South to Somerset

On a day that promised firecracker-hot temperatures, but instead delivered a slightly soggy and overcast sky, Reed and I did a gravel road ride south to the town of Somerset in central Miami County, Kansas.

For the first part of the ride, we followed the same route that 9Toes and I had taken two months earlier on a training ride. Coincidentally, that day had been rainy and cool as well, only more so.

Here’s a shot of Somerset Road, at perhaps 271st Street. You can see that the road is not really muddy, just tacky, though there were a few patches of mud elsewhere on the route. This is also one of the few cars we saw on gravel all day.

This picture was taken at a bridge a bit further along Somerset Road. It’s a rather odd bridge, with a beautiful steel structure, but it doesn’t really connect to anything, other than a home on the other side of the creek. It seems a little grand for a privately-funded bridge, but it doesn’t seem to be public either. I bet there’s a cool story behind it.

(BTW, the sepia tint is because I took the photo with the camera looking through my sunglasses. On this overcast day, the yellow-ish lens really brightened the day and brought out the colors.)

(BTW #2, those little bulbs you see hanging from the bridge, those are Christmas lights. Classy — though I bet it looks neat at night.)

(BTW #3, this is a recreation of a photo I took on the earlier ride — for some reason I really like this location for photos.)

After a brief stint on K-68 highway, we hit the town of Somerset, though there’s not much to it — a few houses, a closed-down gas station, a machine shop / junkyard, and a small cemetery. According to Blue Skyways:

Somerset was laid out in 1871 by an incorporated town company of people from New Jersey. The first store was opened in the fall of the year and a grist and sawmill was started by the company about the same time. A postoffice was established and the town flourished for some years, but was overshadowed by Paola and Louisburg. It has several general stores, a blacksmith shop, church and school houses, and is surrounded by a rich agricultural community, but had a population of only 60 in 1910.

The final photo is from 287th Street, just west of Somerset, at the Wea Creek bridge, looking west. There are a few nice hills in this section of road between Somerset and Paola, and the traffic is light, since K-68 is only a mile away. Also, the Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery is located just south of Somerset, but it’s not open on Mondays. I’d like to go back and explore this area more sometime. (I expect the Cider Mill Century to come through here this Sunday — it did last year — but it’ll just be following 287th Street, and the route won’t venture onto gravel.)

On the way back we skirted Paola and Lake Miola, then headed north on Old KC Road, with a nice tailwind pushing us along. We stopped for a bite in Hillsdale, then rolled through Spring Hill and on home for a total of just over 41 miles.

It was a fun ride, on a day that turned out to be much nicer than expected, which is always a nice bonus.

DirtBum Written by:

I enjoy riding bicycles all over -- city streets, suburbia, rural roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, rail-trails, and singletrack. I love exploring the countryside and finding the interesting and historical treasures hidden in plain sight. You can follow my rides on Strava.