Cyclists competing in the 3,000-mile Race Across America have been pedalling through Jefferson City the past few days.
Solo riders and relay teams left Oceanside, California, on Saturday and are to ride across 12 states to Annapolis, Maryland.
The racers are professionals and amateurs. The race is about 30 percent longer than the Tour de France, and cyclists must complete the distance in roughly half the time, with no rest days. Team racers have a maximum of nine days, but most finish in about 7 and a half with the fastest in just more than five days. Solo racers have a maximum of 12 days to complete the race, most finishing in 11 days with the fastest finishing in under eight days.
Solos and teams have support crews following alongside to supply food, fluids, navigation, medical care and bike repair.
Race officials said every year there are racers from at least 20 countries. More than 35 countries, from six continents, have been represented throughout the 35-year history of the race.
For some, it's about raising money for charity, the thrill of adventure or simply finishing what is called the World's Toughest Endurance Race.
Coming into Wednesday morning, the NF Team out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was in second place in the four-person team race. The team checked in at the Conoco Station on Jefferson Street.
Steve Kendra heads the team of four riders and 12 crew members. For this race, he is serving as crew chief. He said it probably was more stressful to be working on the support staff than out on the road racing, something he has done four times.
NF stands for neurofibromatosis, a genetic disease which affects one in 3,000 people in the United States. It can cause blindness, deafness and learning disabilities. Kendra's daughter suffered with the disease, but has recovered and just completed her master's degree in art therapy to help the young and old who are dealing with this disease.
Kendra said they came into Missouri from the south. To get through Mid-Missouri, the team went north on U.S. 54 and then east on Missouri 94 headed toward St. Louis.
"There's one rider out on the road all the time," he said. "We are to be in Annapolis on Friday, and this year, we've had great weather to help us. A couple of years ago, the pavement temperature when we went through Arizona was 140; this year, 90 degrees and that helps."
On a related note, this week is also the 18th annual Katy Trail Bike Ride. Riders started Sunday in St. Charles and stayed overnight Tuesday in Jefferson City. They left the Capital City on Wednesday morning with the ride finishing Friday in Clinton.
Officials with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources said approximately 300 bicyclists are riding the 232-mile trail. This year's participants range in age from 8-89 coming from 29 states and one Canadian Province.
Hosted by Missouri State Parks and the Missouri State Parks Foundation, the five-day Katy Trail Ride has been an annual event since 2001.
Photographs and highlights of each day's ride will be available at Facebook.com/katytrailstatepark.