June 23, 1996

by Larry Christie

Recap of the week of Biking Across Kansas 1996

Sometimes I look at Biking Across Kansas as a series of accidents, complaints, cold showers, missed connections, and other problems associated with organizing a week long bicycling event that involves 21 different overnight cities and over 1,500 miles of highways in the state of Kansas. When you look at an event like that it is easy to overlook the positive things that happened along the way.

Yes we did have a few accidents. Probably the most serious sounding was when a rider fell and shattered a replacement hip joint and was flown to an out of state hospital specializing in that kind of repair. A little over a week later we found out that individual had been very lucky and the repair was much less than we had expected, in fact we heard that he had returned to work. Of course there were bicycle failures and people failures causing accidents, but luckily none proved to be serious after the initial soreness went away.

I was lucky this year and didn't have to listen to many complaints. One complaint that we hear every year is why don't the days have more even mileage's? I guess some of the riders towards the end of the week start getting tired and forget that we use existing facilities along the way. It would be nice if we could have the days more even in distance but locating a gymnasium with showers and eating facilities and even more so the property to erect such facilities would be difficult to arrange. Another complainer was from a new timer that had been on a different kind of event and had trouble understanding how we operate. Our operation has been more or less successful for over 22 years.

The first night with the group that I was with the Principal didn't know that we were coming and was sorta upset. Our arrangements were with the Superintendent and the School Board and I guess they forgot to keep the Principal informed. All worked well after we talked with him and explained what had happened. Generally the schools are happy to have us return to their facility and at times they will provide a special place for the leaders to have a few minutes of quiet time away from the group.

Other problems were for the first time the Celebration Dinner ran a little short of food. Some people had to take less than we had expected for them to eat that day. Others weren't able to return for seconds and thirds as quite often happens. On the good side we had plenty of beer and pop for everyone. Even Peter had all he wanted.
We also had problems with the computers in support of the daily update of the web page. First the Powerbook that I use to write and to access the Quicktake camera spit up the day before we started out in western Kansas so except for a few pictures taken earlier that evening we had no pictures to place until we found Collins Consulting an authorized Apple Service Provider in Colby. Steven Ohirogge was very patient with the problem and we thought we had it all under control only to find later that the software for the camera was still not correct. I then made a quick trip home and reloaded the software and no more troubles were encountered for the rest of the week with the equipment. That trip home by the way was nearly a 500 mile round trip for me.

I guess the other problem with the web page was that we offered to deliver e-mail for the entrants. Before hand we had informed them that it might take several days for the e-mail to be delivered due to the three different routes and the senders needed to be sure and put the recipients name and route on the e-mail. Well you can guess how well that worked for some. There were people that followed the rules and included the necessary info but there were still were those that addressed to "Dad" or "Jim and Jane." We had a few that received a number of messages every day and a few of those that complained that there was no privacy and we didn't deliver all the messages. Some were trying to, they said run business, from the ride. On future events we will have to reconsider if we will offer e-mail service to the entrants. It was time consuming, expensive and was not very successful.

The City involvement this year was something to see. Nearly every city we visited had something special for the cyclists. Goodland and St. Francis arranged for truck transportation to the start. Hoxie provided a information booth with drinks trinkets, and maps on the arrival to the city and also a free movie that evening. Nearly all cities had free swimming. Belleville had a big welcome for me as a former resident and High School Graduate along with free watermelon that evening. Hiawatha our last night greeted us with signs every 100 ft for over two miles on each of the two entrances and provided many extra's while we were there.

On the plus side the cards, letters, thank yous and expressions of enjoyment make up for most of the other concerns. We had a visitor the other day that came to pick up some lost items that said that she had taken all three of her children on the trip as a growth period for them and now if they didn't push too hard she would now go by herself in the future. It was obvious that she felt that Biking Across Kansas was for her.

And to finish - the faith that we have in the residents of Kansas is often restored when we do this trip. One of our leaders left her bag containing her money, credit card, check book, drivers license and other valuables at the street dance in Hiawatha. We received a call on Monday after we returned that someone in Hiawatha had the bag and would like to return it to its owner. Thank you Kansas.
Larry Christie,
BAK Director

Home Overview Reports Routes Mail