This is a tale of two cyclists, both of whom have been longtime riders around this area. Many Pratt residents would consider Dan McAnarney to have once been an avid cyclist. He was, that is, until August 3, 2017 at 7 p.m. That's when a Pratt County resident (who shall remain unnamed due to legal […]

This is a tale of two cyclists, both of whom have been longtime riders around this area.
Many Pratt residents would consider Dan McAnarney to have once been an avid cyclist. He was, that is, until August 3, 2017 at 7 p.m. That's when a Pratt County resident (who shall remain unnamed due to legal proceedings underway) shifted his truck's gear into reverse and headed toward Dan. Dan had stopped, astride his bicycle, 50-75 feet behind the trucker's driver. He was finagling with his cell phone camera in an effort to photograph the vehicle's license plate, after being closely buzzed by the driver a short time earlier out on Highway 281.
According to Dan, the driver laid 20 feet of rubber on the pavement as he sped backwards. Fortunately, this man put on his brakes before running over Dan, stopping briefly before he slowly continued backward, crushing the front wheel of Dan's bike and bending the front fork. This local cyclist has not had use of this bicycle since last August, since it is being held by police as evidence for the trial.
The original preliminary hearing related to this incident happened last November, but, because the hearing was not properly recorded, the process is set to start all over again on May 31.
These days, Dan's mostly hauls his grandchildren around town on an off road bicycle, rarely venturing outside of town on longer rides.
But that's another story. This past Saturday night, I convinced Dan to join me on a ride to the lake. This 15 mile ride would be his longest of the year, thus far. As we rode east on Lake Road, we spotted another cyclist ahead of us, finally catching up with him at the lake. It was Joe Birzer, a fellow cyclist we both knew.
I asked Joe why he rides. 'I always have,' he replied. He then shared a story about how he and some childhood friends in the Ellinwood area, where he grew up, rode 100 miles on the day before school began in late summer 1958. 'We started before sunrise,' he recalled. He also said that he and his friends worked up to accomplishing this impressive feat (especially considering that these were 13 and 14 year olds on single speed bikes) by gradually increasing their mileage over the course of the summer.
The only time Joe said he didn't ride much was during the four years he served in the US Air Force in Vietnam.
At 73, Joe can often be seen riding around the Pratt area. These days he averages about 70 miles a week.
This retired cyclist said he is motivated to keep riding due to a family history of heart disease and diabetes. In March 2017, he underwent quadruple bypass surgery, having two valves replaced at the same time. By May 2017, he was already back on the bicycle, albeit only riding 5 to 10 miles at a time, every other day, before he slowly worked his way up to his typical 16-18 mile ride.
Perhaps Joe could be a poster child for the American Heart Association. Anyway, Joe's heart surgeon attributed the successful and speedy recovery to the fact that this cyclist is so active.
In 1984 and 1985 Dan McAnarney was the Kansas State Cycling Champion, also being featured on the cover of Kansas magazine around that time. It's sad to see that the actions of an out of control driver have curbed one cyclist's desire to venture too far outside of town.
Hopefully, the ultimate verdict of his trial will favor the rights of cyclists in sharing the road with motorists.