Biking Across Kansas tour plans June overnight stop in Baldwin City
Baldwin City will see an invasion of bicyclists June 13 as the annual Biking Across Kansas tour makes its first overnight stop in the community.
Stefanie Weaver, executive director of Biking Across Kansas, said 900 riders were expected to participate in the annual tour, which starts June 6 on the Colorado line near Johnson City and concludes June 13 east of Louisburg. The riders will spend their final night of June 12 at Baldwin City Junior High School after completing an 80-mile ride down U.S. Highway 56 from Council Grove.
Weaver said this year’s 41st annual ride of more than 500 miles will retrace much of the old Santa Fe Trail, and include overnight stops at Lakin, Jetmore, Larned, Sterling and Gossell, as well as the final two stops and a post-race celebration in Louisburg.
Meeting the state’s people and exploring towns is one of the big draws of Biking Across Kansas, Weaver said.
“Our riders like learning about different areas and their histories and enjoy the hospitality of Kansas,” she said. “Baldwin City has a lot of history I think they will enjoy. It’s a new overnight stop for us. So far, we’ve been pleased with the hospitality and support.”
The riders will stay overnight at Baldwin Junior High School, where they can shower and camp. But not all the participants are ready to bed down for the night. As such, the tour is an opportunity to Kansas towns to showcase themselves and their histories, Weaver said. The influx of tired, hungry riders is also an opportunity for local community organizations to raise money.
“We increase the populations of some towns pretty significantly,” Weaver said. “There is an opportunity for local organizations to provide meals for fundraisers. There’s nothing our bicyclers love more than homemade pie and ice cream.”
The Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce is working with BAK to coordinate the local hospitality effort, said Hank Booth, Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce executive director. The early thought is to entertain the bikers at Spurgeon Park downtown, where community groups would be invited to offer meals, desserts and other fare, he said.
The tour’s riders range in age from 8 to mid-80s, come from all walks of life and will be from 27 to 30 different states, Weaver said. The bikers’ approach to the ride is equally varied.
“Some of our riders are very early birds, who leave at the crack of dawn and pedal straight through,” she said. “They should get to Baldwin City in the early morning. Some of us like to stop and smell the roses a bit more.”
Whatever their approach, the riders should be in a good, if not celebratory mood, when they arrive in Baldwin City for the last overnight stop of the tour, Weave said.
“It will be our final night together,” she said. “For some, it will be their final night with their bicycle group and friends they’ve made on the ride.”
When first organized, BAK offered riders the choice of a southern, central and northern route. Weaver said that practice ended in 2004 when all participants started riding the same route. The tour now attempts to alternate southern, central and northern routes on a three-year basis, she said.