Bikers battle wind in anniversary ride
By DIANE GASPER-0'BRIEN
It didn't seem to bother Carole Becic that she had to cut short her distance in Saturday's Rope 'em Ride event in Ellis County.
She had come a long way to enjoy this weekend, and not even a blustery Kansas wind was going to get in her way.
Becic was one of 30-some participants who bucked the wind -- for a while anyway -- to participate in the event's 25th anniversary celebration.
"I think 25 years is a great thing," said Becic, who will turn 60 in August.
Becic came the farthest distance, making her 330-mile trip from Bellevue, Neb., to participate in an annual fundraiser for the Hays Area Children's Center.
Brandon Case, 47, Pratt, was the only bicyclist to cover the entire 100-mile course on the cool day that saw riders battling gusts that nearly sat them on their side, especially when riding by the Toulon elevator on Old U.S. Highway 40 east of Hays.
His wife, Kathie, wasn't quite as ambitious, she said with a laugh.
"I hit that wind coming north on (U.S. Highway) 183, and that was a killer," she said. "I came back into town, sat in the sun in Frontier (Park) for a while, then came back" to the children's center.
Brandon Case is an avid bicyclist who participates in Biking Across Kansas and was back for the Rope 'em Ride for the first time in several years.
"We definitely wanted to come back for the 25th," Case said of him and his wife, who used to live in Hays.
Case made sure he recorded some history in the historical event.
He took photos all along the way of the "Cathedral Tour" that included stops at several of the Catholic churches in Ellis County. He ran across a wedding in Victoria at St. Fidelis Catholic Church and a funeral in Munjor at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.
"I'd never been to Schoenchen," he said of St. Anthony Catholic Church. "So that was fun."
Case rode by himself a good share of the route, going as fast as 44 mph heading south to Pfeifer with the wind at his back.
But after a long day of battling the elements, he was eager to get back to his destination, enjoy a spaghetti supper and see how all the other participants fared in the less-than-ideal riding conditions.
"That's what really makes the ride fun," Kathie Case said, "is the people you meet."
"I love the people I ride with, the people who put it on, and the entire crew is great," she said.
Becic, who has ridden in Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska -- is a member of the Blair Bike Club and does a lot of one-day rides.
She heard about Rope 'em Ride in 2010, made the trip from Nebraska, and has been coming back ever since.
Becic and several other riders stayed overnight in the children's center Friday night, and she even stayed a second night Saturday before returning home Sunday.
"That's another thing that makes this ride so unique," Brandon Case said. "You get to stay over two nights if you want, and all the meals and support are included (in the entry fee)."
Doug Greer is retiring as director of the HACC in June but said he would continue helping with the Rope 'em Ride as long as he lives in Hays.
"This is a lot of fun," Greer said as he helped his wife, Becky, clean up the HACC kitchen Saturday night. "Great event, great people."