I ended my ride across Kansas with 543.4 miles. The terrain and towns we went through reminded me a lot of riding around the eastern half of South Dakota. However, there was a whole different feel to this tour.
The daily distances were never very long, and if you wanted to do a century, you were on your own. Many riders doubled back on the same road far enough to get 100 miles in when they finished. They could hit the same SAG stops as everyone else, but the scenery must have looked pretty familiar.
It had an inclusive feel. Many riders would ride part of the day, or take turns riding days, with a personal SAG helping them out when they couldn't continue. For many it seemed it was more important to take part in Biking Across Kansas, than actually biking across Kansas. That's not how I like to approach a ride, but it's kind of nice.
There were meetings nightly that some riders chose not to attend, but as a first-timer I wanted to get the feel for the whole experience, so I faithfully went. At the meetings staff covered the next day's route, weather forecast, where we might find lunch along the way, and even a little history of the area. If you wanted to spend a lot of time checking out museums, historical markers and such, this would be a great tour on which to do it. They also asked that riders wore name tags all week, and sign out when you left in the morning, and sign in when you arrived.
Sometimes the reminders about breaking down to single file when cresting a hill, washing you hands before taking food or filling your water bottle made me feel like I was in grade school again, with a Penske truck rather than a short bus. But it served us well, and a lot of folks seemed to like the camaraderie. I guess it's nice that strong riders can ride fast, do centuries, and have support for a ride across KS. And novices, or not-as-serious cyclists, can ride at their own pace, and still enjoy a multi-day, supported tour.
I met a lot of friendly people from Kansas and several other states. And while we didn't become best friends, we spent time riding together, eating together, and laughing together. There was always a friendly face to say hi to as the week went on. I would like to do BAK again sometime, but it doesn't need to be soon. There are many other states I need to ride through, and Colorado keeps calling me back for some of the most beautiful, challenging rides I could want. But, as you know if you've read my blog before, anytime I can spend the week with nothing to worry about but where to ride, what to eat, and where to pitch my tent, it's a great week. If you love riding, you would love a week-long tour. Get out and ride!