An expedition of two-wheelers will head west this summer, retracing the path cut in the Great Plains 150 years ago by covered wagons traveling the Oregon Trail.
Lawrence will be the first stop for a group of bicyclists who plan to travel 2,100 miles from Independence, Mo., to Oregon City, Ore., in five weeks.
The Sesquicentennial Bicycle Migration of the Oregon Trail will depart from Independence on Memorial Day and spend its first night in Lawrence, trip organizer Tom Armstrong said.
"We're going to let all the riders go off on their own, and since Lawrence is a good-sized community with lots of restaurants, we'll turn everyone loose on the town," said Armstrong, who lives in Lincoln, Neb.
The bicyclists will camp in Burcham Park overnight before heading west, following the Oregon Trail "as close as we can get to it and be on paved roads," he said. "We'll cross over the trail many times and see all the historic sites."
Although some Lawrence residents have submitted preliminary applications, none is among the 25 who have registered so far, he said.
Sunflower Bike Shop on Massachusetts Street has volunteer technical support for the cyclists, employee Dan Hughes said.
"It sounds like a neat idea," he said. "A lot of bike trips are being organized, but this one seems novel. Most of the successful ones are."
Armstrong said he got the idea for an Oregon Trail bicycle trek as he was cycling cross-country about 1 years ago.
"I was out in Oregon, bicycling home, and crossing over the Oregon Trail a number of times," he said. "When I came to the actual ruts of the trail, it astounded me, because they were still so visible. Here I was, on my bicycle, my possessions packed on it, and I got down in the ruts and felt a kinship."
Armstrong said he learned after he started planning the trip that this year was the trail's 150th anniversary.
"I decided it should be done bigger and more organized," he said. "From there it grew into where it's at right now. It's become a full-time job."
The cyclists will be in Hastings, Neb., for the Cottownwood Prairie Festival the weekend of June 4, and Guernsey, Wyo., will entertain them with cowpoke poetry and folk musicians on June 11. They are scheduled to arrive in Boise, Idaho, in time for the Boise River Festival on June 25, he said.
Armstrong said he expects about 75 people to sign up for the bike trek. Further information may be obtained by calling Armstrong at (402)477-9968.