For the first time in its 45 year history, Biking Across Kansas will not take place this summer.
The event has been a noteworthy event that visited and brought attention for many small towns in the state.
“While it’s obviously the right and necessary decision, I feel for all the small towns along the way,” Atchison Mayor Shawn Rizza said. “BAK is a way for those communities to show off for the 1,000 or so riders that participate every year.”
The event finished in Atchison last year and Rizza said it saddens him that many small towns won’t have a similar opportunity in June.
“When we had the ride finish in Atchison last year I heard over and over how pleasantly surprised people were with our city,” Rizza said. “It was our chance to make an impact on fellow Kansans, and I’m sad other cities won’t have that same opportunity this year.”
Long time participant Jason Johnson said the choice to cancel was right but couldn’t have been easy.
“We’re all missing out on so many things and life events this year and I’m certain BAK organizers agonized over the decision but I think we all agree it’s the right decision,” Johnson said.
Marie Moore was gearing up to ride in the event for the eighth time and was also volunteering for the event as well.
“I know it was a tough decision for them to make because it’s the best weekend of the summer for us,” Moore said. “It’s very disappointing and so much goes into the event from the volunteers, to riders and the towns we stop in.”
Dr. Pam Rizza said the pandemic situation at hand pretty much made the unfavorable health optics impossible to ignore.
“You are sleeping and eating with hundreds of your closest friends for seven nights with limited access to showers, sinks, and running water,” Dr. Rizza said. “A traveling caravan of Coronavirus going across the state doesn’t sound like a very good public health decision.”
Johnson summed up how many people feel having seen something they love or looking forward to being taken away from them the last few weeks.
“It’s disappointing but the world seems to be filled with disappointment these days,” Johnson said. “I’m grateful for the great ride last year with it ending in Atchison and look forward to next year’s ride.”
Moore is looking forward to 2021 and said for anyone who wants to keep biking to not be afraid to go on a mini trip of their own this summer.
“Just keep biking and shoot for long distances,” Moore said. “I still like to drive to another town, have lunch and ride back. You can still do some of those things hopefully this summer.”
Moore also encourages anyone interested in biking to join the Atchison Bicycle Club group on Facebook. The group meets to ride bikes on Thursdays in the summer.