Hundreds of bikers pedal into Baldwin City

Story by Sarah Baker, Editor

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More than 800 cyclists arrived in Baldwin City last Friday afternoon, the second-to-last stop in their eight-day journey of biking across Kansas. Starting on June 6 at the Kansas/Colorado state line near Junction City, the Biking Across Kansas bikers rode 502 miles, through amber waves of grain, to the Missouri border near Louisburg.

“I loved how it looked,” said Debbie Malone, a Biking Across Kansas participant from Coffeyville, referring to biking through the Kansas landscape. “Just the scenery and…all of it’s just great!”

The bikers’ previous stop was Council Grove, 80 miles and about a 7-hour-bike-ride. Some bikers left Council Grove around 4 a.m. allowing them to arrive in Baldwin City shortly after noon, while the rest rolled in to town periodically until around 5 p.m.

The hundreds of bikers and their families were treated to a beer garden and a live band in downtown Baldwin City hosted by the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce and the Lumberyard Arts Center.

Becki Dick, a member of both the Lumberyard Arts Center and Chamber of Commerce boards, thinks having the bikers here is great for Baldwin City.

“This is the first time that Baldwin has been asked to be a part of Biking Across Kansas,” Dick said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to show off Baldwin. We’re happy to host everybody. It’s been fun.”

School buses would pick up bikers from their campsite on the lawn of the Baldwin Junior High School and drop them off at various restaurants, like El Patron, and to the festivities downtown between the Lumberyard Arts Center and the post office.

As the band was playing, the bikers and their families enjoying the beer garden and the dinner at the Lumberyard Arts Center, sat along the sidewalk curb, laughed at stories of the journey thus far and shared their feelings about the closing portion of the trip.

The bikers range from their early 20s to mid-80s, from students to retirees. Most of the bikers decided to do this trek because they have been participating in Biking Across Kansas events, and other events like it, for years.

One of the bikers, Jim Davis, said that he takes a week of vacation time from his job to participate in BAK and has for the past three years.

“It’s my vacation,” Davis said, reflecting on the trip. “The small towns. They’re all Kansas people. It’s like one giant 4-H trip … It’s a lot of fun. You see a bunch of different things that you don’t see in a car. We’ll pull over and stop and get a picture.”