I left early in the morning and rode straight through Topeka. I had hoped to see a coffee shop, diner, or someplace fun on my way through town but saw nothing. Lots of closed taquerias and tire dealers but nothing of substance. I crossed over the Kansas River and headed west towards Manhattan and Tallgrass Brewing.
By the time I was three miles passed Topeka, I realized how hungry I was, and there was nothing coming up until Manhattan. I passed by a huge grain holding facility which had several rail lines running to it. There was one point where three rail lines ran parallel across the road. I angled my tires to be perpendicular to the tracks until I realized I was in the other lane. As I tried to correct my error, my front tire/wheel slipped into one of the tracks and I went flying over the handle bars. I landed on my left shoulder and elbow, not too hard, but hard enough to hurt. It was my first wreck, and hopefully only. It sucked. The worst part was the older woman who watched it happen and kept driving. She was right behind me, saw me fly through the air, skid across the road, and jump up pissed. My gear was everywhere; she drove by as if nothing had happened. Bitch.
Of course I had a flat. And the rim had numerous gashes in it. I took several deep breaths, realized how fortunate I was, and proceeded to change the tube and deburr the rim. The most upsetting part of the wreck was that I know how to cross railroad tracks. I should have eaten breakfast and drank coffee. Lesson learned.
Moving on, I pedaled hard to get to Manhattan. I had met Jake, the sales manager for Tallgrass, at Boulevardia. He actually believed I would visit and was happy to give me his information for when I arrived. He was finishing a sales meeting when I arrived, and the other employees were somewhat confused as to why I was there. Tallgrass is in the process of moving there facility to a new location, and have thus closed their tasting room. There are no tours and no tastings: I had once again been fortunate to meet Jake earlier.
I got the grand tour and tasting. Tallgrass cans their beers in 16oz tall boys, so it was cool to see that process. The brewery was a buzz with activity, and most everyone gave me little notice. Tallgrass does a lot of cask conditioned beers, especially for the local markets. It was great to see the conditioning area, and to hear how they condition in the traditional process, aka they don’t force carbonate the cask, but rather allow the yeast to eat and process additional sugars added for that purpose.
Before the tour, I was able to try most of their beers. There was a tasting room exclusive (ironic because the tasting room isn’t open to the public) that was made with plums. The closest style would be a weird gose, with no salt, light tartness (not lacto derived) and a pleasant plum flavor. The plum flavor was between green plum (where I think the tart was from) and over ripe, juicy plums. It was fantastic.
While touring, Jake gave me a four pack of 8 Bit, their hoppy pale ale. It was fresh off the line, and I was supper excited to drink it. I was also told to go to Cox’s BBQ, located just down the road. Of course, I did, and the food was good. It certainly was not Oklahoma Joe’s, but was still yummy.
It was so hot out, I decided to stay at the BBQ place for an hour, hoping against hope it would cool down (plus the World Cup was on the TV). Eventually it was time to leave, so I headed towards Milford State Park, another large park with a huge reservoir. I managed to sneak past all watching eyes, and find a great camping spot.
Before I swam, I used one of my bungees to anchor the beers to some rocks. Bad move. Boaters were cruising by and creating wakes; I hadn’t considered this and instantly had one beer get a puncture. Beer sprayed, I drank it. Stupid me left them in the water and swam. I came back to grab them and another one had a puncture. Rather than drink it (as I still had one opened from before), I shotgunned it, using a rock I randomly found. It wasn’t my finest shotgun but it was still fun.
The last two days had found my hands numb and hurting, so I contacted my boys at my local bike shop (On Your Left) for advice. After some back in forth, I moved the stem up and tweaked the position of my saddle. It ended up helping a lot and made for much more enjoyable riding.
The evening passed pleasantly: I watched fish jump, fishermen tried their luck (with no catches), and the sun set. It had been a great day.