Frequently Asked Questions
participants usually have similar questions and concerns about Biking
Across Kansas. Below is a list of frequently asked questions/answers
that may be of benefit to you.
Q: What is the purpose of
A: Biking Across Kansas (BAK) is an annual, eight-day, bicycle tour across the state of Kansas. BAK promotes health and wellness through bicycling, the history and beauty of the Kansas, and the warm hospitality of the Kansas towns and people.
Q: How do you pronounce the "BAK" acronym I see on the web site?
A: It's officially "Biking Across Kansas," but nearly everyone calls it "B.A.K." for short. It's not pronounced "back"— each letter is spoken, as in: B–A–K.
Q: How long has BAK been around?
A: Biking Across Kansas began in June 1975 and has been held annually ever since, with the exception of 2020. BAK is the second longest-running, statewide bicycle tour in the U.S.
Q: How many cyclists participate on BAK?
A: Biking Across Kansas is limited to approximately 700 participants plus support personnel. Participants typically range in age from six to 80+ years old.
Q: Do children participate in BAK?
A: BAK is considered an all-age, all-family ride. Some children participate as riders; some participate on non-riders. The youngest bicyclist is typically around six years old. Like adults, minors should be prepared for all bicycling, weather conditions, etc. on the tour. All persons traveling with BAK must be registered and sign a release. For minors, a parent or legal guardian must sign the release.
When traveling with children on the tour, remember they are on vacation too and consider planning activities both on and off the bike that they will enjoy. Many families seek parks, swimming pools, and other places of interest to children.
Q: My friend lives close to where the route traveling. Can he/she ride with me a day or tour on the tour?
A: BAK welcomes a limited number of part-time riders. Part-time participants must register and sign a release just like all other participants.
Q: My family member/friend is coming with me on BAK, but they will not be bicycling. Do they need to register?
A: Yes, every person traveling with BAK must register and sign a release. No registration and release; no participation. Riders and non-riders alike receive the same amenities. However, non-riders are not allowed at SAG (rest stops). Many non-riding participants choose to volunteer in some capacity.
Q: Can I bring my pet on BAK?
A: BAK discourages bringing pets on BAK. Weather conditions are often not conducive to traveling Kansas highways with a dog or other pet. In addition, schools, which are BAK's overnight accommodations, often forbid pets on school grounds or inside buildings.
Q: What route does BAK take across the state?
A: BAK is always routed on paved roads, using secondary state highways and county roads where possible. BAK makes every attempt to take "the road less traveled." The route varies from year to year.
Q: Do law enforcement agencies close the roads to vehicles for BAK riders?
A: Law enforcement agencies do not close the roads to vehicles. BAK does, however, contact law enforcement agencies along the route and in overnight towns to provide them a copy of the route, discuss possible safety issues, and/or alert them that BAK is staying in their town.
Q: BAK sounds like fun, but I'm not sure if I would be able hang in there with the group—I'm afraid I'll get left behind. Should a beginning cyclist try this?
A: Many BAK participants are first-time riders. This is a truly diverse group with a good mix of beginners and experienced riders. It is highly unlikely that you would not be able to find several people to ride with at your level of ability. However, it is important that you prepare yourself by training consistently and progressively for at least two or three months prior to BAK. Bike Your Butt Off by Selene Yeager is one of many books that offer some training resources.
Q: Any suggestions for training before BAK?
A: One suggestion is that you should be able to ride, at minimum, 30 miles in three hours or less. Make sure you can ride 50-80 miles in a day--don't wait to find out when you're on BAK. A good way to get in shape is to ride with a local bicycle club. You'll be able to put in your miles with other cyclists and learn how to ride safely within a group. In addition, be certain to train on hills and in crosswind and headwind. Yes, Kansas does have hills, and the wind is usually a factor.
Download a 2023 BAK training chart with suggested weekly mileages.
Q: What if I can't finish the ride?
A: Everyone should be physically prepared to cover the daily mileage under their own power. BAK will have a SAG vehicle available ONLY for those persons who have mechanical issues. Expect to wear a mask while loading your bike onto and while riding in the SAG vehicle. Air conditioning will not be available in this vehicle, and it will be sanitized after each transport.
If you simply get tired and need to “SAG in,” call a family member or friend.
If you feel ill or become injured, call 911, and also call to alert BAK officials at 913.735.3035.
If a rider becomes too ill to finish BAK or his/her bicycle suffers irreparable damage, he/she will need to make arrangements to leave the tour and go home. Participants need to have a back-up plan in place in the event they must leave BAK unexpectedly. BAK support is neither equipped nor obligated to transport tired, sick, injured, or "mechanically-challenged" riders for multiple days.
Q: Since Kansas is flat, is BAK one of the easier cross-state bike tours?
A: While we don't have the mountains of Colorado, new riders learn very quickly that Kansas is not so flat. There are sections of level roads, but there are also many challenging inclines, particularly in the eastern third of the state. Kansas wind can be as challenging as climbing, and it may persist all day. Climbs usually lead to descents that provide breaks in the work; however, wind does not provide built-in breaks unless you change directions.
Q: Are there any other challenges about riding in Kansas?
