Gerry Ibay (at left) of Edmond, Okla., helped his sister-in-law, Linda Bean of Girard (at right), put up a tent on the Holton High School front lawn after they arrived in Holton on Friday with a group of more than 700 bicyclists taking part in the 50th-annual Biking Across Kansas trip across the state. Friday’s BAK stop in Holton marked the fifth time in the event’s history that the city served as the cross-state trip’s final overnight stop. (Photo by Brian Sanders)

Biking Across Kansas rolls into Holton for fifth time

Tiffany Hazen of Ottawa said most of the riders on the 50th-annual Biking Across Kansas tour of the state that led cyclists through Soldier and into Holton on Friday may not have been prepared for that big hill on Kansas Highway 62 just before its intersection with Kansas Highway 16 south of Soldier.

“Everybody said those prior hills were just a warm-up,” said Hazen, riding in her first BAK with her husband Joe and other friends from Ottawa. “They gave us a harder hill. But we’re able to say we made it up those Soldier hills.”

Some pedaled their way up the hill, while for others, the hill was too much to handle, and they got off their bikes and walked them up the hill before remounting for the 12-mile ride into Holton from the K-16/K-62 intersection.

But once they arrived in Holton — some getting here before noon, others taking their time and arriving in late afternoon — they found a welcoming community that was ready to cheer them on as they pedaled up Wisconsin Avenue toward Holton High School, where the more than 700 riders participating in this year’s BAK holed up for the evening, either in tents on the HHS lawn or inside the school’s gym.

“We’ve been here before, and we always get a wonderful welcome,” said Carolyn Patterson of Hutchinson, who, at the ripe young age of 80, has participated in 32 BAK tours of the state as she enjoyed a Friday evening dinner on Holton’s Town Square with husband Mike — at 81 years old, a 35-time BAK participant — and son Evan, taking part in his 10th BAK.

Charleen Mankameyer of Shawnee, taking part in her 18th BAK, also enjoyed the reception that she and husband Rick, on his eighth BAK tour, received as they rode into town.

Others, like Chris and Dana Stehno of Denver, Colo., riding a tandem recumbent bicycle in their second BAK, were just happy that the trip wasn’t anywhere near as hot and humid as their first BAK in 2022, which Chris said was “miserably hot.”

“It’s been lovely,” Dana said. “We didn’t have the humidity we had back in 2022.”

BAK riders and support staff came down to the Square for a party on the final overnight stop of this year’s event, enjoying a variety of foods and live music from the bands EZ Pieces and Under Cover, taking time in between bands for a rousing chorus of the Kansas state song, “Home On The Range.”

It was the fifth such stop in Holton on the BAK tour, which began in 1975 with fewer than 100 riders and grew to more than 700 participants in this year’s event. Holton also served as the event’s final overnight stop in 1981, 1997, 2002 and 2019 — and as BAK executive director Bryan Toben noted earlier this year, Holton “just absolutely knocked it out of the park in 2019,” prompting a return on this year’s schedule.

Toben said Monday that with the reception that riders on this year’s tour received, it’s likely that Holton could be included in future tours.

For more on this and other stories, please log in to your account and select “June 19, 2024” under “E-Editions.”

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141


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