Baldwin City prepares for Friday arrival of 880 bicyclists
Baldwin City is preparing to make an impression on the 880 bicyclists and their volunteer helpers who will visit the community Friday.
The city will be the final overnight stop of this year’s Biking Across Kansas, which started Friday on the Kansas/Colorado line west of Johnson City. The riders have been grinding out from 46 to 89 miles a day since and will spend Wednesday evening in Council Grove 80 miles west of Baldwin City. They will refresh, shower and sleep Friday night at Baldwin City Junior High School, both on the grounds and indoors.
The community has put together a number of activities to feed and entertain the bicyclists while showing off what the community has to offer, said Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce director Hank Booth.
“The cooperation on this has been great, especially the school district, chamber members and the Lumberyard people,” Booth said. “It’s a ‘what can we do for you next’ kind of attitude.”
The Baldwin High School Spanish Club will have a cold drink stand at the junior high, but the focal point of the evening will be downtown’s Joe Spurgeon Park. Booth said the Baldwin school district has made buses available starting at 5:30 p.m. to shuttle bicyclists who have had their fill of riding for the day. In addition, the Baldwin City Tourism Committee will run its trolley Friday evening.
A trailer will be placed in the downtown park to serve as a stage for the band Kim and the Quake. The band will start playing at 7 p.m., take a break at 8 p.m. for the BAK’s evening meeting and then play until 9:30 p.m. There will also be a beer garden serving brews from Lawrence’s Free State Brewery.
The Lumberyard Arts Center, Baldwin First United Methodist Church and the Order of the Eastern Star will have food available for the cyclists downtown, said Linda Ballinger, who is organizing an effort to ensure the bikers have access to all the fundraising efforts and restaurants. Shuttle buses will make stops at five different sites, she said.
It will be an early evening as the BAK’s lights out at the junior high is scheduled for 10 p.m., Booth said.
Stephanie Weaver, executive director of Biking Across Kansas, said the cyclists were aware of what Baldwin City and other cities on the route have planned and have to offer.
“We publish a route guide that shows the food and entertainment available at the different communities, as well as the different historical sites along the way,” she said. “We try to promote the state and its communities.”
This year’s riders range in age from 9 to 85 and hail from 36 states and 70 counties in Kansas, Weaver said.
Their approach to the ride is equally diverse, Weaver said. Some serious riders leave near the crack of dawn and pedal hard until they arrive at the next overnight destination while others take a more leisurely ride, stopping to see the sights along the way. The first of the serious riders would probably complete the 80-mile ride from the previous day’s overnight stop at Council Grove by about 10 a.m., and cyclists would continue to arrive in until about 4 p.m., she said.
As the last night of the ride, the cyclists should be in a good mood in Baldwin City, despite the ride's distance. Weaver said. There might be a touch of sadness as new riders realized they are about to be separated from friends they’ve made in the past week
“It’s amazing to see the sense of community that develops, not only among the riders but with the communities we pass through,” she said. “They all come together to do what it takes to get riders across the state. For the communities, it’s their time to shine and show off the community and be rewarded for all the hard work they’ve put in for months.”