Location: Pittsburg

Pittsburg Bike Park Proposal Approved

The 23rd Street Trails in Pittsburg, Kansas have been a local tradition for years, although something of a well-kept secret. The trails, known locally as “The Dumps”, are located on the site of an abandoned coal mine, and grew organically over the years, all very unofficial and off-the-map.

But now, the trails appear to have the official sanction of the city, and there are hopes to build the site into an attraction that would draw riders not only from the Pittsburg area, but from around the region and even further:

What’s been done covertly for decades in an unused section of green space on 23rd Street now is legal and could prove to be an eventual tourism draw for Southeast Kansas.

On Tuesday night, the City Commission unanimously approved a request by Jeff Wilbert, director of parks and recreation, to allow an organized group of residents to upgrade existing mountain-bike trails on city property adjacent to the railroad tracks at the 23rd Street overpass.

Local residents have formed an organization called Kansas Overhill Racing to spearhead the effort. The group provided the commissioners — most of whom said they never knew the trails existed — detailed packets and aerial maps outlining their plans.

The groups will rely on volunteer labor, donated equipment, and support form local businesses to build and maintain the bike park. The group also hopes to procure private grants to help offset costs.

The work at the bike park is envisioned as two phases, the first being cleaning up the area — removing thorn bushes and fallen trees — restoring the existing trails, bringing them up to IMBA standards for sustainability, and providing signage.

Once the trails are rehabilitated, the group would like to begin a second phase of work to construct designated skill areas composed of obstacles for multiple ability levels. The group hopes to eventually hold organized races and clinics at the park, which could be a tourism draw for Southeast Kansas:

Group members said the closest similar venue for riding mountain bikes is Slaughter Pen Mountain Bike/BMX and Freeride Park in Bentonville, Ark., a destination to which Harrison and other local riders frequently travel. They said it could serve as a model for the 23rd Street park.

“We see this as a way to keep local riders here on the weekends, and probably bring in others from other areas who will be spending their dollars and time in our area,” Harrison said after the meeting.

Lomshek said the park would appeal to people of many ages and abilities. He said he is thrilled that the Pittsburg area will have a place for young people, in particular, to get physical.

“In Arkansas, it’s a huge draw, where tons of locals go every weekend to ride, with moms and dads walking on the trails and teens getting out and enjoying the outdoors,” he said. “This could make Pittsburg a destination for adventure. It’s a great place to go play.”

Now that the project has received approval from the Pittsburg City Commission, the group hopes to begin work before Spring. The first official work day is scheduled for Sunday, February 22nd.

Read more at the Joplin Globe, and at the group’s web site, 23rdStreetBikePark.com.

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web’s premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

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