Sunday, April 11, 2010

First Edward's Life Trek Ride - April 11, 2010

I decided today, that instead of speeding on my bike on one of my many routes that I have put together for the Quivira Park Bike Group, that I would ride part of a couple of routes out to Kill Creek Park past Lake Olathe and on the Twisted Sisters Hills on 135th Street.  It was a beautiful Sunday morning with temperatures at the start around 58 and at the end in the high 60's.

A number of the routes that I have go by Lake Olathe but I had never stopped and looked at the beauty of this man-made lake located in Olathe, Kansas between Santa Fe and Dennis Roads at Lakeshore Drive.  Lake Olathe includes a 208 community park that was dedicated in 1959 and has two fishing docks, one large shelter, three small picnic shelters, and a playground.  The picture was taken from Dennis Road looking North.

My next stop was at Kill Creek Park which is located on Homestead Road between De Soto and Olathe, Kansas, in western Johnson County.  The park is one of three Johnson County regional parks and it was opened in 2001.

Within the 880 acres are four picnic shelters, a swimming beach, a marina, and 17 miles of trails including hiking, mountain bike and equestrian trails and an asphalt trail for walking, hiking and bicycling.

The pictures are of the entrance to the park, above, and the view from the picnic shelter, below, that the Quivira Park Bike Group uses when we do the ride that we call the Kill Creek Park Route.

After a relaxing break at the park I headed east working my way back to 135th Street and the famed Twisted Sisters Hills.  I am not sure who coined these names but I first heard the names from Steve Mitchell who founded the Quivira Park Bike Group four years ago.  Steve has been concentrating on marathon running for the last few years so I took over the leadership of the ride.  He is going to come back this year and actually ran in the St. Louis Marathon today!

This is a picture of Twisted Sister II looking west on 135th Street between North Moonlight Road and South Cedar Niles Road.  You cannot see the bottom of the hill but it is steepest on the west side.

Between the two hills is the Prairie Center which is part of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks System.  The main building is located at 26235 West 135th Street at the corner of South Cedar Niles Road.

I have passed the center many times but did not realize that it included a 300 acre tallgrass preserve with trails winding through both prairie and woodlands.  On the property there are eight ponds, which serve as wetlands for wildlife, and a small lake for fishing and water studies.  A bedrock creek provides exploration of aquatic life as well as a look back in time through the fossil remains embedded in the limestone creek bed.

Many of the native prairies, which once blanketed North America, have disappeared.  At the Prairie Center you will see, in mid-summer, many tall native grasses.  There are no public buildings, and public access is restricted to trails and a few gathering areas.  The Prairie Center is open from dawn to dusk seven days a week for trail walking or for fishing in the lake and I now have walking on these trails this summer on my to do list!

I always make fun of Randy Rasa, my partner with the Kansas Cyclist Podcast, on him not taking pictures of himself on his DirtBum Blog.  So this is my attempt to use the timer on my camera.  The picture below is taken on the East side of the Prairie Center looking south on South Cedar Niles Road.

After a brief stop at the Prairie Center I tackled Twisted Sister I which is between South Cedar Niles Road and South Wardcliff Drive.  It is also steeper on the west side and has actually two hills on the east side.

Some riders don't like the Twisted Sisters as you have to not mind going close to 40 mph downhill and then either standing up in your lowest gear or switching to a third front sprocket if you have one.  I actually like hills as it is good training for my Nordic Skiing and it's great for endurance.  The Twisted Sisters are steep but they are not long.  When the temperatures are hot they, like all hills, are much tougher.

This is a picture of Twisted Sister I looking East.  Again you can not see the bottom of the hill.  I love taking riders, who are not from the area on the hills, as most people think that Kansas is all flat.  Those of us from Eastern Kansas know otherwise!

On the ride today I came up with the blog name of Life Trek and also to keep my Garmin on Auto Pause so I can stop and smell the roses!  A map of the ride can be found on my Garmin Connect Account .  Thanks for the inspiration Randy!

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