A cycling season marked by increased awareness, newfound prominence and profound sadness will close this fall with a ride aiming for participatory largess.
The Lawrence Bicycle Club will conduct its 40th annual Octoginta on Oct. 3 and 4 in Douglas County. Organizers are hoping that the event — which includes a 6.2-mile time trial, 30-mile Tour de County and three ride options Sunday — could attract more than 2,000 riders, or double its planned capacity.
While 2008 Octoginta drew about 800 participants, organizers this year are hoping to build on cycling’s momentum in the area with an event that draws from an expanding base.
“I think there is a growing culture for cycling, and it’s been strong in Lawrence for a very long time,” said Lee Merrill, president of the bicycle club. “There’s some big hopes for Octoginta.”
This year’s main event will add a “century loop” — that’s a 100-mile course — to its traditional 80-mile ride, with shorter options. The goal is to provide more variety for riders who may be interested in stretching their limits, Merrill said, and for drawing participants who prefer a longer ride.
Entertainment will include the 5 Star Jazz Band, of North Kansas City, performing in the William Kelly Bandstand at South Park.
Cycling awareness continues to pick up speed in the area, Merrill said. Earlier this month the first Tour de Lawrence drew competitors from throughout the region, and brought about 175 kids to downtown Lawrence for bike races of their own.
Not all the news is upbeat. Bob Frederick, an avid cyclist and former Kansas University athletics director, originally had agreed to serve as ride director for the upcoming Octoginta, an event he’d ridden in many times.
Frederick died June 12, after a bicycle accident at Sixth Street and Kasold Drive.
This year’s 80-mile trek will take riders through southern Douglas County, to Pomona Lake in Franklin County and then back into Lawrence — a route Frederick himself had chosen.
“We’re following through on what he wanted to do,” said Craig Weinaug, last year’s ride director.
For more information about the club, and to check in for event updates, visit www.lbc-cycling.com.