Location: Emporia

Emporia To Focus On Bicycle Tourism

The city of Emporia, Kansas, which bills itself as the “Front Porch to the Flint Hills”, is planning to focus on bicycling in the coming year:

Kansas’ wide open spaces have been a hot spot for cyclists through the years. So much so that the Emporia Convention and Visitors Bureau has decided to use it as a theme for its 2011 marketing campaign.

The CVB is putting its money into the cycling theme and movie advertising and steering away from popular women’s magazines for now.

Betty Senn, CVB director, said the reason for choosing cycling for the theme was because it has become a great family sport and it seems to be growing across the United States. She also said there always seems to be a commercial for cycling apparel, gear and energy drinks on television. Since the success of the Dirty Kanza 200 and the Flint Hills Death Ride, the Emporia area has gotten a reputation for a great place for cycling.

“It has been discovered within the last five years by the rest of America,” Senn said. “There’s a lot of people who want to drive through the Flint Hills because they haven’t seen such wide open space. We’re kind of capitalizing on that.” [ read more ]

The Flint Hills, that vast expanse of native tallgrass prairie in east-central Kansas, is indeed a growing mecca for cyclists wanting to experience the rugged beauty of nature, far from crowded roadways, where it’s just you and your bike for dozens or hundreds of miles. Pretty much as far as you’re willing to pedal, there’s open country in the Flint Hills to lose yourself in.

As new Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has said in the past (Brownback Backs Biking Trails) and repeated during his campaign (Brownback touts Flint Hills for tourism):

“I think we’ve got a real chance to expand the growth of tourism and recreational access in the Flint Hills,” Brownback said, mentioning biking trails, horseback riding and opportunities for people to get out and enjoy nature. “We’ve seen a step-up increase, and I think if we can become more accessible consistently, I think you’ll see more people come.”

“I think Emporia’s positioning itself as the Front Porch to the Flint Hills is great,” Brownback said. “I think these are excellent activities. We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to create jobs and opportunities or we’re going to lose people, and Emporia’s working hard at doing that.”

I think both Gov. Brownback and the Emporia Convention & Visitors Bureau have it right: The Flint Hills are a great place to ride a bicycle.

(I’d go further, and say that the whole state of Kansas is a great place to ride a bike, but the Flint Hills is a great place to start!)

Promoting cyclo-tourism should be a priority for communities across the state, and it’s good to see some small steps in the right direction.

If you’d like to experience the Flint Hills from the saddle of a bike, here are some links to check out:

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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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