DAY 185 – 3/13/2013 KANSAS has AWESOME Mountain Biking!

How Interstate 70 sees Kansas

How Interstate 70 sees Kansas

Really!  Yes, really!  Driving along Interstate 70 toward the Baltimore Beltway, albeit ~1600 miles away, my job is to keep the rig on the road safely, and keep Marfa running happily.  Several over 10,000′ mountain passes behind, I assure Jane that the “World’s largest prairie dog and a 5 legged steer may be our only entertainment for quite a few miles.  In fact, here we are wondering what Appalachian adventure to look for and what the weather will give us on official arrival to the East.

We do also so look forward to several possible visits.  A  favorite who we met in Rosendale, Jason is training in Indianapolis.  We really hope to share at least a meal or a few hours with him.

We had wanted to steer North, see Yosemite, The Pacific Northwest, Glacier, the Dakotas, The Upper Peninsula and a host of other wonders around this great country.  We have, however, run out of paper towels.  Yes, my skimpy rationing has kept Jane laughing with little corners or half-towels all across America.  J-P endowed us with quite a few in College Station, TX, some 6 or 7 rolls!   But now with the Salida refills running low, we acknowledge we must bring our Voyage to some realistic close.  Actually it may be our bank accounts suggesting finding jobs again.  But it’s so much more fun to track paper towels and take their lead, money reasons would be SO tiresome…

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So driving along, Jane’s job is finding adventures, entertainment and cool diversions.  I can always count on her!  She used Singletracks.com to find the cool trails in Franklin, NH.  She and this little laptop have led not only to coolness, but also contributed to safety.  As I must concede to checking weather.com for travel routes and to avoid storms or improve our timing.  With an 8000 lb rig I can’t afford to chase powder days or other whims; if snow, we just dust off the solar panel and sit tight.  Maybe unhitching Marfa and skiing nearby.

But this day, charged with finding fun in Kansas, I had little hope.  I do admit to the stereotype and the I-70 perspective of flat, boring, wide and soul-less land.  Yes, I know, according to the sign “an average Kansas farmer feeds 155 Americans”.  But I don’t subscribe to such a large-scale mono-culture anymore anyway.  Buy local, grow local etc.

Jane was searching the “hometown of two fictitious characters” who will stay un-named.  Lawrence, KS is right on the path homeward, can’t be bad detour to get a little “Welcome to Lawrence” pic, right?  That resourceful and wonderful wife of mine found MORE!   She found a mountain biking trail at a state park and reservoir built by the Army Corp of Engineers!  Clinton Lake and Clinton State Park. They offer trail networks for hikers, Mt Bikers and a separate equestrian area.

Not just a trail, but a GREAT trail!  23 miles of dedicated single-track!  Flowing, technical, rocky and WONDERFUL SINGLE-TRACK!  Maps supplied in the kiosk showed us the basic parallel paired White and Blue Trails leading out to “West End” of the park, following the great rocky-ridge just between the campground and Bluebird Restoration Habitats and above the water level of the lake.  We followed the “more difficult” White Trail outward as it crawled up and down delightful dips and rolls of the terrain.  The mile markers ticked by slowly.  This was a trail that rivals any trail I’ve ridden in my many states of the union!  My 27 years of riding and even old racing days carried me from Vermont through the rocky Mid-Atlantic and South into Virginia.  This trip did the same, and more…extending my experience into New Hampshire, Maine, Big Bend, Moab and Colorado.

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The dancing up and down on this long ridge provided a rolling ride with just enough climb to get ya breathless without a complete downshift, then rewarded with similar bumpy, “bumbling” downhills.  Many of these “little climbs” felt truly rewarding as I “cleaned” a bunch of them.  The times I dabbed were neither embarrassing nor too frustrating to keep me from clipping right back in and trying again.

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We saw the requisite curious herd of deer.   At the furthest reaches I thought I’d spied a cactus.  Jane saw it too.  And later we read the name, “Cactus Ridge” on a detail map.  I also happened upon the most self protective tree ever, Honey Locust.  Thorns as big as my hand.  Don’t lean on that tree; don’t even brush against it riding by.

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Trying to get $10 worth of Slime from the tubes bought in Terlingua; "Pump and Pray" they said.

Trying to get the $10 worth of Slime from the tubes bought in Terlingua; “Pump and Pray” they said.

Watching Jane on the rocks was also a great joy.  She learned long ago that rocks have more traction than roots.  With aplomb and only a late bit of fatigue she mustered deep into our five hour ride.  Conveniently, the park layout allows a bailout at any time to go onto the plateau and refill waters or ride park roads back if it’s ever needed.  KANSAS has AWESOME Mountain Biking!

Here’s a link to the Lawrence Mountain Bike Club. They maintain these trails in concert with the Kansas Trails Council. Great job!!

– David

12 responses to “DAY 185 – 3/13/2013 KANSAS has AWESOME Mountain Biking!

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    I admire you guys so much – LIVING 🙂

  2. I’ve enjoyed “traveling” with you both….I don’t want it end! What will I read when you are no longer traveling and blogging?!

    • Hi Cindy! – Don’t worry, we have loads of stuff from our trip that we’ll keep writing about. LOL! Even after we’re back in Baltimore. Thanks for visiting!
      – Jane

  3. How are you smiling even while fixing a flat?! That always makes me a bit grumpy. Kansas always struck me as much more rumpled than its reputation would suggest. Sad to hear that the voyage may be ending, but isn’t it fitting that some mountain biking should close things up?

    Looking forward to having you both back on the east coast. Rachel now has a double-squish mountain bike. She is going to have a blast on that thing once the spring thaw is over, here in Pittsburgh. Trainwreck thinks she has a lot of potential. 😀 We’ll have to tee up for a ride some time soon.

    • Matt
      smiling was trying to get the Slime in my tube to work. I’ve never bothered to buy the stuff but in Terlingua near Big Bend they warned of cactus spines. Yes we will have to ride…Lykens and anywhere. Hope Spring comes soon its grey here now.
      -David

  4. Now there is something to do in Kansas. We will keep this in mind when we pass there.

    • Truly worth the detour. Worth the trip alone. It had us wondering if flights to Kansas and sweet bike rentals were cheap? Better trails than some found in the “touted” places…and there were others listed nearby! I guess its like the wonderful trails near us in Maryland that no one has ever heard of.
      -David

  5. The Kansas City area has a great network of trails. Check out earthriders.com for all the info.

    • Thanks Joe! We will look further into those too. As mentioned, if you ever get East, give us a holler…lots of rocky technical, but also smooth blasty, flowy too!
      -David

  6. When you get those plane tickets back to Lawrence, KS, make sure to check out the Lawrence River Trails, also! The eight-and-a-half mile loop is like riding (and being in control of) a roller coaster. Sweet! Also, if you want a bit more of a technical portion, try The Sugar Loop. Love your blog! See you on the trails!

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