Out There With 12 Sports: Opportunities aplenty for cyclists in Kansas

Out There With 12 Sports: Mountain biking easily accessible across Kansas
Published: Jul. 30, 2023 at 10:21 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Over the winter, a new option for thrill seekers in south central Kansas came to life.

The mountain biking trail at El Dorado Lake State Park was chartered by Tyler Branine, owner of the bike shop, Bicycle Pedaler, in conjunction with the Kansas Trail Coalition and the Kansas Singletrack Society, helping bring miles of new trail to the area.

Out There With 12 Sports: Mountain biking POV at El Dorado State Park

“I don’t think people realize how many mountain bikers we have in the area and how much the sports is growing here,” Branine said. “Just in the last few years we’ve had about 7 and a half miles of new trails built out at Santa Fe Lake, and then this winter, Bicycle Pedaler chartered a trail build out here at El Dorado State Park.”

On any given day, dozens of cycling enthusiasts can be found out and enjoying the discipline. Branine’s groups across the area take in all different types of cycling - road biking, gravel biking and mountain biking are popular in the area.

“Wichita is uniquely located near the Flint Hills. Gravel cycling is something that is kind of a global phenomenon right now, it’s growing rapidly, Basically people take large volume tires and road bikes and go hit those remote roads. Then, of course, you’ve got the mountain biking. Around here there’s a lot of cross country riding.”

Park manager Jacob Riley has seen nothing but positives come from the addition to the area.

“It means the world to us because I mean cycling is one of those unique sports and activities that no matter your age, skill level, background, whatever it is, it’s inclusive. And these guys are a great testament to that. You see all people from all walks of life out here enjoying this sport.”

The growth of the sport has led the formation of leagues for middle school and high school-aged kids, and events, such as Little Bellas in Augusta, are held to promote cycling to girls and kids.

The essentials for anyone to get started are just a capable bike and safety equipment - a helmet is a must, as well as pads. More experienced riders tend to spend more money on bikes, suspension, tires, gloves and other essentials.

With plans for expansion at El Dorado State Park, their goal is to be a starting ground for anybody.

“Our idea of this trail is to go to a light-intermediate trail that helps prepare out ridership for that epic trip to Colorado, Arkansas, Howler Bike Park in Branson. These things aren’t far from us, and we need to be able to ride them and enjoy them, and maybe create them here.”