Cycling Kansas City

5:51 AM

Note the white sky - 7 am and already 82 degrees!
We visited Kansas City this past weekend to catch up with some family and attend a wedding celebration.  This was only the second time we brought the road bikes down with us to our base at the in-law’s house in Overland Park, Kansas.  We considered bringing the mountain bikes (I hear there are some great places to ride the dirt in the area), but wanted to keep the short weekend simple.

There are many reasons to love Kansas City – great food, excellent art scene, sometimes awesome weather (got to love a place where it can warm to 70-degrees in December), but cycling is not one of them.  I come from the Twin Cities, where Minneapolis is forever fighting it out with Portland over who is the best biking city in the US.  Kansas City streets are either on the grid (generally 4-lane, speed-fests with no shoulder for bikes) or between the grid (twisty streets with no logic where you are likely to wind up turning around on yourself without knowing it).  Consequently, it can be very frustrating to put together a decent ride that connects those rare straight streets with little traffic.

Sprint campus
Before hitting the road, we hit to see what the locals had posted.  Through the site we found a ride that, with a few minor tweaks, would take us on a two-and-a-half-hour loop of Overland Park, Leawood, through Swope Park in KCMO, and Mission Hills.

Riding south through Leawood takes you through the Sprint cooperate headquarters complex (very new, but seemingly designed to look like an old college campus) and several McMansion neighborhoods named with comical suburban pretension.  Harwicke, anyone?  Heading to Nottingham Downs Park?  Fine names, sure, but c’mon, we’re in Kansas.

It doesn’t take long, however, before you are across State Line Road and on the Blue River Road.  This densely foliated park road follows the river as it winds its way to Swope Park (unfortunately, a washout two years ago closed part of the road, so we had to piece together an impromptu detour).  Swope Park is a grand location, with pavilions, a golf course, lakes, picnic shelters, a zoo, and concert venue. 

Riding through Blue River Road - cool and quiet
(Aside: I also hear Blue River Road and Swope Park host some kick-ass singletrack, but that had to wait for another trip.)

The last part of the ride took us on Meyer Boulevard, across Ward Parkway and down Tomahawk Road – basically through Richie-Richville.  I can make fun of ostentation all day, but I do have to admit they make a wonderful caramel roll and serve a great cup of coffee!
This fits the nutrition training plan, right?

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