Hundreds of bicyclists will be gathering in Beatrice this weekend for the annual Nebraska United Methodist bike ride.
The ride is a multi-day, 275-mile trip that draws nearly 200 riders from across the United States and Canada.
Rev. Charles Spence, of the Centenary United Methodist Church, said the event will be an asset to the area.
“I am thrilled to have them coming here to begin this trip,” Spence said. “This is a rather historic ride in that our three conferences, Kansas East, Kansas West and Nebraska all become one conference. To have this beginning in Beatrice is just fantastic.”
The event starts Saturday in Beatrice with an optional pre-ride, looping 40 miles before the main event takes off for northeastern Kansas the next day.
On June 27, riders will return to Beatrice.
Event director Bill Ritter said the ride is a fundraiser to benefit world hunger, and has raised more than $500,000 for four organizations.
“NUMB is a ride that was started 17 years ago when me and a friend were discussing the concept I had for a ride that would benefit and raise awareness of hunger,” Ritter explained. “We designed this ride asking people to bring in pledges that we divide up.”
Ritter said riders from as far as Canada, Alaska and Hawaii have signed up for this year’s event.
Although capped at 200 entries, the ride has had some dropouts, which makes room for others.
Those interested in registering can find more information at www.numbride.org.
Ritter said churches will help make camping arrangements on the trip, which has riders from 15 to 70 years of age participaing.
Stops on the ride include Auburn, Sabetha, Kan., and Marysville, Kan., before returning to Beatrice.
Ritter said riders rack up miles on the trip because scenic routes were selected.
“We don’t take the direct route,” Ritter said. “Even though it’s quite close from Beatrice to Auburn, it takes us 70 miles to get there. We don’t go as the crow flies because we want to go so many miles a day. It ends up being a fun challenge.”