Ever since I was a little kid riding my orange Schwinn Sting Ray with the classic banana seat, I’ve always loved getting out on a bike (I still call a bicycle a bike, even if that’s confusing to you Harley riders). There’s nothing quite like a little speed, feeling the wind on your face, all generated by your own effort.
While I’ve been a road bike rider almost my entire life, Lailan and I have found more casual cycling is another fun and healthy thing to do together. It’s easier on the knees than running and rest stops seem to include some sort of liquid indulgence, because “we earned it!” Right?
Almost any bike will do until you determine if more frequent riding is in your future. There’s no immediate need to spend a bunch of money on a new bike. It seems like most people have a couple of bikes collecting dust hanging upside down in the garage. Get them down. Take them to your local bike shop for a quick tune-up (cheap and worth getting your bike checked out) and then you’ll be ready to go. And, don’t even question this – wear a helmet no matter where you ride! Just do it. You don’t want me yelling at you if I see you on the bike path.
Speaking of bike paths, there are plenty of good riding options right here in Kansas City. The on-road bike lane network is still lacking, and with so many distracted drivers, you should probably consider off-road options if you are just starting out.
A few of our favorite rides ranging from local, to regional, to a cool ride we did while in Prague are listed below. Check out the links and feel free to message us back with your favorite rides – from anywhere in the world.
Now is the time. It’s a perfect time of year to get out and enjoy your self-powered journey!
Tomahawk/Indian Creek Trail – this is an awesome trail network that loops through Overland Park, Leawood and Olathe, Kansas. In fact, it connects to a couple of other trails so the route options are endless. Just find a convenient access point and give it a try. This path is shared with walkers, runners, kids, squirrels, geese and so on, so please take it easy, ride under control and give walkers a heads up with a polite “on your left” as you pass. There are plenty of places to pull off for a rest (and perhaps a snack/beverage).
Shawnee Mission Park – the park has some mountain bike trails as well as a route on the road that circles around the park. Lailan will not be doing the mountain bike trail after witnessing a lady crash in Colorado a few years ago. The woman was absolutely fine, but Lailan wasn’t too keen on that visual. Anyway, hop on the road and just ride around the park. You will see plenty of other riders of all skill levels. There’s a pretty steep hill on the south side of the lake dam, but it’s good for the quads and the cardiovascular system. The reward is a nice downhill coast later in the ride.
Bike MS: Kansas City Ride 2017 – My young niece has been diagnosed with MS. A good friend of ours, Cindy Banks, has been bravely living with MS for over twenty years now. The least I can do is ride my little bike a 150 miles over two days to help raise funds for MS research. I will be riding in the Oklahoma MS150 ride this year (my niece lives in Edmond, OK), but the Kansas City ride is awesome. Consider riding, but if you don’t, please think about sponsoring someone who is riding. The ride is a great training incentive and is a really fun time with family/friends and thousands of other cyclists.
Prairie Spirit Trail – Lailan and I rode part of this trail a while back. The trailhead is in downtown Ottawa, KS and the route actually goes all the way (52 miles) to just south of Iola, KS. We didn’t go that far. Not even close. We rode to a little town south of Ottawa, had a Bud Light at local tavern, and returned to Ottawa. The trail is an old railroad bed and is super flat. It may not be the most scenic ride in the world, but it’s a good little getaway adventure!
KATY Trail – the most well-known bike trail in our region is the KATY Trail. Almost everyone has at least heard of the trail. Like the Prairie Star Trail, the KATY utilizes an old railroad bed. The crushed limestone trail is pretty flat and basically runs all the way from just outside of Kansas City to the west side of St. Louis. Most people just ride little sections at a time, while others ride the entire route in one trip. Lailan, our son Kai, and I recently rode the popular segment between Rocheport and Columbia, Missouri. The trail hugs the shore of the Missouri River on one side and towering river bluffs on the other. It’s one of those “I don’t feel like I’m in the Midwest” sections of the trail.
Praha Bike – Prague, Czech Republic – OK, so I know this is sort of random, but cycling day trips (or longer) while on vacation are a great way to get more in touch with the local scenery and culture. You obviously cover more ground than if you are walking and it’s certainly slower than seeing the countryside by train. Lailan and I joined a day-long tour via Praha Bikes. We had a guide who shared tons of local knowledge and led us along a river, through a few villages, and ending at the famous Karlstejn Castle. Czech beer was an integral part of this ride!
Enjoy the ride! And send us your favorites routes, trails, adventures!