Cyclist to tour through area cities
25th annual ride includes route through Tonganoxie
Motorists are asked to share the road this weekend as about 100 bicyclists make their way through seven area cities, including Tonganoxie.
The Leavenworth Bicycle Club will kick off the 25th Annual Buffalo Bill Century Ride at 8 a.m. Sunday in downtown Leavenworth. Deemed the "Tour of the Seven Cities," riders will have five different routes to choose from that wind through the downtowns of Leavenworth, Lansing, Basehor, De Soto, Eudora, Tonganoxie and Easton.
Ride coordinator Baron Powell said cyclists will be pleased with the variety of scenery and smoother terrain of the southern portion of Leavenworth County.
"We change routes periodically, but this year we're doing something totally different," he said. "We had a rather fearsome reputation in this area because it is so hilly, especially in the northern region. We said, 'Why not give the riders a break and smooth the course out a bit? It's also an opportunity to showcase some of the towns in Leavenworth County.'"
Powell said the event is not a race, but simply a ride for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy. The shortest loop, about 8 miles, is something the beginners will enjoy, he said, while the most advanced riders may choose to take on the full 101-mile century loop. Most riders, however, will choose one of the middle of the road routes, which include 33 miles, 59 miles and 81 miles.
"When you do the 101-mile loop, you truly get a sense of what Leavenworth County is all about," Powell said.
One of the reasons the ride always takes place on the fourth Sunday in September is because traffic is typically less on Sundays than any other day of the week, Powell said. While cyclists will be encouraged to be safe, courteous and obey all traffic regulations, motorists will also be asked to be aware of the riders passing through their towns and drive safely.
"We would ask cars to be patient, give cyclists as much room as they can and don't pass unless the way is clear," Powell said. "It's very easy to coexist and nobody should be in such a hurry that unsafe things are done."
About 100 riders are expected to show for the rain or shine event, Powell said, but maybe a few more if the weather is nice and perhaps less if it is not so nice. However, the Leavenworth Bicycle Club is working on distinguishing the Buffalo Bill Century Ride from other rides to try to attract more people and this year's tour through the different downtowns could prove to be that "wow" factor they're looking for, Powell said. While the riders will not be stopping in the cities for long, he said, if they see something they like while they're riding through, they may choose to come back and visit, especially if the riders felt as though the communities embraced them. If the participants think kindly of the communities and enjoy the ride this year, they will be more likely to come back next year and bring their friends, Powell said.
"We want to turn this into a major event that people mark on their calendars," he said. "We have a beautiful county and there are fascinating towns to go through. We don't see any reason at all why this ride couldn't attract more than 1,000 riders in the future."
While the pre-registration deadline has already passed, those interested in participating in the Buffalo Bill Century Ride can still join by registering between 7 and 8 a.m. on the day of the ride at the pavilion across from the C.W. Parker Carousel Museum at Esplanade and Cherokee streets in Leavenworth. A $30 fee will be charged unless riders choose the short loop, which will be $15. The first 200 registered will receive a free t-shirt. For more information, visit the organization's Web site at leavenworthbicycleclub.com.
"This year is just the first step in what we hope will be a big event in the next few years," Powell said. "We hope everything goes smoothly and we appreciate the support from the communities."