Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday Ride #2: Downtown to Grove Park and beyond

Kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs help city park staff with planting native plants at the new trailhead linking Grove Park to the K-96 bike path at Hillside. Image found here.

The route: East on Murdock to the Canal Route (which I posted on here), north to 17th, east to Grove, north to Grove Park (28th Street), east through the park to Hillside, then about a mile along the western end of the K-96 bike path. The route is mostly level except for a gradual rise on Grove from north of 21st Street to the park. Route map here.

First of all, a confession. I've reached that point in this cycling thing where, this morning, I actually felt an emotional need to go for a ride. Yesterday I had planned to go to the WSU library, but when I learned that, for now, they don't open until 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays, and we also are under a heat advisory until Monday . . . well, suddenly the books already piled up here seemed more necessary for me to look at. Still, even though I was doing the sensible thing, I still wanted to ride. And this morning, as I walked Scruffy, the want became a need. Hence, in part, today's ride, which I finished up in about an hour.

Yes: My name is John B., and I'm a bike-aholic.

The other reason I went to Grove Park is the picture you see here. I wanted to see this little project; also, in anticipation of cooler weather, I'm looking forward to riding the length of the K-96 route, and I wanted to try out this morning's route to see if it would be a practical way to get to the trailhead.

I suppose most any major city feels bike-friendly at 7:00 in the morning, but this morning, the still-cool weather and the near-absence of traffic combined to make this one of my most enjoyable rides yet. When I got home, I was my usual sweaty mess, but darned if I didn't feel really relaxed, as opposed to tired.

I had some advance concerns about the stretch on 17th and then Grove; the neighborhoods immediately to the east of I-135 can be rather dicey in places. And, sure, this part of town isn't what one would describe as manicured. But few of the houses are truly dilapidated, and the folks who were out and about greeted me and I them. A motorist stopped at a stop sign where her street intersected with Grove saw me coming and, even though she had plenty of time to proceed, she actually waited for me to pass before she went on. Of course, is there any mellower morning than a Sunday morning?

Grove Park was a real treat on the whole, especially if you're interested in recreational cycling. The western end of the park, where I entered it, has a rather hard-bitten look to it (the play area there is all sand and gravel, and there's no shade), but the road along its southern border is well-maintained. The trailhead area really is quite nice: it's part garden, part evocation of Wichita's trail days, and part art project, with a fiberglass Conestoga wagon and buffalo, and some large plinth-like rocks on which are carved words and images intended to interpret the virtues the pioneers would have required for the journey west--or, for that matter, any cyclists who'd be coming through there in a few hours in the 100-degree heat expected today. After crossing at Hillside and riding for about a mile on the K-96 route (in that stretch, it skirts a large field that, if one didn't pay attention to the houses on its southern flank, would give you the feeling about being somewhere well away from the city rather than smack dab in the middle of suburbia. Back at Grove Park, I rode on one of the dedicated bike paths, which follows a creek that demarcates the park's northern boundary. The creek is hard to see from the bike path: trees intervene between the path and the creek, which is for the good, seeing as the creek is at the bottom of a very steep 20-foot-deep ravine. But the path for a time meanders well away from the parking lots and athletic fields, and once again the feeling one gets is Being Out in Nature.

The trip home was all downhill--literally, yes, though not enough to insist on it, but figuratively as well. As I said above, when I got home, I felt relaxed rather than tired.

I'd gotten my fix. I'll be okay today.


Cordelia said...

I've just had a chance to look at your route map. Do you actually have to bike on the Interstate (I 135) ? Or is there a trail that parallels it ? Yikes.

John B. said...

There's a bike-path that runs underneath the southbound side (the interstate is elevated along that stretch).

I'm foolhardy about many things I should not be; riding on a busy interstate is not among them.