A: The wind is usually a factor in Kansas cycling. Hot June days can be gusty on the Kansas plains. BAK always travels from west to east to take advantage of the prevailing southwest winds, but nature can be unpredictable in Kansas, and you should not expect tailwinds all week. You must be comfortable riding in crosswinds and capable of pedaling into a significant headwind for miles. Even strong cyclists who have never ridden in wind are often surprised how challenging Kansas cycling can be.
The weather is generally clear to partly cloudy to sunny during BAK, but an occasional thunderstorm is not uncommon at least once during the week. Temperatures typically average between 75 and 85 degrees (F), but some years bring much hotter or cooler temperatures. Morning temperatures in the area near the Colorado border can be quite chilly, sometimes dipping down into the 40s overnight. Conversely, it is not unusual to encounter temperatures in the 90s or over 100 once or more during the week, so acclimatizing by training in heat, when possible, is wise. It is not uncommon to experience a rain shower or thunderstorm at some point during the week. Be sure to bring rain gear just in case.
Q: Do BAK riders make stops along the route to sightsee, or do they ride straight through?
A: While a few participants enjoy fast cycling and often ride straight through each day, most riders feel that active sightseeing is the whole point of BAK. Most participants do stop often to enjoy the experience of rural Kansas. Stops include anything you might imagine: visits with locals, towns with interesting cafes, shops or museums, local tours, roadside historical markers, lemonade stands, scenic vistas, shady trees, etc. BAK's participant route guide outline many historical sites, museums, and places of interest along the route.
Q: Do I have to finish riding by any particular time each day?
A: Each rider will determine his or her own pace—you are not required to arrive at the day's destination at any set time (provided it is before dusk). SAG support is available no later than 5:00 p.m., so it's a good idea to be finished by then. Typically, most BAK participants depart each morning between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. and arrive at the overnight destination between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. Some arrive sooner, others later. The luggage trucks begin to unload about 1:00 p.m., so some riders try to coordinate their arrival at that time. Riding in the dark (before sunrise or after sunset) is extremely dangerous and is not authorized by Biking Across Kansas.
Q: Do BAK organizers provide guidance during the week, or I am on my own?
A: The BAK leader team uses several forms of communication to ensure that participants are kept informed of changes in route, road hazards, points-of-interest, etc. 1) Each participant receives a printed route guide at the beginning of the week and has the option to download an electronic/mobile route guide. The route guide provides maps, notes about meals and dining options, overnight facilities and historic features along the route. 2) Information is also posted daily on the electronic message board at the overnight stop, which is always located near the BAK Info Station. 3) Text messages are general sent to riders twice daily and more often if an urgent matter arises. 4) Depending on the conditions in June, a group, evening meeting held evenings at 8:00 pm to provide riders with vital information about the next day's ride and recap interesting things that happened during the current day's ride.
Q: What COVID-19 regulations will we be following?
A: Your safety, the safety of other riders, and the safety of the communities in which we stay are our highest priority. Note that we are required to abide by KDHE, county, city, and host school districts’ respective regulations/ordinances/mandates that are in place at the time of the June tour. BAK will be monitoring the situation and will update you as things change. Note that both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons will be participating in this tour.
Q: If an emergency arises or dangerous, inclement weather is approaching, how will BAK notify riders?
A: The BAK leader team will notify participants of emergency situations or that dangerous, inclement weather is approaching through a text messaging system.
Q: Where do BAK participants eat?
A: Participants are responsible for most of their own meals throughout the week. BAK does provide three meals during the trip and a celebration dinner/picnic. BAK riders usually dine at local restaurants or (if we're fortunate) at community fundraiser meals prepared by local civic groups.
Q: What about food stops during the day?
A: BAK provides several SAG (support) stops throughout each day on the route. SAGs are positioned between towns, in areas where riders will most need water and energy food. SAGs provide water (and sometimes energy drinks), fruit, and other energy snacks to help cyclists make it through the day. BAK attempts to place SAG stops 15-20 miles apart. BAK participants should take advantage of both the SAG stops and services in the towns we pass. We don't recommend relying only on the SAGs during the day. If you're in a town and are getting low on water or food, find a place to recharge right there. Don't wait until the next SAG stop; you could be in dire need by then. Mid-ride meals are available at local restaurants or in limited situations, through fundraisers.
Q: What does the word "SAG" stand for?
A: SAG is a widely-used term in the cycling world and usually refers to a stationary vehicle or location that provides support for passing riders. While there are several theories as to what it stands for, most likely it's an acronym for "Support and Gear." You will also hear the term used as a verb meaning the someone did not finish the day's ride. For example, "He got hurt and sagged in."
Q: Are personal vehicles or personal SAGs allowed on BAK?
A: For the safety of the bicyclists, personal vehicles traveling with BAK are strongly encouraged to travel an alternative route, which will be provided by the BAK leadership. The fewer the personal vehicles on the roads and at SAG stops with bicyclists, the safer the conditions are for cyclists. Statics show that vehicles cause more accidents on bicycle tours than bicyclists themselves.
Q: Where do BAK participants sleep?
