What used to be a small group of cyclists getting together for one last ride of the season capped off with a couple of beers at the South Park gazebo has turned into a three-day event with hundreds of riders coming from all over the Midwest.
This weekend the Lawrence Bicycle Club’s Octoginta returns for its 41st ride.
The event, which is not a race, takes cyclists on a 80-mile journey through northeast Kansas, treating riders to breakfast and lunch along the way. A 40-mile ride is also offered.
For many Douglas County cyclists, the ride has turned into an end-of-season tradition.
“It’s a great way to stay in shape, a great incentive to get out on a bike and get some fitness rides in,” said this year’s Octoginta organizer Randy Breeden.
With nice weather in the forecast, Breeden anticipates around 600 to 700 riders.
This year, organizers have mapped out a new course that will head east toward De Soto and then turn south with the return route going through Vinland.
Drivers might want to avoid the roads at the start of the ride between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. Police will escort the large group of cyclists north on Massachusetts Street, across the Kansas River to U.S. Highway 24-40 and then east.
“It might cause a little bit of a delay for some motorists,” Breeden said.
Once the riders reach Kansas Highway 32, the pack should start thinning out, making it easier for drivers to navigate around them.
Sunday’s 80-mile ride is just one in a series of cycling events this weekend. A individual time trial race, 30-mile ride and swamp meet also will be held.
In an event brand new to Octoginta, the Women’s Free State Racing Team will host a roller racing fundraiser at Replay Lounge. There, two cyclists will compete in 30- to 45-second sprint races on stationary bikes.
“It is like a cage fight on a bike, but with no physical contact,” said Michelle Jensen, who is the team director for Women’s Free State Racing.
Schedule of events
Here’s a look at Octoginta events this weekend.
Replay Lounge, 946 Mass., will host roller races. The event has two people at a time competing in 30- to 45-second sprint races on stationary bikes.
7 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.
Registration for individual time trial races on a 6.2-mile course. Parking and registration is at the Kansas Department of Transportation materials lot at the intersection of East 1750 and North 1400 roads, which is the intersection of old Kansas Highway 10 and Noria Road east of Lawrence.
A 30-mile Tour de County ride starts at the South Park Recreation Center. The ride costs $5 and will have a support station at the halfway point.
A swap meet will be at the South Park Recreation Center. Cyclists can bring bike items they want to sell or swap.
The 80- and 40-mile Octoginta begins at South Park. The ride will be patrolled by Douglas County deputy sheriffs. At the 10-mile mark, Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop will provide breakfast. Lunch will be served at the midpoint near Vinland. Costs for riders is $35, and they must register before the start of the race.