Hundreds of bicycle tires will be turning this weekend across Pratt and Barber counties as bikers from across the state participate in the "Bike MS Autumn Trails Classic."
This is the second year in a row the Pratt has played host to the classic although it has existed for 27 years, said Jason Dilts, Classic development manager.
The Classic raises money for multiple sclerosis research. The disease can cause blurred vision, difficulty walking and cognitive loss.
Research is paying off. In the last 10 years, more treatment options have been available than in the entire history of the disease, Dilts said.
Following a very successful classic in 2012, the organization determined to return to Pratt because of the overwhelming response from the community.
"We really felt the community embraced us," Dilts said. "We got a fantastic response from the volunteers and riders."
About 200 cyclists, many from Wichita but a few local riders as well, will start gathering in Pratt Friday, Sept. 6 and will be camping in the gym at the Municipal Building, the gym in Liberty Middle School and at local hotels and motels.
Registration will start at 6 a.m. in front of LMS on the oval drive. Riders have to be at least 12 years old to participate. Riders between 12 and 17 have to have a signed release from their parents and at least one to ride with the child.
Riders can register the day of the event for $50. Each rider is expected to raise at least $200 to donate to MS. For riders that register Saturday morning, they have until the end of October to raise the funds.
Many riders raise over the minimum, hitting from $500 to $600. The champion fundraiser is Dr. Glen Patton with $15,000. The goal of the Pratt event is $124,000, Dilts said.
Riders can chose from four different routes that will cover 20 miles, 50 miles, 80 miles or 100 miles. The start-finish line is at Liberty Middle School.
At 7 a.m. the first group of riders will take off followed by other groups for each route.
The longest riders will cover a wide area of Pratt County and Barber County through Nashville, Zenda, Willowdale, St. Leo, Isabel and Sawyer.
Volunteers are the key to the success of the Classic. About 100 volunteers will take up positions all along the route to supply support.
Support stops are set up every 10 miles along the route with porta potties, shade, food, water, tech support for bicycles and medical support for riders.
Bicycle shops from Wichita to help do maintenance on the bicycles.
Also lending support are safety riders on motorcycles that ride the routes and check on riders conditions. Ham radio operators also help keep track of the riders and provide communications for safety, Dilts said.
When the ride is over for the day on Saturday, the riders can enjoy some live music, get a snow cone and chill out in a tent.
For those riders feeling a little sore after covering miles and miles of highway, Bohemian Healing Spa will offer therapeutic messages.
The evening will culminate at 6 p.m. at the Pratt County Fairgrounds with a supper provided by Noodles and Company caterers. Pratt Mayor Jeff Taylor and other elected officials have been invited to join the evening event.
After a nights rest, riders are up again at 6 a.m. to prepare for another 7 a.m. leave time for one of two rides; A 30 mile ride down to Coats or a 58 mile ride to Sun City and back.
The return of the final riders on Sunday brings the event to a close.