A friend and I took a little a little day trip to ride the gravel roads around the very small town of Rantoul, Kansas. Rantoul is located midway between Paola and Ottawa in eastern Kansas. The country is mostly farmland and pastureland, with the terrain dominated by the Marais des Cygnes river, which flows near Rantoul, and the tributaries, floodplains, and bluffs surrounding the river.
The area around Rantoul offers a nice variety of terrain, which I’d noticed on previous road rides through the town, but I’d never explored the back roads in the area.
We parked the truck a the small city park, and as we unloaded the bikes, I noticed my front time was flat. After a quick tube swap, we were off.
We worked out way south for a mile, then east on the paved Jackson Road to Stanton Road, where we headed north onto gravel. First stop was the old town of Stanton, of which nothing seemed to be left save the cemetery, which was surprisingly large and well-kept. After wandering among the tombstones for a bit, I ate a few ripe Mulberries off the large tree at the entrance to the cemetery, then we were on the bike again, still headed north.
We worked our way past some hayfields, as well as corn and soybeans. There was one nice downhill, followed by a steep climb, on which I meant to shift from the middle chainring to the small ring, but instead shifted to the big ring, which brought me to a sudden stop. After getting the shifting straightened out, I managed to get started again, and made it to the top in good shape.
The next few miles were more ups and downs as we crossed several ridges and creeks. At one point we had the option of trying a “minimum maintenance road”, but it looked pretty sketchy, so we stuck to the main road.
After crossing Vermont Road, we had about two miles of ridge-top riding before we hit the tiny burg of Peoria, then across the river and into the river bottoms, where the road paralleled a creek for a distance, with tall corn on our right and trees on our left.
Eventually we hit the paved Rock Creek Road, and took it back into Rantoul. There were a coulpla good long hills on this stretch before the road dropped us back to the truck.
We ended up with just over 20 miles, with an anemic 10.5 MPH pace, but it was a really fun little ride. We saw some pretty country, as well as lots of wildlife, including wild turkey and deer.