What an interesting spring and early summer we all have experienced in this neck of the woods.
It hasn’t been too much of anything yet — hot, wet, dry and mostly typical southern Kansas.
I’ve heard from a few folks that dry conditions will have an ill effect on the area hay crop, but I haven’t been as in tune with my agricultural background in recent years to have much of an opinion myself.
But from past experience, when the rain does quit around here, it is done for awhile and things become very dry.
For readers who have followed my outdoor columns in other publications, I’m usually foaming at the mouth by now about the blue catfish run, which I totally missed this year.
Oh, well. Life and work didn’t cooperate this season to allow me any time on the water to date.
So this is a little different than my usual fare, but nonetheless it is an outdoor topic, probably with a greater appeal than squirrel hunting, gigging bullfrogs or even (can I make myself say this?) bow hunting our sacred whitetail deer.
Alright, I’ll get to the point.
I’ve rediscovered cycling — mountain bikes with foot pedals, not my Kawasaki — and really have been enjoying myself.
I was a long-distance runner until I was badly injured in 2012 and couldn’t walk properly for more than a year.
Running was a huge part of my daily life that bordered on a certified running addiction.
I loved being out on the trail or county road at dawn, making miles and letting all of those feel-good endorphins flood my brain.
I was at peace and in very good shape — both things I dearly miss.
Well, I tried other outlets for my outdoor exercise and nothing really fit the bill. Cycling came close, but I became bored with it.
So my bike has sat in the shed off and on for the past few years until, on a lark, I started riding it around Newkirk.
It was faster than walking and kind of fun…
I also was sure to make jokes about my bike riding to other upstanding adults I encountered, lest they think I lost my driver’s license and or good sense.
However, I found myself sneaking out after dark and riding all over the place here, and really enjoying it.
Soon my short trips down the block were two-hour adventures. Its almost the same buzz as a runner’s high, but different in its own way.
It also is an awesome way to observe wildlife because of the stealth and speed of a mountain bike.
I still miss running and will not miss bow season this fall, but I do enjoy this rediscovered outdoor pursuit.
I know Ark City has a large cycling culture and some great spots to ride.
The trails around Veterans Memorial Lake, the Arkansas River and Knebler Pond, and the nationally renowned Camp Horizon trails, offer much to the cyclist.
This community is very fortunate to add those trails to the wealth of outdoor activities in Cowley County.
I’ll even add that I was somewhat fortunate to be too busy to fish or chase turkeys, but the drive to get out in the wilds inspired me to pick up an old hobby that fit the bill.
I know the extra exercise will pay off when I’m dragging out that monster buck this fall, or so I hope.
Enjoy life in the wilds…
Dirt Roads and River Beds is a nature column written by Arkansas City native Cody Griesel.