A: Schools serve as BAK’s overnight accommodations and home base each day. During BAK 2022, you should be prepared to tent outdoors on school grounds. BAK will make every effort to offer LIMITED indoor sleeping at the schools. However, indoor sleep is contingent on the prevailing conditions of COVID-19 in June. If indoor sleeping is allowed, seniors and those with medical conditions will have first priority. Those sleeping indoors do so at their own risk. Rider either bring their own tenting gear or secure tent rental/set-up services through Alpaca Adventure Tours. Others will reserve (at their own expense) motel/hotel rooms, bed and breakfasts, or spaces at RV parks where available. BAK does not endorse any motels, hotels, bed and breakfasts, or RV parks along the route.
Q: Does BAK provide a list of motels or RV parks in or nearby overnight towns?
A: Periodically, host cities provide a list of motels/hotels or RV parks. Contact email@example.com to inquire. NOTE that BAK does not endorse any motels/hotels or RV parks in or nearby overnight towns.
Q: If I do tent camp, where will I be able to set up?
A: Most school facilities allow BAK participants to place their tents on the maintained lawns immediately surrounding the school. On rare occasions, designated camping facilities are a block or two from the school. Specifics will be included in your route guide.
Q: What should I pack?
A: Generally, pack as light and tight as possible. Riders must provide tents, sleeping bags, towels and other personal items. You will be allowed two bags not to exceed 40 pounds total and not more than three cubic feet each. BAK does not permit the indoor use of sleeping cots, chairs or any other item that could damage the surface of a gymnasium floor.
You will need clothing for both on and off the bike. It is a good idea to have at least two sets of cycling gear in case you wash your clothes in the shower, but they don't completely dry before the next morning. Good-quality, padded cycling shorts sare recommended. Clothing that wicks, like cycling jerseys, will be more comfortable than cotton, which will hold sweat. Cycling jerseys also generally have pockets that are handy for holding ID, money, on-bike snacks, lip balm, etc. Be sure to bring your cycling shoes, socks, and helmet. Cycling glove may also enhance your comfort on the bike. You may want shower shoes in the locker room. Lightweight, packable towels take up far less room in your bag and dry more quickly than conventional towels. Bring comfortable sleeping clothes, suitable for a slumber party with several hundred friends. You will probably want loose, comfortable shorts and shirts off the bike, and it is wise to bring at least one sweatshirt and pair of long pants for chilly mornings or evenings. You will need sweat-resistant sunscreen. Travel-sized versions of your toiletries will be most practical. See the suggested packing list here for more details.
Q: What type of bicycle should I have?
A: While you will see people on a wide range of bikes, a road bike will likely be most enjoyable on BAK. Mountain bikes are generally heavier and not designed for the distance BAK covers on the road. Your local bike shop can advise you and make suggestions for your budget and experience level. Most importantly, your bicycle should be in good condition with good tires and a clean, lubed chain. You should carry two extra tubes in a seat bag, and you should have a frame pump or CO2 cartridges. While there will be floor pumps on the ride, you should be self-reliant with the equipment and the knowledge/experience to handle a flat. A vehicle with a floor pump may not be nearby when you need it.
Q: Are E-bikes allowed on BAK?
If you’re considering riding an ebike on BAK, here’s what you should know if you are thinking about bringing it on BAK:
• You are responsible for ensuring your ebike is fully charged before the start of each day.
• BAK cannot guarantee access to the electricity to charge ebike batteries.
• Daily mileage on BAK may exceed the battery range of your ebike. If this happens, you will be expected to complete the day’s ride under your own power. Transportation to the overnight town will not be provided in the event of battery depletion.
• Mechanical support for ebikes is very limited not available on the ride.
• BAK staff and volunteers will not lift or transport ebikes.
While we recognize the growing popularity of ebikes and acknowledge their potential to increase the accessibility of road cycling to some riders who might not otherwise be able to ride a bike for significant distances, BAK is a self-propelled tour, and we cannot accommodate the unique situations presented by the addition of ebikes. If you choose to bring your ebike on BAK, you must be prepared to handle each of the above issues in a self-sufficient manner.
Q: How do I get to the start and back home from the finish?
A: Participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from BAK. Many choose to take one of the chartered buses from either the Kansas City area or Wichita. Others are delivered and picked-up with personal vehicles driven by friends or family. Still others get together to organize a carpool. A few even ride their bicycles to the starting point.
Q: What if someone needs to contact me during the week?
A: If you don't bring a personal cell phone on BAK, for emergency situations, the best bet is for someone to contact the local police/sheriff department in the closest overnight city so they can relay a message to BAK. BAK officials will also have cell phones, although service is not guaranteed in rural Kansas. During the week of BAK, we will provide a number to contact our communications director. For non-emergency communication, participants will need to make their own arrangements (e.g., your personal cell phone). BAK staff may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, but this is not intended for emergency messages.
Q: Is there a participant forum at which I can meet and communicate with other BAK riders?
A. Yes, Join the Biking Across Kansas Discussion and Photos Group on Facebook to stay in touch with other cyclists. In addition, check the Biking Across Kansas event page on Facebook for information specifically from Biking Across Kansas, Inc.