Saturday's annual ride for the children's center in Hays took participants to the Catholic cathedrals of Ellis County. And it was windy.

It felt like 100 miles. The annual Hays Area Children’s Centers’ Rope ‘Em Ride was no cake walk. Weather data for Hays for Saturday indicated an average northerly wind speed of 29 mph with gusts to 39 mph.

As with birds, what goes south must return north. That is, every time I flew south at 25 to 35 mph, I knew I would be soon turning around and heading back north at 6-10 mph. The northern stretches of pedaling were arduous, to say the least.

I had decided to ride my first century, a ride of 100 miles, for 2013, or so I thought. However, I didn’t read the route map closely enough, and realized after I had finished the ride that I was short by less than 10 miles. Anyway, 91 miles was a good haul in Saturday’s wind.

I have ridden the children’s center ride numerous times in the past. I call it the Tour de Cathedrals. The longer route took cyclists to most of the Catholic churches in Ellis County, including Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Antonino; St. Anthony’s in Schoenchen; St. Francis of Assisi in Munjor; Holy Cross Shrine in Pfeifer; St. Fidelis, aka The Cathedral of the Plains, in Victoria; and, St. Catherine’s in Catharine (yes, the church’s name is spelled differently than the town’s). While Holy Cross Shrine in Pfeifer dissolved as a Catholic parish in 1993, this church and the others regularly open their doors to visitors to admire their impressive architecture and beautiful stained glass windows. The stained glass windows at Pfeifer were particularly impressive, as their imagery shared stories from the gospels and Christ’s life.

What really impressed me overall though was the sacrifice involved n time, labor, and resource to complete the sacred edifices. The early Volga Deutsch pioneers of Ellis County were obviously a hardy stock, guided by their strong faith and devotion.

I look forward to next year’s ride.