Peddling Around Springfield

June, 2018 – Springfield, MO We spent all of June in Missouri. We hung out with our kids, played with our granddaughter, and caught up with our friends.

We also tried to get our bikes out as often as possible. Springfield is blessed with many great bike trails. It has miles of asphalt just for pedestrians and bicyclists.

It’s a little harder to find level pavement in this area of foothills. We certainly want to work up to some elevation gain but Jim’s trike doesn’t perform very well on hills. And I’m not even a huge fan of flying down hills. I usually ride the brake not wanting to take a chance on hitting something on the path and losing control.

Rails to trails are always a good bet for a fairly level ride since the trains the paths were designed for couldn’t handle steep grades any better that we can. Springfield has a great one of these, the Frisco Highline Trail.

It has about 8 miles of asphalt starting on the north side of Springfield and continuing south through Willard. It is a very nicely done trail with a bike rental stand at the Willard trailhead and rest stops like this one. The storage facility across the road has facilities for cyclists including a bike storage program.

This trail continues all the way to Bolivar, 30 miles away. The remainder of the trail is gravel. We rode a section of it and it was very hard packed. We’d like to do more of it as we have walked many miles of this trail in the past and it is very scenic.

One morning we checked out the Wilson’s Creek Greenway, one of the few trails we hadn’t walked before. The trail description I found said minimal inclines. Ha!

When we headed north from Tal’s Trailhead we had to climb a large hill through some woods almost immediately. At the top of the hill we came out of the woods and had to go through a gate. We were now in a cow pasture and there were gently rolling hills as far as we could see.

We made it about a mile farther before we came upon several short but steep hills and turned around. We pedaled back past the trailhead and continued another mile south hoping it would be easier in that direction. It was actually much hillier.

I ended up walking my bike a couple times and we finally called it quits with only 5 miles ridden but 370 feet in elevation gain

The trail was very pretty and if you are better prepared for the hills and ready for a challenge I absolutely recommend hiking or biking it if you are in the area.

One of our favorite trails is the Galloway Creek Greenway on the east side of town. We rode it on Father’s Day with our son Adam, an avid cyclist. This trail is very popular but it is also quite wide so sharing the path was never a problem. The trail has several metal sculptures along the way.

You ride past many businesses including several bars and restaurants.

And the funnest part is riding under some busy streets and one train trestle.

This particular day we rode from the trailhead at Pershing Middle School to the old iron bridge over James River for a round trip of around 10 miles.

The South Creek Greenway is another great trail in the heart of Springfield without too many hills. It includes a great bridge over the very busy Kansas Expressway.

It has 6 miles of total pavement so it is about the perfect length for us as we enjoy getting in about 10-12 miles if there is not too much up and down.

We took the bikes to the Lake Springfield Park one morning and discovered it has a really scenic trail along the lake.

It was better suited to walking however since it was only about a mile long. We rode some other roads in the park to eak out a 3 mile day.

I haven’t been carrying my cameral on the bike and instead enjoy taking photos with my phone, often while in motion. I have certainly missed my camera a few times like when this red winged black bird kept swooping by one morning.

For all its convenience though I think the phone does a decent job.

Residents and visitors of Springfield are lucky to have these and many other trails and parks to enjoy. Information and maps for all these trails can be found at the ozarkgreenways.org website.

Topsail Hill Preserve

Santa Rosa Beach, FL – May, 2018 When we passed through this part of Florida last October we were really looking forward to visiting Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. Unfortunately our reservation was summarily cancelled when Hurricane Nate made an unwelcome visit to the area the day before we were scheduled to arrive. Even though it was a little off of our planned route this trip, we decided to make the detour and spend a couple nights there.

We arrived an hour before the park’s 1pm checkout and were told they had not yet confirmed if our site was vacant. They directed us to park in their large day parking area and check back with them in an hour. We parked, had a quick lunch, then unloaded the bikes to have a look around.

The first thing that caught our eye were the numerous little ponds around the campground

and the many lily pads growing in them. Their blooms were quite lovely.

We made a quick tour of the park and confirmed our site was indeed vacant. Then back to the office to check in. Then back to the site to drop off the bikes and a quick walk to collect the camper.

Soon we were set up in our new home and, most importantly, plugged in to the power grid so our AC could work overtime to get our little tin box comfortable. The sites here aren’t overly large but they are big enough and thoughtfully laid out.

The rain that was in that afternoon’s forecast kept getting pushed back so we gratefully took advantage of the beautiful day. After a short rest we donned our bathing suits, threw a couple things in a bag, and headed for the beach. The beach is about a mile from the campground or from the day use parking lot. It is perfect for bicycling to or they have a tram that runs from 9 – 7 daily.

We arrived at the beach to find it fairly busy with families enjoying their Sunday afternoon.

The sand was at a premium but there was plenty of room in the water and all we cared about was getting our saltwater fix. We threw our bag down and plunged right in. The yellow flag was up so there were some pretty good sized waves we had to work our way through. But we finally got out to 4-5 feet of water and just bobbed around for a while.

The water was a deep shade of green and the perfect temperature. The only negative was little green globs of, I don’t know, seaweed? They were everywhere. That’s ok. We persevered long enough for our bodies to soak up their quotient of salt.

Some dark clouds were moving closer and we heard some thunder so we decided we better head for home. I was glad we weren’t stuck waiting on the tram. We jumped on our bikes and made it home just before the clouds let loose.

We were both looking forward to a good ride the next morning. A very popular trail starts across the highway from the park and travels 20 miles along Scenic Hwy 30-A. Unfortunately Jim’s trick knee had pulled one of its shenanigans the day before. He wisely decided he better let it rest.

I took a ride around the park. Primarily I wanted to take the paved trail to Campbell Lake. It was only about 3 miles roundtrip.

The lake is a rare freshwater coastal lake. It’s hard to see in this picture but the other side of the lake is actually a tall sand dune that protects it from the ocean.

The morning was pretty dreary and it was misting the whole ride. I kept hoping it would clear up and I’d get some better light for my photos. It didn’t.

Turns out it was pretty comfortable riding conditions so I kept going. I rode every stretch of pavement in the park, about 5 miles worth. I stopped at the beach and walked down the boardwalk.

The beach was now deserted.

Then I road most of the park again to complete an hour’s worth of morning exercise.

The rest of the day turned out cooler than expected, which was nice. We drove east a ways beside the bike path we had hoped to ride and found it was very congested in places and we probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it anyway (sour grapes anyone?). Jim wanted to visit a bike shop called Big Daddy’s. You can tell they are serious about bikes.

Then we explored the area to the west of the campground. There were tons of retail options in this area. There were high end shopping centers and a huge outlet mall.

Even though we didn’t need anything, roaming some of the strip malls was a good way to get in some walking and we always had a place to duck in out of the heat or the rain, depending on what Mother Nature chose to throw at us from one hour to the next. The easy walking was what Jim’s knee needed to keep it going without further straining it. Hopefully he’ll be back in the saddle by our next stop.