Interview with Roger of Tailwind Cyclists in Pittsburg

The rolling hills of southeastern Kansas around Pittsburg are perfect for mountain bike trails. I checked in by email with Roger Lomshek, owner of Tailwind Cyclists, which has you covered for all your cycling & outdoor needs, for his recommendations and thoughts on the Pittsburg area trails.

Kansas Trail Guide: What are the best trails in the Pittsburg area for mountain bikers and why?

Roger: We have three trails that offer a mix of flavors for riders.

The 23rd Street Bike Park is in the middle of town 6 blocks east of Broadway on 23rd ST! The bike park has a mix of roller coaster twisty singletrack with lots of short steep 10 foot tall hills. It also has a dirt jumping track with plans to add a trials riding area and pump track. While some areas are beyond the beginner rider there is almost always an easy detour and you’re never more than a half mile from the road.

One of the features at the 23rd Street Bike Park in Pittsburg

One of the features at the 23rd Street Bike Park in Pittsburg

Wilderness Park is at the far north edge of Pittsburg 1/2 mile west of Hwy 69 on McKay ST. The front half has gravel bike & walking paths that are great for beginner riders and families while the back half is a tangle of singletrack trails in heavily wooded hills.

Farlington Lake (Crawford State Park) is 10 miles north of Girard, KS on Hwy 7 (25 miles northwest from Pittsburg). A paved 6 mile road circles the lake while a nearly 8 mile singletrack trail rolls through the woodland around the lake. The singletrack trail has some very difficult sections and overall I would list it as an intermediate trail that is not for beginners.

Kansas Trail Guide: How many volunteer hours does it take to maintain the trails and how many trails does your shop take care of?

Roger: Tailwind Cyclists and our crew of volunteer trail workers maintains all 3 trail networks in our area totaling about 15 miles of trails. We usually devote at least a weekend every other month to trail maintenance and sometimes smaller half day sessions as needed.

Kansas Trail Guide: Are there areas for beginners and experts?

Roger: All three trails offer challenges for expert riders while the 23rd Street Bike Park and Wilderness Park have some beginner friendly portions.

Kansas Trail Guide: Are there any organized trail rides?

Roger: Tailwind Cyclists hosts a Thursday night mountain bike ride that leaves the shop at 6:30 PM during daylight savings time. We also do occasional road trips to further away trails on weekends. Call the shop at 620-231-2212 for details.

Kansas Trail Guide: What gear can people purchase at your shop?

Roger: We sell a wide variety of cycling accessories plus the bikes themselves and can get camping and outdoor gear as well.

Kansas Trail Guide: What do you think makes the Pittsburg area special for mountain bikers?

Roger: The people who ride! We have a great group of riders that make every trail ride fun.

Dining out at Crooner’s in Fort Scott

Much of southeastern Kansas is made up of gently rolling plains and forests, which makes it a great place for exploring by trail, and around Fort Scott and Pittsburg, there are multiple mountain biking trails to choose from. After checking out the trails that wind through Gunn Park (interview with the trail designer to come soon!), I was hungry. And since I was staying in Fort Scott on a Friday, I was in luck – I could eat at Crooner’s Lounge.

Duck with raspberry sauce and a twice baked potato

Duck with raspberry sauce and a twice baked potato at Crooner’s Lounge

Open Wednesday to Friday from 5 to 9pm in downtown Fort Scott, Crooner’s Lounge serves up gourmet food in a stylish dining room with brick walls adorned with images of singers and dark tablecloths and comfy chairs. The menu can and will change daily. The chef decides what’s inspired him that day, and that’s what he cooks.

I’m so glad he was inspired by pork belly – I had it for my appetizer, and it was a mix of crisp and tender and I-want-to-lick-my-plate-clean delicious. That could have been enough, but I also had the duck topped with raspberry sauce (I’ve never before seen or tried that combination, and I can now definitively recommend it!) with a twice-baked potato and mixed vegetables. From start to finish, it was delightfully yummy.

Reservations aren’t required, but they’re recommended, particularly on Friday nights. Since it’s only open 3 nights a week, you want to make sure you can get a table. The restaurant is a part of the Liberty Theatre building, with the entrance through the theatre doors.

If you go:

Entrees range from about $12 to $30, and there’s happy hour with $5 drinks from 5 to 6pm.

