SMACKDAB In The Middle
The SMACKDAB Summer Solstice Run started as an idea, according to Peter Zilliox the founder of the run. Zilliox said, “It combined several different ideas I’d had. For years I’d thought about organizing some sort of all-day ride on the summer solstice.” He continued, “Separately, I had wanted to make the ride to the monument in Lebanon, Kansas, which is about three hundred miles from my home outside Kansas City.” When I learned about the monument in Rugby, saw how similar the two monuments were visually, how it is recognized as the “Geographic Center of North America”, and discovered that US 281 was a nearly direct route between the two monuments, it just all came together.”
The run was named the “SMACKDAB Summer Solstice Run” because the run started from the monument in Lebanon, Kan., that marks the “Smackdab” center of the 48 contiguous United States to the monument in Rugby that is the “Smackdab” center of North America. The time of the run was planned to be between dawn and dusk on the summer solstice.
The run took about a year to plan according to founder Peter Zilliox, who further shared, “I first proposed the idea in an online rider’s forum on July 15, 2014. I work as a graphic artist, so I designed the finisher’s patch last winter.” He continued, “I connected with a small embroidery shop in Canada through another web forum. I ordered a dozen patches, thinking that that would be more than enough. As it turns out, I need to order three more!”
There were 15 riders that participated in the ride representing the states of Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin and Colorado. The riders were: Jim Ivery of Pueblo, Colo.; Pat Patterson of Castle Rock, Colo.; Thane Lewis of Broken Bow, Neb.; Galen Swanson of Cozad, Neb.; George Evans of North Platte, Neb.; Terry Richardson of Pratt, Kan.; Steve & Sue Birdsall of Lansing, Kan.; James Buttron of Lancaster, Kan.; James Buttron Jr. of Olathe, Kan.; Mark Adams of Wichita, Kan.; John Huston of Wichita, Kan.; Peter Zilliox of Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Sarah Zilliox of Lee’s Summit, Mo.; and Larry Huston of Knoxville, Tenn.
At the end of the run, several of the riders commented how unexpectedly pretty the first hundred miles of South Dakota were. The area around Fort Randall Dam was specifically impressive. Zilliox commented, “Even the more flat and predictable areas were amazing to ride. The whole process gave me a greater impression of just how big our nation is.” According to Zilliox, the consensus of all the riders was that all the people they met along the way were another highlight. To the person, they shared that everyone they met during their journey was so pleasant and positive.
The riders rode individually or in groups of two or three. The ride took anywhere from 12 to 15 hours. Several riders were more serious about making good time; others according to Zilliox, “took a more relaxed pace and stopped more often.”
Some of the other stops they made during the trip, other than for fuel for their bikes or to eat was at the Fort Randall Dam near Wagner, South Dakota, the giant Chieftain figure in Carrington, North Dakota, and of course they stopped to take a picture by the sign welcoming them to each new state!
When asked if this will be an annual event Zilliox said, “I don’t know. I hope it will be. There’s no way I could personally make the trip every year, but I would love to work with the residents and/or the chambers of Lebanon and Rugby to promote it as an annual event, and perhaps have it take on a life of its own.”
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