Eudora man pedals his way across Kansas
Stan Burnham of Eudora loves to discover different parts of the Sunflower State, but the 47-year-old Sprint employee also loves to ride his bicycle with friends.
Fortunately for Burnham, last week he was able to go on his fourth Bike Across Kansas trip and his first BAK ride since 1998. The weeklong excursion toured across the southern part of the state from the Colorado border to the Missouri line, beginning in Syracuse and concluding in the Galena/Baxter Springs area. About 1,000 cyclists of all ages rode 50 to 80 miles per day throughout small Kansas towns, sleeping in high school or junior college gymnasiums along the way.
"The general reason that I go on the trip is to have a lot of fun," Burnham said. " I like riding with people I know and it's the only time of the year that I get to see some of them."
Burnham and the other riders explored the Kansas countryside and were well received by local civic groups, high school associations and the Future Farmers of America when they arrived in a small town.
He also got the chance to visit museums and historical sites along the way such as Coffeyville's Dalton Museum and Fort Larned.
"Probably the reason I took this southern route is because it went through the Gypsum Hills," Burnham said. "There is a beauty of the side roads. You get to see parts of Kansas that you wouldn't see in a car."
As a native of the small Western Kansas town of St. Francis the BAK trip was Burnham's first trip to the Gypsum Hills. . He enjoyed seeing the spring flowers of the region but was startled to see some other lifeforms there.
"I didn't know they had tarantulas in southern Kansas," Burnham said. "I thought I remembered that there were armadillos there. A lot of the time, we were only three miles from the Oklahoma border."
Burnham said the Bike Across Kansas trip motivated him to exercise and ride more than he has recently.
"I need exercise and I don't always have the motivation to ride. It is easier when you have 200 to 300 miles under your belt," Burnham said.
With the 2001 BAK ride behind him, Burnham's attention has shifted toward either the 2002 ride or another state's route.
"You've got to go out there and have fun and stop when it is not fun anymore," Burnham said. "I plan on doing BAK next year, but it depends on what my friends decide to do. I may go up to Iowa's ride but I will continue to ride somewhere."