Rhonda Kane, RN, and her daughter Mallory will be among the pack of more than 480 bicycle riders beginning the 539-mile trek called Bicycling Across Kansas (BAK) starting June 10 from the Colorado border to the Missouri border near Pleasanton.
These cyclists, and hundreds more supporters and vehicles, will pass through the CHC/SEK clinic communities of Iola, Garnett, and Pleasanton on June 16 and 17. CHC/SEK is helping support the ride and produced custom water bottles for distribution.
In her 30’s, Rhonda, who works in the Pittsburg North Walk-In clinic, had taken up cycling as an alternative to running after an earlier knee injury. She had ridden the MS-150 (miles) for multiple sclerosis several times and ridden a “Century,” along with more casual riding. Then, her life got busy and cycling was relegated to the “back burner.”
Fast forward to 2022, and there was a perfect storm. “Everything that could go wrong went wrong,” she said. “By the time we got to January, I was pretty much at the pits when my 33-year-old daughter said she was going to do Bicycling Across Kansas (BAK) … and I said I always wanted to do that. And she goes, well, you’re not dead, so let’s do it!
“I did not register for the ride until I bought a spin bike. And honestly, in January, I went 15 minutes, and I thought I am not signing on any dotted line until I could see if I could do this! So, a couple weeks later, I went ahead and got registered, and then I bought a bike.”
Then began the training, with hours and hours on a bike. “I went to the orthopedic doctor before I started,” she said. “I thought maybe I’d go ahead and get a cortisone shot in my knee. They did an X-ray, and the doctor walked into the room, and he had this big smile on his face, and I said, ‘You’re laughing, aren’t you?’ And he goes, ‘No, I think this is awesome!’ He was a cyclist and encouraged me to use shoe clips, which attach you to the bicycle. He said they would be more effective and efficient with my knee and won’t tire it out as bad.”
The official BAK trip planner recommends daily training rides, including longer ones from 40 to 70 miles. They recommend cyclists, at minimum, be able to bicycle 30 miles in 3 hours or less. (On the day we interviewed Rhonda, she had put in a 64-mile training ride)
Rhonda says a texting group has helped keep her motivated during training. “There’s four of us. My daughter and then her best friend and her friend. And so, the training conversations in our group text have been hilarious.”
Rhonda confided some of her doubts to a cousin, who suggested she should write a blog about preparing for the ride. “I was telling her all my reservations and everything and she said why don’t you start blogging about it? It’s on Facebook,” she said. “And so, for the last 10 weeks I’ve posted about how it’s going and tried to be honest and vulnerable and share the triumphs and share the doubts.”
Often, her husband tags along for training support by car or on a powered e-bike. “You know, that’s been the biggest challenge is finding places I can train and get in miles where I feel comfortable, and that can be challenging when you live where I live in Erie,” Rhonda said. “BAK has an official training schedule which is awesome. It gives you a guide to know how to go about it. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been following the schedule. I’m really thankful my daughter said you’re not dead, and just get going.”
BAK is the second longest-running statewide bicycle tour in the U.S., starting in 1975, and each year attracts riders from ages six to 80 plus years old.