Big Bicycle Across Missouri (Big BAM) rode through Waynesville on their fourth day to enjoy a rest day full of food, music and relaxation. The riders started arriving around 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 20. This is the first time Waynesville has been hosted as Big BAM stop. Bicyclists gathered into Waynesville City Park to rest for the day and departed in the morning.
Mayor Luge Hardman said a lot of planning went into the event after they were selected by Big BAM to serve as a stop for bicyclist. “Something that involves this many people is always a logistic ‘adventure.’ People might say it’s a logistic nightmare, but I’m going to call it an adventure,” Mayor Hardman said.
Mayor Hardman said planning the event started months before the arrival date. “We started planning this late last year,” Mayor Hardman said. Hardman said a committee was formed to help organize and coordinate the first event. “When we knew we were going to be a stop, we began to put together a committee,” Hardman continued.
Challenges were faced by all riders from the rolling hills of the Ozarks to the mugginess and heat of Missouri, but some riders, like 55-year-old David Thurneysen from San Antonio, TX, welcome the challenges. “There are a lot of hills. I enjoy the hills but day after day, it begins to be a lot. I’m one of the riders that started in Oklahoma,” Thurneysen said.
“We did the Oklahoma Freewheel. We started on the Texas border and rode across Oklahoma. We met up with Big BAM in Joplin. So, this is week two for me… Last year, I did Wisconsin and I met up with some people and we shared an email list. We sort of voted on rides that looked interesting this year and the Route 66 link up with two rides was the number one choice,” Thurneysen said.
47-year old Jennifer Neill from Fayetteville, AR said her experiences on Big BAM has been enjoyable. “It’s been really enjoyable. The first day’s heat, that’s about it,” Neill said, who had completed similar journeys in other states alongside her partner. “We rode Freewheel last year,” Neill said. “We try to do a state a year. We read good things about BAM and here we are,” Neill said.
Others like 21-year-old first timer Jimmy Foster from West Plains, MO, an engineer said staying hydrated is the biggest challenge. “I learned my lesson a couple of days ago,” Foster said. “The thing that got me most, when I got done with the ride, I was so dehydrated that I knew I had to eat, but I didn’t want to. I wasn’t hungry… I’d say that’s the biggest challenge for me.”
Foster also jokingly said he wanted a cheap way for a week-long vacation. “I didn’t really hope to get anything out of it. All I was going for was the cheapest vacation I can find about a week long,” Foster said.
Mayor Hardman said she is hopeful Big BAM considers Waynesville to serve as a layover stop for next year’s route. “It just depends on the route. They choose different routes. I wouldn’t expect for them to come back to Route 66 this soon, but we would obviously welcome them. What’s great for us is getting the word out about Waynesville,” Hardman said. “We’re thrilled to have them here.”