Cyclist Story Starters
HIT THE TRAILS
For the active traveler, Kansas offers hikers and mountain bikers a wide variety of terrain featuring beautiful landscapes. Prairie trails include 24 miles of trails at Kanopolis State Park featuring a fantastic view of a sandstone canyon and 19 miles of trails that parallel the Santa Fe Trail in the Cimarron National Grassland. In contrast to the prairie trails are the wooded Mined Land Wildlife Area trails. Reclaimed from strip pit mining, the area features numerous pockets of small lakes and ponds. The Prairie Spirit Rail Trail, a 33-mile hiking/biking trail, follows an abandoned railroad route. Many of the trails in Kansas are multi-purpose trails that also allow mountain biking and horseback riding.
THE DIRTY KANZA
Cycling enthusiasts, mark your calendars for the Dirty Kanza, the world's premier gravel grinder. This late-May ultra-endurance race over gravel is a hotly anticipated annual event in downtown Emporia. The race starts and ends in front of the historic Granada Theatre, with riders taking off at 6 a.m. and the fastest ones returning 12 hours later.
East central Kansas' vast expanses, combined with a movie about a girl named Dorothy (maybe you've heard of her) have led some to believe they know what Kansas looks like, and it's flat. Don't fall for it. The Dirty Kanza includes about 10,000 feet of climbing. The course is a relentless and undulating 200 miles over blacktop and dirt roads, fist-size and crushed gravel, and sharp, tiny rocks.
The tough and beautiful terrain has helped the Dirty Kanza attract a cult following among both professional and amateur riders from across the U.S. and around the world. That's why the 1,500 combined slots in the Dirty Kanza 200 and Dirty Kanza Half Pint (the 100-miler) are usually snapped up within hours of registration opening.