Adventure in Lee’s Summit
Working in a bike shop is the only job Jason Starforth can recall. His grandfather owned a bicycle shop off Blue Ridge Boulevard in the mid-1970s. At the age of 8, Starforth began cleaning the counters and learning how to fix bikes in his father’s store on Hickman Mills. Starforth purchased the cycling shop after his father passed away, and in its 36th year of operation, he relocated the Bicycle Shack to its present location in New Longview.
“This is where we came to do all our riding anyway,” Starforth explains, referring to the extensive opportunities for cycling around Longview Lake. “All of our bike rides can take off from here. There’s the Tour de Lakes, the Summer Breeze, the Trip the Lights Fantastic Christmas rid. There’s a lot of stuff right here, and it’s a neat little community.”
Over the years, as an avid recreational cyclist, Starforth has experienced the benefits of the open road firsthand.
“It’s a fun cardio workout that makes you feel better,” he says. “Being outdoors on a bike as opposed to on foot, you get a little bit more wind blowing on you, you can see further, you can go further and see more stuff.”
While the New Longview area may be the epicenter for cycling in Lee’s Summit, it certainly isn’t the only place to enjoy the outdoors on wheels. As Lee’s Summit grows, city planners are guided by a greenway development master plan which helps them pinpoint ideal multiuse trails as the city is further developed says Joe Snook, interim administrator of the Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation Department and an avid recreational cyclist.
Snook says he thinks Lee’s Summit is such a popular cycling area because it’s fairly easy to set out and reach the open road.
“When I go out and ride, I want to go out and not make a lot of stops,” Snook says. “Here you can get out of the traffic pretty quickly and into a more rural area with minimal distractions, interruptions and some good hill climbs.”
No matter if you’re a novice or experienced cyclist, into mountain biking, street riding or crushed gravel paths, into hills or not, Starforth and Snook share tips for their favorite rides in Lee’s Summit and in the KC metro area. So choose your own cycling adventure and go for a ride.
- Join in a group ride that departs from the Bicycle Shack on Wednesday night or Saturday morning. On Saturday, meet at 7:45 a.m. for a 10-mile loop around the lake at a 15 mph pace. An hour later, meet back at the shop and ride 15 miles to Raymore at a 17 mph pace. Stop at a gas station, grab a drink and head back to New Longview at an all-out pace. All-together, this 40-mile social ride is a fun cardio workout to get your weekend started.
- Swope Park and Minor Park feature extensive off-road trails perfect for mountain bikers. Start your ride at the Holmes and Blue Ridge extension and ride bikes all the way over to the other side of Interstate 435. When Swope and Minor trails are connected in the near future, this will be the longest series of inner-city mountain bike trails in the nation, Starforth says. Also check out Landhal Park in Jackson County, Wyandotte County Lake and Blue River Parkway Trails.
- Take the Rock Island Railroad Trail from Pleasant Hill to Windsor. Connect to the Katy Trail in Windsor. If you want a ride that lasts three to five days, use this as a starting point to ride the trail from Pleasant Hill all the way to St. Charles across the state.
- Make it a family affair. In May, the Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation Department received a $10,000 donation of bikes and bike trailers for families to enjoy together. You can now check out bikes inside the Legacy Park Community Center and ride the 5-mile paved trail that circles Legacy Park.