BAK home, Goessel style

900 riders on the Bicycling Across Kansas tour make a one-night stand in Goessel

The line of BAK riders stretched over miles and hours, but this group appeared pleased by their early arrival.

Nine hundred bicyclists with Biking Across Kansas rolled into Goessel Wednes?day, June 10. BAK is an annual event occurring the first full week of June.

This year they started in Johnson City and completed their ride at Louisburg. This was the first time the route came and made an overnight stop in Goessel.

The cyclists were riding in from Sterling that day, with many completing the 54 miles long before noon. The cyclists found the town ready for them.

Captain Kurt Von Goessel (aka Brian Stucky) greeted hundreds of guests throughout the day reciting the town?s history and Captain von Goessel?s significance.

At the fire station the junior high youth had walking tacos and Keith?s Grocery store had grilled sausage burgers. Elsewhere through town, bicyclists found homemade ice cream, funnel cakes, frozen fruit cups, lemonade and, of course, the Branding Iron was serving burgers and fries for them.

The museum was open early and many cyclist took time to tour it and learn about the early immigrants to the community.

Bikers with tents set up camp on the GHS football field while others found indoor comfort in the air-conditioned gym.

For supper, the area Mennonite churches provided grilled chicken, homemade salads and homemade pie and ice cream. The Mennonite Heritage and Agricultural Museum provided a potato bar, bierrocks and cherry moos.

That evening two bands played for the visitors, The Book of JEBB and the Flannelbacks. The visitors also had the privilege to have a special guest drop by, Captain Kurt Von Goessel (aka Brian Stucky) dressed in his ship?s captain outfit, telling the story of Goessel?s founding.

Jenny Fast, daughter-in-law Kelli Fast and sister-in-law Elizabeth Beels (from left) fill the pie table for hungry bikers arriving Wednesday afternoon.

About 500 of the bicyclists slept on the gym floors and the remainder camped in tents on green spaces around the high school.

The next morning, breakfast was served by our high school clubs starting at 5:30. By 7:30 nearly all of the bicyclists had pulled out of town, beginning their 75-mile ride to Council Grove Thursday morning.

The breakfast sandwich team, (from left) Barb Banman, lead GHS cook; GES cook Sandra Duerksen; teacher and coach Curtis Guhr, and teacher and coach Zana Manche, prepare to feed the morning masses.Many of the bicyclists expressed appreciation for the hospitality they experienced in Goessel. The Biking Across Kansas group was invited by Mayor Dave Schrag, pastor Linda Ewert, and Superintendent John Fast. A committee of about 20 community members planned all the food and events while they were in town.

John Fast, superintendent of schools in Goessel, has participated in nine Bicycling Across Kansas tours. After his work as a coordinator was complete Thursday morning, he rode with the group to the Missouri border.

by John Fast

Special to the Free Press

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