent of the Flinthills in eastern Kansas.  Von Rothenberger is an entertaining and informed teller of tales.  The history rides are loops of 18 to 20 miles.  Every few miles there is a stop for a historical perspective of the area. 

Twin Creeks was once a small trading store community along the East/West routes of the wagon train days.  A historical marker alongside the road is all that marks the one time frontier town.  With Amanda Smith and Scott Williams of Sunflower Journeys leading the way with gate up and camera rolling the group took off through the hills under threatening skies.

At one stop Von told the tale of Sunny Slope School.  Seems several of the school districts members wanted it relocated to a more convenient location to the south.  Some members in the north disagreed.  While one group secured an injunction to stop the move three local brothers were recruited to move the schoolhouse for a sum of about $45.  With news of the impending injunction coming from the county seat the brothers were asked to move the schoolhouse under the cloak of darkness.  What started out as a simple move off the foundations to nullify the injunction turned into the midnight ride of the brothers Clow and the Sunny Slope school building.  The injunction holders woke to find the school building had been relocated to its new site a few miles to the south.  It remained there for the next 55 years before burning to the ground on December 19th 1938. 

We stopped at one of the highest points in Osborne Co. and learned of the deposits of opal that can be found in the area.  At another spot we heard tales of slightly more modern history.  During WWII bombers practiced maneuvers, not always successfully, in the skies above where we stood.  Osbornes airport runway was the result of a bomber belly landing outside of the city.  Once repaired the plane needed a runway to take off again.  At a site a few miles from where we stood the chilling tale of a more fatal crash was rendered.  Flying from the west coast to Forbes AFB a night time thunderstorm and mid-air explosion brought down a Flying Fortress with full crew on board.  Pieces of the wreckage can still be found scattered throughout the area.  Next year on the 60th anniversary there are plans to erect a marker to honor those who perished there.    

Our mixed group of riders pedaled to several locations for different insights into the areas unique features.  Wet top soil on a few of the roads had mud clinging to the tires and frames,  then flying off as big clumps in every direction as the speeds increased on long downhills.  Kyler Jones, a young rider from Glen Elder, put out a good effort on a 14 speed Huffy with little low end gearing.  Andrew and Amberliegh Plowman also rode well despite the muddy conditions.  At one point I pulled several pounds of terra firma off Amberlieghs bike before she could continue on her way.  Landon Heward proved to be a strong young rider.  He handled the distance and his Trek in good fashion.  All the younger and less seasoned riders did an admirable job. 

Josh Davison was Team LATRs other member in attendance for the ride.  We rode together a bit, bunny hopping mud clods and practicing our speed descents on the hills.  The unsuspecting leisure riders gave us plenty of opportunities for passing practice.  Josh is in the middle of his cross-country season.  I hear he has had a couple good runs for Osbornes team.

The last stop on the history ride was a bit macabre, and kind of put things in perspective.  Our group of 21 rode 20 miles or so in overcast, cool, misting weather.  A formidable if not insurmountable challenge for many folks in our gas powered, remote controlled modern day society.  All along the way we were reminded of the effort it took to live life in our forefathers days.  The smiles in all the old vintage photos were a bit tighter, the eyes a bit more hardened. Our final homestead story accented that point.  John demonstrated that dousing can find more than just water.  It can also reveal bits of our past.  While John walked a section with rods moving together and then apart again, Von told the story of the settlers.  An old, worn, wooden cross and a cavity in the ground from an old gravestone marked the final resting spot of three young frontier girls.  All three lost their lives to Rattlesnake bites.  Yes, even now venomous reptiles take a few lives, but it is a fairly rare thing.  Losing three of your children that way is almost unthinkable. 

Life is faster paced nowadays, and we have our own versions of poisonous predators that prey on our children, but for most of us day-to-day existence is not the challenge it was a 100 years ago.  Supper was not 4 minutes on high, turn and 3 more minutes.  Heating your home in the winter was more than turning up the thermostat, and there werent too many evenings of video games and cable TV.  (That alone would kill me.)  I will try to remember this the next time I am in Wal-Mart shuffling my feet and muttering because some antique person in front of me is methodically writing their check.  When there are snakes in the garden and a hard snow can be life threatening, I guess its best to move cautiously and dot all your I's.  I know some country folks may read this and scoff, considering life in the country can still be a tough road.  However, before you scoff too loudly, next August as you make that 30 or 40 minute drive into town in your air-conditioned vehicle ponder that same trip in a buckboard.

Okay I will get down off my soap box and end this story on a positive note.  At the completion of the ride most of us convoyed over to the Covert Creek Lodge for lunch.  Covert Creek Lodge is a unique secluded hunters bed and breakfast, owned by Raymond and Audrey Schneider.  The surrounding terrain looks very conducive to mountain biking.  John is presently working with the Schneiders and other area landowners to open some of these areas up for mountain bikers.  The Covert Creek Lodge has room accommodations, a rustic sitting area, and a kick butt kitchen.  The BBQ brisket and ice cream was a great value at $8.  The lodge would make an excellent weekend group hide-a-way while exploring the area on two wheels.  Contact John McClure at the number listed on the other Twin Creeks story for more information on two-wheeling in Western Kansas.

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