Well, not a race exactly, more a feat of dedication, strength, and spirit – The annual Bike Across Kansas or BAK event has started! This year’s 555 mile route starts from the southwest corner and heads to the northeast.
We reached out to Stefanie Weaver, the organizations executive director for her thoughts on the event.
Kansas Trail Guide: What makes BAK so special?
Weaver: BAK gives people a chance to do something unique, something that now everyone has the chance to do. It brings people of all ages (7-88) and all walks of life together with a common interest of bicycling and enjoying the beauty of the Kansas landscape, towns and people. BAK creates a community all to itself — building relationships and long lasting friendships that create what we call “BAK Moments.”
There are no barriers when bicycling through Kansas that you have on a vehicle. You are totally immersed in the environment.
Kansas Trail Guide: What can people do this year to support the tour?
Weaver: Towns provide BAK riders great support as we pass through or stay overnight. One favorite thing is people making themselves available simply for conversations–about themselves, their communities, etc. Some of the fondest many are built with the direct involvement of townspeople. Towns often provide nightly entertainment, homemade fundraiser meals, tours of local points of interest, passes to the local pool, and many other amenities that highlight that town’s “personality” and hospitality. Riders are often as interested in sites, sounds, and towns as they are bicycling.
Kansas Trail Guide: What if people are inspired to ride next year, what should they do?
Weaver: BAK registration opens traditionally at midnight on January 29, which is Kansas Day. This year registration filled to capacity on 2 1/2 days.
Kansas Trail Guide: How do you feel the event does for the state and the community?
Weaver: A sense of community–both among its riders and within the tons we stay–is established during BAK. Whether joining up with other riders to make the bicycling trip easier, hanging out at a SAG stop support stop), visiting a local museum or historical site, coming together for the nightly meeting, pitching in to wash dishes in a local cafe, or changing a flat tire, relationship building is constantly taking place.
The towns at which we stay come together to support BAK–ensuring riders have plenty of homemade food to eat, things to do, and and sites to see. It’s the townspeople, the volunteers that make riders feel at home. For many of the small towns, it stretches them, but they never fail. We’ve been told that BAK brings an exciting people-to-people cultural exchange and that created a lasting impression.
Kansas Trail Guide: What are some misconceptions people have about Kansas that get smashed with events like the BAK?
Weaver: The first misconception is that Kansas is flat; however, people quickly realize this is a myth. They also discover hat Kansas is a state with a variety of geography. People are surprised by the beauty of the Gypsum Hills, Smoky Hills, and Flint Hills. Traveling from the southwest to northeast this year, riders will experience Kansas’ variety. Beginning with the high plains of the Cinnamon Grasslands, progressing through Arkansas River Valley, Smoky Hills, Flint Hills, and ending on the Glaciated Region, riders will experience the simple beauty of Kansas.
To all the riders and supporters in this year’s event – have fun, stay safe, and enjoy the ride!