Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunday Ride #5: K-96 Bike Path

Route map:MapMyRide (I'm sorry to say that Veloroute was not cooperating for me as of this evening; I'll try again tomorrow.)

As announced here back on Thursday, today was the big inaugural gathering of Cycling in Wichita readers and interested others (that's way too wordy for a T-shirt; I'll try to come up with something snappier for next time). Two other folks joined me: Brian and Peter, both of whom not only visit this blog but have actually left comments in the past. Just after 9:30, we left Grove Park, crossed Hillside, and rode the length of the K-96 Bike Path. Aside from our getting caught in a brief rain shower on the way back and my nearly causing Brian to crash when I slowed down suddenly, a good time was had by all. This was by far my longest ride to date, and I'm happy to note that when I got home I felt like I could keep on going.

Both Brian and Peter pulled up on fixed-gear bikes, so today was my introduction to this sort of bike. That's not saying much, of course, given how new I am to cycling. Moreover, both had experience with this bike path--Peter, in fact, uses a stretch of it on his daily commute to Beechcraft. Brian is a native of Wichita and has at one time or another ridden all the city's bike paths.

This bike path was a treat to ride. Between Hillside and Woodlawn, the path passes through grasslands and dense stands of trees in creek bottoms, which gives this path a very different feel from any of the other paths in town. Chisholm Park, in fact, is a Wichita Wild space--a habitat preserve; if it weren't for the paved path and the traffic noise from the highway, you'd likely not know you were in the midst of suburbia. From Woodlawn on, the path either passes through residential areas or hugs K-96. The path is in good condition for its entire length--in fact, it is in better overall shape than the Arkansas River path. Aside from some mild rises on its eastern side, the path is fairly flat.

As I saw at Sedgwick County Park last weekend, lots of riders were out this morning, especially in Chisholm Park and along the path's eastern side. These folks tended to ride in packs, though: more families and groups of cyclists. For that reason, it didn't feel crowded on the path, even though it was busy.

As Brian and Peter and I talked about bike paths in town today, we each lamented the lack of a centrally-located east-west route for cyclists; so, when the path crossed the abandoned railroad right-of-way that runs just south of 17th Street, I know I couldn't help but feel a bit of frustration that, as things stand now, the plans to convert it into a path are on hold.

So, yeah: we had a good time--so much so that we'll try this again toward the end of September.

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