Kansas City to Weston Bend State Park
The adventure: Leave from Family Bicycles in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday. Ride northwest, crossing the Kansas River, and then head north to Leavenworth, Kansas. Visit an educational retreat and organic farm that also has camping, then head east, riding across the Missouri River and camping at Weston Bend State Park. Then ride back to Kansas City on Sunday.
May 3rd turned out to be a nearly perfect day, sunny with a light wind and in the 70s. I will tour in almost any weather, but I have to say it is more fun on perfect days.
Ivan and I were the players in this Bike Overnight tale. We started from Family Bicycles shortly after 11 a.m., stopped at a farmers' market, and then rode northwesterly toward our first river crossing, the Kansas River at Bonner Springs. We stopped along the way to take in historic markers; I like knowing the history of the places I visit, letting my imagination run wild with thoughts of the past.
We crossed the Kansas River at the K7 highway and took the K32 exit, then headed east to Edwardsville, where we made a left toward Leavenworth. We stopped at mile 25 along the side of the road for our first rest and lunch. Motorists and dog walkers waved to us while we chatted about life and the good riding times to come. This was the first time Ivan and I toured together and we got along great!
After a couple of ticks found their way onto my leg, we decided to move on (trying to resist the urge to check our bodies for ticks every time we felt something). We stopped at a fire station in Piper for some fresh water and to use the bathroom. I always enjoy chatting with the firefighters and let them know I appreciate their service and kindness.
The route was fantastic! Some of the farms with their rolling hills and terraced fields looked like they were right out of Ireland. Gorgeous country.
We meandered our way into Leavenworth, a town that was instrumental in the expansion of the West. Did you know Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok both lived there at points in their lives?
Being explorers ourselves, we took a detour to visit a retreat and educational center known as 80 Acres, which also has an organic farm called Gardens. 80 Acres is a beautiful, multi-faceted site nestled into a wooded hillside, complete with two ponds, campsites, meadows, organic farm, cabin rental, outside stage, and nice folks funning it. I plan to camp there in the future. For $10 it is a great deal and an excellent location!
Ryan, a talented organic farmer, gave Ivan and me a tour of this year’s crop at the Gardens at 80 Acres. Ivan and Ryan actually knew each other from high school.
Next, we made our way into downtown Leavenworth. After crossing the Missouri River we headed to Beverly Missouri, then to Weston Bend State Park. After 61 miles on this self-contained tour, and having tackled many rolling hills, we were glad to be at our new home for the night. But on our arrival we learned that the campground was full; no worries: here, as in all Missouri state parks, cyclists are always welcome and the host will always find you a spot to camp. This is a good thing when bicycle touring, as you are not always sure of the exact day you'll arrive.
Art, the campground host at Weston Bend, set us up right behind the shower building. This turned out to be a nice site, complete with electric plug, picnic tables, WiFi, event tent, and fire ring. The cost of a site was $13 for both of us. Art was very kind, and he went around to let the other campers know we were camped behind the building so they would not disturb us. He even brought us free firewood! Wow, that is hospitality.
After supper, we were having some tea and coffee when the park ranger and a Weston City police officer stopped by to check on us. We had a great time chatting and it was good to know they were in the area, as campgrounds can someimtes be noisy.
The stars were out, and sleep came easy.
We awoke early in the morning and decided to explore the park by foot. We walked to an overlook that provided wonderful views of the woods and river below. We then took one of the many hiking trails back to camp. This park is a bird watcher’s paradise; as we hiked, we were treated to many birdsongs. Wildflowers were blooming as well.
We made our way back to our digs, had breakfast, and broke down camp. Weston Bend is a nice state park, and our experience there was excellent.
We exited the park via the Weston Bluffs Trail, a crushed gravel bicycle trail going from Beverly to the town of Weston. The trail has gentle hills and many point-of-interest signs describing the history and fauna of the area. We then went to Highway 45 and followed it north along the river to NW River Road, which took us through some fun small river towns. Eventually, we landed in Parkville, where we stopped for a coffee and snack.
We then headed on Route 9 into downtown Kansas City. Due to road construction, we had to take an elevated detour through Briarcliff Water Works Park, which rewarded us with a spectacular view of downtown. After crossing the Heart of America Bridge over the Missouri River, we stopped at the The Farmhouse in the City Market District for a delicious late brunch. Ivan had the Earl of Biscuits!
Fully fueled, we pushed on toward Waldo (home). We took our time as the temperature rose into the mid-80s and our legs were fatigued from the previous day's hills. But bicycle touring is so much fun, even when tired; you can just turn it down a notch and ride for much longer. Fun fun fun!!!!!
On this ride I learned a great deal about the area I live in, my traveling companion, people I met on the road, the environment/wildlife, and, most importantly, myself. Bicycle touring is an awesome way to live life.
Favorite Local Bike Shop: Family Bicycles in Kansas City, Missouri.