State Park's "Dirty Little Secret" race wins top honors
MANHATTAN -- For the second straight year, racers in the Midwest Fat Tire Series have voted the "Dirty Little Secret," conducted at Tuttle Creek State Park's Fancy Creek Area, their favorite race of the year. The Midwest Fat Tire Series includes a number of competitive mountain bike races each year for teams and individuals. From St. Louis to Manhattan -- and from Arkansas to Iowa -- these races offer some of the hottest competition and best fun in the region.

Among 14 races in the season-long series, running from March to October, participants voted the Oct. 8, 2006, race at Fancy Creek the best. Racers cited several factors for giving the Dirty Little Secret the nod for Race of the Year. The trail's special features and superb condition on race day were the reasons most often cited. The 2007 Dirty Little Secret will be held on Oct. 7 at the same location, and it will be even bigger and better, according to Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks staff.

The Fancy Creek Mountain Bike Trail was originally constructed by the Tuttle Creek AmeriCorps team in 1999. This trail is considered one of the best west of Perry Reservoir all the way to Colorado. The trail is approximately 5.5 miles long. The trail covered 4.5 miles until two years ago, when a group of people working with the state park and the Manhattan Midwest Mountain Bike Patrol started building and maintaining the trail regularly.

The trail is intermediate-to-advanced in difficulty. There are a few sections that very few riders, even the most experienced, can ride without taking extreme care. However, recent work not only added mileage but sections that beginners find challenging but rideable.

The trail is very rocky on the upper sections, riddled with mostly cedar trees. Those who have ridden in Colorado will be reminded of the mountains. The lower sections feature mostly deciduous trees and grass, with many small creek crossings. While riding this trail, bikers pass through rocky coniferous forests, ridge running trails, grassland, and deciduous forests. There are many flowing sections separated by technical parts and switchbacks. Many areas offer great views of the surrounding hills and Tuttle Creek Reservoir.

For more information, phone the park office at 785-539-7941.