“Absolutely” there will be a second annual Tour die Kapellen 2020, said Kay Werth on Saturday at the Downtown Hays Pavilion, where the first riders on the first-ever Tour die Kapellen were returning from the morning-long bicycle tour.
One of those arriving was Russell Dorn.
“I’m about six years old,” said Dorn. “This is my first time over here.”
There from South Kansas City, Mo., Dorn rode the route in a trailer pulled by his dad, Michael Dorn, riding his own bicycle.
“It was pretty cool,” said the younger Dorn of the ride, which unfolded under a clear blue sky and mild temperatures.
Awaiting the Dorns and the other 111 riders who registered for the tour was a homemade traditional German meal cooked by a volunteer group from Victoria, led by Brenda Dreiling.
At 11:30 a.m. at the Pavilion, Dreiling was stirring the big pot of schmeltz, a creamy sauce to serve over homemade German dumplings on a plate with German sausage, creamed potatoes, white northern beans and kuchen.
“I have enough for 250 people,” said Dreiling. The cooking team, including Cora Schulte, Jeff and Terry Pfeifer, Dreiling’s husband, Frank, and Mark and Shannon Karst, had been preparing items since Thursday to have the meal ready for the cyclists.
“My granddaughter Macy helped me all day yesterday,” said Dreiling.
The tour was the idea of Werth, Kathy Rome, Ruth Beiler and Steve Rogers, four members who make up the Hays Area Bicyclists. The four riders typically meet at 5:30 a.m. weekdays and weekends to ride the asphalt highways connecting Hays, Victoria, Catharine, Toulon, Munjor, Antonino and Schoenchen. Which direction they go, says Rome, “depends on which way the wind is blowing.” They go out against the wind and return with it to their backs.
Saturday’s tour offered participants a choice of four different routes, one 30 miles, one 50 miles, one 62 miles and one 100 miles, but each one stopping at one or more of the historic German Catholic native limestone churches that Ellis County is famous for.
In the planning stages, the organizers were hoping to get at least 50 riders, so Saturday’s large turnout far exceeded expectations.
Proceeds from registration will go to the Basilica of St. Fidelis in Victoria, where riders Saturday morning were treated to music by the Hays City Band Brass Choir during their stop. Other stops featured musicians from the Hays Symphony Orchestra.
It was natural to combine the ride, the churches, the music and the traditional food, Werth indicated.
“The culture is very rich in this area, the history is very rich in this area, and the health awareness and bicycling culture is very rich in this area,” she said.
Back at the pavilion, as lunch was being served, the popular Victoria band Tim Anthony and the Animals played until 2 p.m.
Werth, herself an oboe player and a member of the publicity committee for the Hays Symphony Orchestra, said the proceeds to St. Fidelis will probably be anywhere from $2,500 to $4,000 for the church. The plan now, she said, is that each year the money will go to a different one of the churches on the ride, she said.
With lunchtime approaching, a group of cyclists on the extended shorter Fun Ride were wrapping up at Munjor’s St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and preparing to ride back to Hays.
“Remember going back those railroad tracks, you’ll want to walk over them,” said Kathy Rome, set to lead the group back over the hilly ribbon of pavement marked 280th Road.
Macy Ziegler, Overland Park, and Piper Peterson, Lenexa, mentioned the colorful wrist bands they were wearing would each get them a couple beverages from Defiance Brewery and Gella’s Diner in Hays.
It was the first such ride for Ziegler.
“I’ve never biked more than four miles, but today I’ve already gone 12 miles so far,” Ziegler said. “It’s been good, not as bad as I expected.”
“She knocked it out of the park today,” said Michelle Eaton, Olathe, who along with others in the eastern Kansas group came at Werth’s urging.
Passing the time on the ride out, the riders picked names for each other.
“She’s Flyer Girl,” said Peterson, pointing to Ziegler. “And she’s Baby Ruth,” she said of Addison Ruder, Lenexa. “And I’m Roxie,” Peterson laughed. “We were thinking of biker chick names.”
Now, she said, “I’m hoping it’s downhill all the way back.” So far, “the little heart cookies were a highlight for me.”
“Have a Heart” owner Jeanne Reidel baked the traditional German heart cookies, hatzia, to get the riders started on their way Saturday morning.
Back at the pavilion, Sara Bloom, director of the Downtown Hays Development Corporation, explained that Riedel made the cookies for breakfast and served them with coffee.
“She sells these at the downtown market on Saturdays, she’s wonderful,” Bloom said. “She actually made them for our party for Biking Across Kansas and everyone loved them so much we asked her to make them for this.”
Wrapping up their ride together, Michael Dorn and his son, Russell, were preparing to eat the German lunch, then had plans to head back to eastern Kansas.
“We’re going to go bike shopping now,” said Michael, “so this might be one of his last trailer rides.”