Kansas Singletrack Society blazing off-road bike trails

04/19/2014 10:33 PM

04/19/2014 10:33 PM

Jerry Jones and a few buddies tested their bodies and mountain bikes Tuesday afternoon.

For about two hours, their legs churned pedals over a serpentine course that wound through woodlands on a trail that climbed over felled trees and boulders, and through hair-pin turns that careened off big rock piles. Several times they had to brace themselves as their bikes went over fall-away jumps, then tilt their bodies to maintain balance on angled sections of trail.

Rather than in the Ozarks or even eastern Kansas, the members of the Kansas Singletrack Society were riding within Wichita’s city limits, not far from one of the busiest intersections in town. The two-mile Air Capital Memorial Park trail is near the southeast corner of Kellogg and Maize Road.

“It’s getting quite a bit of use, and that’s great,” Jones, Kansas Singletrack Society president, said of the course they opened about a year ago. “We’d like to have more people out here, and more people join our club. That would mean more volunteers and more money to make more trails.”

Built on land owned by the city and dotted with assorted construction leftovers, the trail was about two years in the making.

“Every foot of what you see out there had to be worked by hand,” member Andy Cramb said. “It’s pretty easy to maintain. I come out and pick up deadfalls and trash with my kids. Oh, and some of the reflectors that have been broken off of bikes.”

The trail is also open to hikers, but closed to horses and motorized vehicles.

With about 60 members, the Wichita-based club can keep busy riding and maintaining the 10-acre Air Capital trail and three other mountain biking trails in the region. Jones said the club’s most popular is probably Miller’s Meadow, about five miles of trail winding through about 50 acres of land owned by a family near Pawnee and 143rd Street East. The trail is known to be easier and faster than others managed by the club.

Their Camp Horizon track is about nine miles that winds through a religious retreat about an hour southeast of Wichita. The track is home to an assortment of races, and features about 1,000 feet of climbing per lap, and a variety of challenging turns, drops and climbs.

The club’s Fall River trail is about eight miles at Fall River Reservoir, and winds through the scenic and unique Chautauqua Hills, which has long stretches of trail beneath an unbroken canopy of trees and giant boulders. “There are a lot of places there where you’d swear you’re in the Ozarks,” Jones said.

Helmets are required or strongly recommended on all the trails.

Jones and Cramb said the club regularly organizes things such night rides on local trails or day trips to places like the legendary trails at Wilson and Perry reservoirs. Last fall they took a club trip to Texas’ rugged Palo Duro Canyon.

And when they’re not riding or fixing trail, key club members are looking for places to build new mountain biking trails.

“We’ve already worked with a lot of jurisdictions, public and private and it’s gone pretty well,” Jones said. “We’re always looking for another place to ride.

“And if it has some wooded, rocky and some vertical terrain, that would just be awesome,” Cramb added.

For more information go to www.kssingletrack.com.

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