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I’ve heard that it’s good to have goals. I have goals, though many of them are frankly ridiculous.

For example, coming up in about a month and a half, I’ve taken it upon myself to ride a couple hundred miles via dirt roads in the Flint Hills of Kansas. This is called the Dirty Kanza, an epic event that Joel helps put on and promote. I thought it sounded like a pretty cool thing to do, and hearing Joel talk about his adventures out in the wild hills inspired me. Also, the woman who was the first female finisher last year inspired me. I got to thinking, “humm…I wonder if I could do that?” So, now I’m going to find out.

I’m stoked, excited, and more than a little nervous. That’s a long ride out in the boondocks! But the course is well marked, I have a good headlight for the night sections, and I think if I have useful snacks packed and get in a few good, long, hard rides between now and then, I will be okay. One of the few things I am marginally good at is locking into a comfortable pace and pedaling for hours.

My other big goal related to the Dirty Kanza is seeing at least one if not several Prairie Chickens. The Flint Hills area is the largest natural habitat of Prairie Chickens and is the site of many of their “booming grounds.” I think that they may well be out and showing off for one another during the time of this ride, so I am hoping to witness a little tuft-tailed chickeny bird with orange throat sacs flapping and dancing around all tryin’ to get some action.

I’m not so sure why either goal is so set in my mind, but there they are. Completing the Dirty Kanza and seeing a Prairie Chicken. Those are my two big, immediate goals. I reckon the Dirty Kanza thing is partly because that kind of epic ride is a reality check and the progenitor of epiphanies. I feel like I want to prove to myself that I can undertake and complete a ride like that. I also welcome the insights that come of a long, two-wheeled meditation. I have no idea what might come to me while I’m riding, but it tends to do me some good to take long rides and be alone with or without my thoughts.

The Prairie Chicken thing is easier. They’re an endangered species which has a very specific and limited habitat. They’re truly rare birds, and endearingly oddball critters on top of all that. I see robins, jays, grackles, cardinals, chickadees, and other little brown birds daily. I see semi-domestic geese and ducks regularly. But wild fowl of the open prairies are not seen in the center of a busy city. I’m interested in seeing a few of them just doing their little wild fowl thing out on the prairie.

I would love to hear a few meadowlarks while I’m out and about, too. I used to be able to imitate the song of a Western Meadowlark (the Nebraska state bird). When I was a kid, out in western NE, Id’ whistle out their little riff and hear calls and responses all around the open countryside. I wonder if I could fool Eastern Meadowlarks, too. I’m not sure if they have a similar call.

4 Responses to “Flint Hills & Prairie Chickens”

  1. Kathy says:

    Egads… two weeks ago my inlaws went down to the South Texas reserve for the VERY SAME prairie chickens. Freaky!

  2. mixte says:

    I think the Western Meadowlark and Eastern Meadowlark have slightly different songs. You can listen to their songs on the website that you linked to. Thanks for that link by the way- now I can identify the call of the Red-bellied Woodpeckers in our yard and I figured out that a bird I heard last night is a Common Nighthawk. I hope you get to see the Prairie Chickens!

  3. Bill Smith says:

    I really enjoy my Google Alert for Blogs on “Kansas Flint Hills!”
    Yours came up!
    Our 22 county Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Inc. promotes visits to the Kansas Flint Hills – the website is: http://www.kansasflinthills.travel/
    Hard to believe it has been over a year now since the 22 page color photo spread in National Geographic’s April 2007 Issue on the Kansas Flint Hills, as a distinctive landscape. We are now working to get the Kansas Flint Hills designated as a National Heritage Area.

    We would appreciate a link from your site, to ours, if you are willing to do so. THANKS!
    Best wishes!

    Dr. Bill 😉

    Personal Blog: http://flinthillsofkansas.blogspot.com/

  4. […] local cyclists attempting the Dirty Kanza include Micah at Hiawatha Cyclist, Michelle at Meetzorp, and Lelan at The Life of LeLan, who also offers a great video preview of the […]

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