About 700 Biking Across Kansas riders stopped in Pratt, a host city, on June 11 as they make their way across 588 miles across the state.
It looked like a tent convention on the First United Methodist Church Lawn on Monday but it was a gathering place for some of the almost 700 bicyclists in Biking Across Kansas. Pratt was a one of eight host cities along the way for the riders that will cover 588 miles, said rider Richard Mann, of Stratton, Colo.
Mann, who is on his tenth Biking Across Kansas, said he left Ashland about 6:45 a.m. on Monday, June 11, and rode the 86 miles to Pratt. It is the longest daily ride on the route. On June 12, riders traveled from Pratt to Clearwater, a distance of 83 miles. There was an alternate century loop that riders could take if they wanted to cover 100 miles in a single day.
Mann said the riders like to start early in the day, before 6 a.m., because the wind is not so high and the temperature is not as high either.
Riders get spread out during each day's ride and they arrive at their stop in ones and twos. The check-in point for the riders in Pratt was the Pratt High School and ACE parking lot and lawns. Some riders set up tents there while others chose the prepared tent city on the FUMC lawn.
For Mann and the other riders, the journey started at the Kansas/Colorado Boarder west of Johnson City. Then it was westward across the state with stops at host cities Montezuma, Ashland, Pratt, Clearwater, Burden, Fredonia, Arma and finally Fort Scott on Saturday, June 16.
The shortest ride was the first day from the Colorado boarder to Johnson City with 16 miles. All other days are over 60 or 70 or 80 miles.
Mann said the first day they had to deal with a head wind. He said this year is hotter than it has been in the past.
He said he likes doing the ride because it's a challenge, both physically and mentally. He also likes the fact that he is in charge of himself and there are no employers involved. He was glad the long ride was over Monday afternoon and was relaxing at the tent city provided by Bubba’s Pampered Pedalers.
Bubba’s Pampered Pedalers is a private operator and not organized by Biking Across Kansas. Their Director of Logistics “Huffy” said they provide the tent service for bike riders across America including Florida, Michigan, California and more. They move luggage, provide a rest area, tents, chairs and snacks.
Riders wanting Pampered Pedalers have to make those arrangements themselves.
Riding almost 600 miles takes a toll on riders and bikes. Golden Belt Bicycle Company out of Great Bend is providing service for riders on their journey across Kansas including one unfortunate rider whose chain got into his spokes when he was down shifting. The result was three broken spokes. Todd VanSkike, owner of Golden Belt, got some assistance from local bike enthusiast Dan McAnarney as they tackled this and other problems while riders relaxed after their day’s ride.