If you find yourself out and about late in the day next Monday or early in the morning on Tuesday, you may notice an unusually large number of brightly-colored, Lycra-clad cyclists rolling into, through, or out of town. Participants in Biking Across Kansas (BAK) will spend the night in Pratt next Monday. This community of […]

If you find yourself out and about late in the day next Monday or early in the morning on Tuesday, you may notice an unusually large number of brightly-colored, Lycra-clad cyclists rolling into, through, or out of town.
Participants in Biking Across Kansas (BAK) will spend the night in Pratt next Monday. This community of cyclists will then slowly trickle out of town one, two, three, four or more at a time early Tuesday morning.
Here's a mantra for local drivers to follow while the BAKers are in town: Drive fully aware. Cyclists are everywhere.
Over its 44 year history, BAK has stopped in Pratt only once previously, in 2001. For the 2018 ride, Pratt will be the largest community accommodating cyclists overnight. Incidentally, three communities will be hosting BAK cyclists for the first time this year, including Montezuma, Fredonia, and Arma.
One local resident who will be participating in BAK is former Pratt High School Principal, Tim Kuhn. Tim is a veteran cyclist, having ridden across the country four times in an east to west (or vice versa) direction and one time south to north.
'I thought it would be good training. I'm getting ready to go on a long ride after BAK. Plus it's overnighting in Pratt, and I thought that would be pretty cool,' said Kuhn. He has a friend from Hutchinson who'll be joining him on this year's ride.
While in Pratt, many cyclists will be visiting Parkwood Village as part of a planned visit. A BAK barbershop quartet, known as The Spokesmen, will also be serenading residents of the assisted living facility during the visit.
Stefanie Weaver, Executive Director of BAK since Fall 2013, describes the experience this way: 'BAK gives people a chance to do something unique, something that not everyone has the chance to do. It brings people of all ages (10-85) and all walks of life together with a common interest in 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.''
Because of the limited natural lawn surface (for tenters) available around our local high school/junior high, persons who choose to camp out are being encouraged to stay in motels while in town.
Local motel owners will thus be one beneficiary of the visit of 600+ cyclists to town. Local restaurants should also see a spike in revenue.
As well, several local organizations, including the Skyline FFA, Youth Core Ministries, and a local employee group connected to Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism will offer an evening meal for cyclists. Ascension Lutheran Church will prepare the morning meal before riders depart town.
Past participants of BAK have donned buttons with the initials EAK imprinted over an image of a pig. This stands for Eating Across Kansas, which is a significant part of what cyclists do as they make their way across the state from Colorado to Missouri. Restaurants in small towns along the way are sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer volume of hungry cyclists looking for a bite to eat.
I still recall the reaction of one waitress in Clyde, many BAKS ago, who stood staring, slack-jawed, as cyclists after cyclist poured into her tiny restaurant. Many of those same cyclists ended up helping out by taking orders, clearing tables, and so on.
For BAK 2018, 490 Kansas cyclists from 65 counties and 124 cities will be riding across the state. They will be joined by 135 riders from out of state.
Kansas native and Chairman of BAK, David Rohr, describes the 2018 version of the ride this way: 'Biking Across Kansas 2018 offers a variation of the much-requested southern route that Biking Across Kansas has visited less frequently than other parts of the state. The route will take cyclists through several scenic regions of Kansas including the wide-open High Plains, the Red Hills, the famed wheat country of south central Kansas, and the rolling Flint Hills. Highlights along the way include the Adobe Museum in Ulysses, the Stauth Museum in Montezuma, the Dalton Gang Hideout in Meade, the Big Basin sinkhole in Clark County, the World's Largest Hand-Dug Well in Greensburg, the Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine, and Historic Fort Scott.'