I tried a Kansas Territory Beer sampler 12-pack recently and liked all of the beers, which is pretty good since there is usually at least one bad one in a typical sampler. I decided to map out a cool bike trip to visit the brewery, some 180 miles away. I helped the missus pack lightly (can’t take that, dear—leave room for a couple of six-packs for the trip home), and we set out on the T-Bird after lunch Saturday afternoon. It was pretty hot, about 10 degrees hotter than I would like, but at highway speeds our ventilated jackets worked pretty well to keep a breeze going. We stopped frequently in shady spots along the way and drank lots of cold water that I brought in an insulated bottle. Before long we were in Tonganoxie at the traffic light that marks the east end of Kansas Highway 16. We have ridden a short distance on K-16 numerous times on the way to a favorite winery, and it is a lovely, hilly, curvy little 2-lane. We soon passed Helen’s Hilltop biker bar, which had several Harleys parked outside (I always shake my head when I see a bunch of bikers parked at a bar early in the afternoon when they should be out enjoying the road). We passed a number of farms, and I noticed how green everything looked with all the recent rain. Our first stop was in McClouth, where we removed our gear and enjoyed a cold drink of water. I bought a lottery ticket at a gas station—it seems like the big winners are always bought in little towns, so what the heck? We motored back out onto K-16 and turned north through Oskaloosa. K-16 is an old-fashioned highway, the kind that is not necessarily designed to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. After riding north for 10 miles we turned west and the road resumed its curvy, hilly nature. We snaked our way through a low-lying area of farm fields which were flooded. If we had attempted the trip a few weeks earlier the section of road might have been under water. We stopped in a little town when I noticed a nice, dark shadow cast by a church. Parking in the shadow, we enjoyed a big drink of cold water. Then we put our gear back on and headed back onto the highway. A few more jogs north, west, south, west and then as we were slowly climbing we saw a sign welcoming us to the Flint Hills. Suddenly the trees were fewer and farther between, and tall grass dominated the landscape. Cattle grazing near the road watched us pass. I tooted the horn at them but they were unfazed. The hills rose and fell, with quick elevation changes of as much as 300 feet. Then as we crested a particularly large hill we saw the Bridge before us. I suddenly had that feeling you get when you are about to take the first big drop on a roller coaster. The Randolph Bridge is 1 mile long, spanning a section at the north end of Tuttle Creek reservoir. The bridge goes over the remains of the town of Randolph, which was flooded by the Army Corp of Engineers to make way for the new lake back in the 60’s. From the top of the hill, the bridge far below us looked like a narrow grey strip between two shiny blue oceans that seemed to be threatening to wash it away. We knew the water level would be high, but it almost seemed to be lapping at the pavement. As we approached we could see that the bridge was actually safely above the level of the water, but still pretty close. We crossed slowly, enjoying watery views on either side. Once across Randolph bridge we rode for a few short miles to the end of Kansas Highway 16. We had completed the 100 or so miles that make up the highway in its entirety. Turning north now we continued our trip on US Highway 77 through more Flint Hills country to the little town of Waterville. There we picked up K-9 west to K-15 north and on to our destination, Washington Kansas. We found the Kansas Territory Brewery on a wide, red brick street downtown. The street was deserted except for a couple of parked cars. I backed the ‘Bird into a parking space in the shade and we got off the bike and removed our gear. We had arrived in town at precisely 5:00 PM, the opening time of the brewery’s tasting pub. I walked across the street to the pub and looked inside. Chairs stacked on the tables and not a soul in sight. A sign confirmed that opening time was 5 o’clock. I returned to our shady bench and we drank our cold water. Soon a guy came walking up the street towards us and asked if we were here for the brewery. He explained that he was running a little late, and then he went inside and began getting the place ready for business. After a few minutes we went inside and found a table with a couple of soft chairs for our bike-weary butts. Soon we were sharing a flight of six small glasses sampling the wares. A lager, a lighter lager (similar to Mexican beer), a wheat, a stout, a pale and an IPA rounded out the flight of beers. All were good, even the light lager and the IPA (not an IPA fan). We bought a six pack each of the wheat and the pale and headed to the next town, Marysville, where we had reserved a motel room. We had dinner at the Wagon Wheel restaurant, where the food was small town diner good. There is not a lot to do in Marysville, and we didn’t feel like doing much anyway, so we retired to the motel. After a good night’s sleep and a decent motel breakfast, we hit the road just after 8:00 AM. The morning was perfect motorcycle weather—mid 70’s and sunny, no noticeable wind. US 36 east was a bit flat and bland after the riding of the previous day, so we cut south on K-99 and got back into the Flint Hills. We crossed K-16 and spotted the church where we had taken a shady drink break the day before. We turned east on US-24 at Wamego and poured on the speed. Doing 70 mph, we were over-taken by two women on bikes—maybe they had further to go than we! One last water-break at a little town whose name I forgot, where we parked in the shade outside the ABATE headquarters building. I placed my helmet on a big rock and sprayed the face shield with glass cleaner, dissolving the morning’s deposit of six-legged carcasses. I looked down at the rock and saw a plaque designating the spot as a memorial to an ABATE member who died in the cause of freedom. A bit ironic, I guess, that I was cleaning my helmet on the monument of a guy who fought against helmet laws. Back on the bike for one quick super-slab section and we were home. I put a couple of beers in the fridge. Maybe I will have one tonight after work.