The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 14, 2013

Bicyclists pedal Kansas — border to border

OSWEGO, Kan. — Kansas, according to a few of the 800 cyclists who just spent the last eight days crossing it, is not flat.

“Get on a bicycle, and you’ll see,” advised Rick Younger, a 55-year-old Pittsburg native who now lives in Wichita.

Younger, who was drenched in sweat Friday at noon as the mercury climbed toward 90 degrees, stopped for water at a welcome station manned by community volunteers at the west edge of Oswego. Having gotten on his bicycle at dawn, he had just pedaled 82 miles from Sedan, Kan.

Earlier in the week, he came through the Gypsum Hills, where a 42-mile scenic byway takes travelers past mesas, deep canyons, sharp high hills, red soils and caprock formations.

“It used to be I was all about wanting to leave Kansas, to get out,” said Younger, who is a volleyball coach at Butler Community College. “But there is more to it than people think.”

That’s the idea at the heart of Bike Across Kansas, which for 39 years has been taking cyclists of all ages and abilities on an approximately 500-mile ride from the state’s western border to eastern border.

According to Stefanie Weaver, executive director, stops are made each night of the eight-day trip in equally-spaced towns along the route.

It takes meticulous planning and support, including several Penske trucks that staff members use to haul the cyclists’ gear from town to town.

Residents in each town also get into the act, arranging weeks in advance for welcoming stations with refreshments, and opening schools so riders can sleep on gym floors or take showers in locker rooms.

In Oswego, chamber President Cindy Dean greeted riders not only with water, but with a detailed, four-page handout that included a list of local civic and youth organizations providing support — from the Oswego High School cheerleaders providing Gatorade and soda to local churches providing evening meals. The city opened the public pool to the cyclists, and planned a concert for them at the Labette County fairgrounds.

“We also included a list of what they can do in our town,” Dean said, “like the golf course, the library, that sort of thing. We really want to make them feel welcome. It’s exciting to have them come through.”

Galena is making similar preparations for today, as it will be the last stop on the route.

Resident Sheryll Vogel said volunteers will welcome cyclists to Pappy Litch Park in the center of town, and will be shutting down Main Street in order to set up 60 tables and chairs. Lunch will be served by Moe’s Southwest Grill from Joplin, and a committee of volunteers is providing all of their beverages.

“We’re excited,” Vogel said. “It’s a way to showcase our town, a way to let people from all over see what’s going on in Galena, to see it’s a destination they can come and enjoy.”

The earliest, fastest cyclists likely will begin arriving in Galena about mid-morning, with the rest of the cyclists continuing to trickle in individually and in small groups through early afternoon.

The cyclists range from the very young, like Weaver’s son, Ashton, 11, of Olathe, Kan., who is riding for the fourth year along with his dad, John Weaver, to the old, like 87-year-old John Bergey, of Hesston, Kan.

“This is the first year for me to do it on my own bike,” Ashton said during his stop in Oswego. “I’m free.”

The youngster said he put in a few weeks of training before the ride, usually about 15 miles each day.

“I’ll definitely keep doing it,” he said. “The best part of it is being able to go to towns and see cool parks and museums, and all the scenic areas.”

For some riders, it’s a family thing. Siblings Kreg Mebust, a 49-year-old teacher from Reno, Nev., and Kevin Mebust, a 52-year-old teacher from Denver, Colo., and Kari Clark, a 48-year-old graphic designer from Olathe, decided to meet at the Kansas-Colorado border and ride it together for the first time.

For Milt Allen, a 52-year-old band director who grew up in Salina and now lives in Columbus, Ohio, the ride was a chance to challenge himself and other band directors. He issued the challenge through his Facebook page to “get up off the couch this summer and do something.”

“To add to the challenge, I did the Deer Creek (Ohio) Triathlon before BAK started, and Saturday I’ll do the Topeka Tinman Triathlon,” Allen said.

One of the trip’s unexpected highlights for him, he said, was directing a few tunes with the Arkansas City Community Band on a stop-over there. Another, he said, was the camaraderie riders develop with one another.

“You all wear Spandex for eight days and you become close,” he laughed. “We’re bonded.”

Younger said several of the cyclists he knows pick different states in which to ride long-distance tours each year.

“But I think I’ll keep riding Kansas,” he said. “It’s an adventure.”

Other stops

Riders also made overnight stops in Sublette, Dodge City, Coldwater, Anthony, Arkansas City and Sedan, and passed through numerous other Kansas towns along the route including Independence, Cherryvale and Columbus. While many of the riders are from Kansas, they also are from 27 other states, as well as Ireland and Honduras.


Text Only
Local News
  • Gov. Nixon signs measure extending Missouri Rx program

    Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation Thursday sponsored by Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, that will extend Missouri’s prescription drug assistance program for another three years.

    July 11, 2014

  • Four State Farm Show gearing for 40th year

    The annual Four State Farm Show, which brings thousands of farmers and ranchers to the area, has grown into a mall of agriculture over the past 40 years.

    July 11, 2014

  • Carver Day activities planned at monument

    Nearly 1,000 people will descend on George Washington Carver National Monument Saturday for the 71st annual Carver Day ceremony.

    July 11, 2014

  • Globe Alerts contest winners announced

    Congratulation to Bill Harvey and Michelle Ramriez!

    They won tickets to see the Cardinals play on Friday, July 18 in St. Louis.

    They won just for being registered to receive text and email Joplin Globe Alerts.

    You can Win too. Just register and wait for our contest announcements.

    July 11, 2014

  • 071114 Mustang1_72.jpg Mustangs roll into Joplin for Mother Road Weekend

    Amanda Massey, of Joplin, gasped when she saw the 1968 fastback Mustang. “This is gorgeous — simply gorgeous,’’ she said. “I have always wanted an old Mustang.’’ With family members in tow, Massey had an opportunity Friday to examine a herd of wild and colorful Mustangs that muscled its way onto Main Street in downtown Joplin for the Mustang Mother Road Weekend.

    July 11, 2014 3 Photos

  • Local libraries target early childhood literacy with state program

    Local libraries are reporting great success so far this summer with the Racing to Read program, an early childhood literacy initiative from the state. The program, established by Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, is designed to help strengthen and expand the quality and availability of library services to address early literacy needs in Missouri.

    July 11, 2014

  • Joplin High School construction ‘fast, furious’ in homestretch

    Will Joplin High School be ready for classes next month? It’s a question that is being asked of Superintendent C.J. Huff almost daily now, and he said Friday that the project is still tracking for an Aug. 25 opening. “I’m over there almost every day, and the transformation is remarkable,” he said.

    July 11, 2014

  • Camper dies from copperhead snake bite in Missouri

    A St. Charles man is dead after being bitten by a copperhead snake while camping with his family in southeast Missouri.

    July 11, 2014

  • Prosecutor reduces charges alleging child endangerment

    The Jasper County prosecutor has reduced child endangerment charges a father was facing in connection with allegedly driving under the influence of sleeping pills with his children in the car and crashing the vehicle into the Toys R Us store in Joplin.

    July 10, 2014

  • Joplin Trails Coalition awaiting word on grant for Ruby Jack

    After the rain cleared Thursday morning, Jim Gant grabbed his boots and bug spray and headed to the Ruby Jack Trail near Oronogo to trim the trees and bushes that line the edges.

    July 10, 2014

Must Read


A study, to be reported on in Sunday’s Globe, recently reviewed the market conditions across the region. Do you think this is a good time to start a business?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter