October 21, 2017

Rush the Rails.

The first weekend in October, Matt and I headed down to Kansas for Rush the Rails, an event held to officially open the Flint Hills Nature Trail. The trail stretches 117 across east-central Kansas from Osawatomie in the east to Harington in the west. The ride went from Osawatomie to Council Grove, which is approximately 96 miles.

As its name suggests, the trail crosses the beautiful Flint Hills. According to the Flint Hills Nature Trail website, the Flint Hills represent one of the last remaining tallgrass prairie ecosystems in the world. It is home to abundant prairie plant and wildlife species, spectacular views, national historic sites, and a diverse set of recreational areas. The eastern portions of the route travels alongside the Marais Des Cygnes River, between rushing waters and towering bluffs, through rolling farmland and riparian woodlands.
The Flint Hills Nature Trail is the seventh-longest rail-trail in America, and the longest trail in Kansas. It follows the general route of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail and forms a component of the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail.

The Flint Hills Nature Trail is built on an old railroad corridor. The route was originally developed in the late 1880s, as the Council Grove, Osage City & Ottawa Railway. It later became the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
MoPac discontinued railway service on the line in the 1980s, and subsequently abandoned. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy acquired and railbanked the corridor in 1995 and later transferred ownership to the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy.

The KRTC has been developing the trail in sections, where volunteers have been available, and where grant funding and donations have permitted the old corridor to be refurbished. Proceeds from Rush the Rails helped to fund sections of the project.

The day started with rain, but by the end, it was sunny and in the high 70s.

We thought the trail was going to be mostly crushed limestone; however, the trail consisted of terrain that included rocks, mud, sand and everything in between... 

Every 15-20 miles there was a town that hosted a supported check point. Food consisted of bananas, pickles, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, salty chips and GU...

After the Admire checkpoint, which was about 75 miles into the ride, I decided to quit. Matt's dad met us at the checkpoint, and I convinced myself I could ride no longer. I had endured the hardest ride I have ever tried, and I was done.

Matt continued on the trail and finished all 96 miles of the ride. Seeing him cross the finish line, I somewhat regretted not completing the last 25 miles of the ride, especially after he said it was the easiest trail of the ride. Oh well.

Matt finished in about 12 hours and 30 minutes Soon after, fireworks started, but we didn't stay for them because we headed to Matt's sister's house for a BBQ dinner and to see Matt's new twin nephews.

Conner and Chase were born just a couple weeks earlier...

It is always fun to go to Kansas to see Matt's family, and it is even more fun to be able to tie in an event like Rush the Rails to keep us busy.