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: I thought the event was
called Biking Across Kansas--what's with the "BAK" acronym
I see on the web site?
A: It's officially "Biking Across Kansas", but
most everyone calls it "B.A.K." for short. By the way, 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.
Q: How many cyclists participate
A: Biking Across Kansas is limited to approximately 800
riders and support personnel.
Q: What route does BAK take across the
A: BAK is always routed
on paved roads, using secondary state highways and county
where ever possible. BAK makes every attempt to take "the road less
traveled." The route varies from year to year.
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.
would not be able to find several people to ride with at your level
of ability. However, it is important that you prepare yourself
and do several training rides prior to BAK.
Q: Any suggestions for training
A: One suggestion is that you
should be able to do 30 miles in 3 hours or less. Make sure you can ride
50-70 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. In addition, be certain to train on hills and in wind. Yes, Kansas does have hills, and the wind is usually a factor. You'll be able
to put in your miles with other cyclists and learn how to ride safely
within a group.
Q: What if I can't finish the ride?
A: BAK won't leave you stranded if you become injured,
ill, or have mechanical problems and are unable to finish the mileage
on a particular day. There are support
out on the route that can transport you and your bike to the next overnight
stay. SAG transport is reserved only for riders in real need (where health
or safety is at risk or a bicycle has serious mechanical problems). "Getting
tired" is usually not a reason to use a SAG. BAK expects participants to be physically prepared to cover the
If a rider
becomes too ill to finish BAK or their bicycle suffers irreparable
damage, the best course of action is to make arrangements to leave the
home. It's a good idea to have a back-up plan in place in the event you
must leave BAK unexpectedly. BAK support is not
to transport tired, sick, injured or "mechanically-challenged" riders
for multiple days.
Since Kansas is flat, is BAK one of the easier cross-state bike
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 to be sure, but there are also many challenging inclines,
particularly in the eastern third of the state.
Q: Are there any other challenges about riding
A: The wind is usually a factor in Kansas cycling. Hot
June afternoons can be gusty on the Kansas plains. BAK always travels
from West to East to take advantage of the prevailing Southwest winds,
but riders can occasionally expect to face a mild headwind or side wind
at some point during the week.
The weather is generally clear to partly cloudy during
BAK, but an occasional thunderstorm is not uncommon at least once during
the week. Temperatures typically average between 70 and 80 degrees (F),
but some years bring hotter or cooler temperatures. Morning temperatures
area near the Colorado border can be quite chilly, sometimes dipping
down into the 40s
overnight. 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.
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 pm, so
it's a good idea to
by then. Typically, most BAK participants depart each morning between
7:00 and 8:00 am and arrive at the overnight destination between 1:00
3:00 pm. Some arrive sooner, others later. The luggage trucks begin to
unload about 1:00 pm, so some riders try to coordinate their arrival
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 works to ensure that participants
are kept informed of changes in route, road hazards, points-of-interest,
etc. A group meeting is held each evening at 8:00 pm to provide riders
with vital information about the next day's ride and recap interesting
things that happened during today's ride. Each participant receives
a printed route guide at the beginning of the week. The route guide provides
maps, notes about meals and dining options, overnight facilities and
historic features along the route.
Q: Where do BAK participants
A: Participants are responsible for most of their own
meals throughout the week. BAK does provide a couple of breakfasts during
the trip, in addition to the celebration picnic at the finish. 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
through the day. BAK participants should take advantage of both the SAGs
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
could be in dire need by then.
Q: What does the word "SAG"
actually 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."
Q: Where do BAK participants sleep?
A: Arrangements are made with our overnight host cities to
provide facilities for camping, restrooms and showers.Typically, local schools are the overnight accommodations for BAK riders. All participants should come prepared to tent camp; however, most nights there is indoor space (e.g., gymnasium) for about half of the riders. Indoor sleeping space is limited though. Some BAK riders choose
to reserve motel rooms where available.
Q: If indoor sleeping space
is so scarce, will I have to race to get to the next town to get
a spot before they are all gone?
will NOT allow the available indoor space to be claimed
only by the fastest riders who reach the overnight towns first. There
will be a system for registered "Tent/Indoor" participants
that pre-assigns each rider an allotted number of indoor nights.
Under this plan, there will be no incentive for riders to "race" to
the finish in order to stake their claim indoors. Riders will know
in advance which nights they are assigned to stay indoors. At the
locations where adequate space is available, indoor sleeping will
be open to all.
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?
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
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 Kansas City or Wichita. Others are delivered and picked-up with personal vehicles
driven by friends or family. Still others get together to organize a
car-pool. A few even ride their bicycles to the starting point.
Q: What if someone needs to contact me during the week?
A: 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 phone service, although it's not always guaranteed out in rural
Kansas. During the week of BAK call 913-735-3035 to reach the executive director. For non-emergency communication, participants will
need to make their own arrangements (your personal cell phone, for example).
Someone may also want to email the BAK staff at: firstname.lastname@example.org, but this is not intended for
Q: Is there a participant forum at which I can meet and communicate with other BAK riders?
A. Yes, visit Biking Across Kansas’ Facebook event page at www.facebook.com/bikingkansas. This is a great way to get informal information about BAK from previous and current riders.