CYCLING starts showing up in our family history in the early 80s, with one of many misadventures...

My dad was enroute to Alaska by bicycle from Kansas when illness struck. He was bedridden in a remote campground for long enough that the local ranger became concerned and I suspect encouraged him to give up his journey because as soon as he was well he hitchhiked home to Newton KS. and proposed to a young lady who is now my mother.  

After my older sisters were born, cycling became his profession, taking him out of loosely organized rides with buddies into wrenching for shops, then managing them, and with the opening of Great Plains Bicycles, finally owning one. This era from the mid 80's to 1998 when the shop closed was a transformative time for our family and Mountain Biking in the Great Plains. While my dad and I worked in shops, it was a means to an end: Adventure. During this era, Adventure personified itself as ride through the Flint Hills. It was usually about a 80 mile ride on the "roads" through the more rugged parts of Kansas. While the map always gave you a definitive mileage and route, it varied for many riders depending on when and where they got lost. I could go on for pages about the misadventures of these riders over the 15 or so years my parents promoted this ride, but I won't. I will say, though, that they had named it the Matfeild Green 100K but after a few years changed to something more ominous, the Death Ride, due to its growing reputation.


THE Death Ride was more than a one weekend affair for our family. There was route planning and and water sources to find so we spent many weekends bouncing around in the back of a VW bus looking for cool places to send riders. This left me with a lasting desire for exploration. At a young age I perceived being in Kansas as a barrier to true exploration, and everything I was reading about was in the West or Polar exploration. So I set myself to Mt. Bike racing and graduating high school so I could move on to other things.

Other things turned out to be going to Prescott College where I helped start a community bicycle shop, HUB (Helping Understand Bicycle), dedicated to teaching people how to repair and maintain their own bikes so they will never be without reliable transportation. After graduating with a degree in Adventure Education I went on to work for Outward Bound, teaching life skills through the Outdoors. Over the years I have pursued climbing, highlining, and many different water sports but cycling has always been a constant.

click on the photos below to see some other adventures.   

Life is nothing more that the pursuit of stories worth telling to children
— John L. Hobbs, adventure cyclist