113 and 117 South Main Street, Fort Scott, KS 66701

620-215-1788

*Meal was compliments of Crooner’s Lounge. All opinions are that of the author.*

Overnight in Lyons Twin Mansions in Fort Scott

Lyons Twin Mansions

Lyons Twin Mansions in Fort Scott

After a long day of hiking at Gunn Park and Crawford State Fishing Lake in Southeast Kansas, I arrived at Lyons Twin Mansions in Fort Scott sweaty and stinky. I had no idea what to expect, having contacted the Chamber of Commerce and letting them arrange my accommodations for me, and I couldn’t have been more surprised and more pleased with where I’d be staying for two nights as I researched and hiked trails in the southeast: Lyons Twin Mansions in Fort Scott.

DSC05551

The check in room for Lyons Twin Mansions.

Near the center of town are two twin Victorian mansions one now primarily guest rooms and the other one housing Nate’s Place, the B&B’s restaurant that’s open for anyone and everyone, not just guests. I figured that I was staying somewhere unique as I pulled up and parked the car, but it wasn’t until I stepped inside and was greeted by owner Ms. Pat that I realized just how special this place was.

Elaborate decorations fill the mansion, and everywhere you look, there’s something that catches your eye. From the peacock atop a chest in the dining room to the historical pictures tucked into a windowsill on the way up the servant’s quarters stairs, it’s a lavish and unique place. There are guest rooms in the mansions themselves and a few in the surrounding buildings, as well as a dining room and lounge areas. Each one has its own character and flair. So even if you stay there once, if you go back and you get a different room, it’ll be a whole different experience with rooms ideal for romance and luxury as well as family getaways.

I was staying at the top of the main building servant’s stairs in “The Adventure” room. With wooden floors that creaked upon occasion and old, built in wooden desks, the room also came with modern features that I love whenever I can get them – a king size bed, flat screen TV, and mini fridge. Bonus – the fridge came stocked with a handful of sodas and if I managed to drink them all or needed more Diet Coke (which I happened to need), all I had to do was head outside my room to the living space that not only had a lounge area with several board games, but a microwave and popcorn and extra soda and bottled water.

Shangri-La room at Lyons Twin Mansions

Shangri-La room at Lyons Twin Mansions

My room felt more rustic luxury (as rustic as a place with a comfy bed, coffee maker, DVD player, and couch can be) but there were more high end style luxury rooms, and you can even get an entire mansion to yourself with the von Blucher mansion next door starting from $500 per night.

On the second floor of the main building, I was able to check out a room with a large, walk in steam shower, and upstairs, across the hall from my room in the former servant’s quarters, I snuck a picture through the open door of the Shangri-La room that comes complete with a large whirlpool tub.

The B&B is all about detail. Forgot something, like a phone charger or shaving cream? They’ll be able to take care of you. Don’t like the sound of trains in the night? (In the heyday of the railroad era, 7 lines ran through Fort Scott, now it’s just 2.) There are complimentary earplugs next to your bed for anyone who doesn’t want to be serenaded to sleep by the sound of a train whistle.

Both mornings of my stay, I hit up Nate’s Place for breakfast. The selection was varied, though fairly classic, with options from Belgian waffles topped with whipped cream, strawberries, and blueberries to a create your own omelet to Eggs Benedict. Something new, at least for me, was the sweet hash option – fried sweet potatoes and apples.

I wasn’t able to take advantage of the spa services the B&B can arrange (facial, hot stone and aromatherapy massage, manicure/pedicure), though I wish I would have had the time (and the money). I did get a chance to wander the grounds a bit. With a sprawling lawn in the front and a well-kept fountain and gardens in the backyard complete with hammock, it was a calm, pleasant space to relax. Just the thing after a day of hiking.

The sitting room of the main building

The sitting room of the main building

And, the B&B is on the warmshowers.org site, which is a free hospitality exchange for touring cyclists to find places to stay on the trips. Check through the warmshowers site, and if you can, try and stay here.

And even if you’re not crossing the country on your bike or hiking the nearby trails, it’s a great spot to stay under 90 minutes from Kansas City and about 45 minutes from Joplin, MO and worth the trip for a quirky, memorable stay in a historic town.

If you go:
Rooms from $119
620-223-3644
742 and 750 South National, Fort Scott, KS 66701

 

Garden at Lyons Twin Mansions

Garden at Lyons Twin Mansions – The pond I could see from my window in The Adventure room