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'Quiet' signs greet latest Cassoday bike rally

CASSODAY _ The unwritten message of the neon yellow "Quiet Zone" signs sprinkled around town Sunday was: enough with the vroom, vroom, vroom already.

The signs served as a reminder to the motorcyclists who ride here the first Sunday of each month that residents like the peace and quiet of their tiny Flint Hills town.

They grew out of recent complaints about the Cassoday Bike Run as it has grown from just more than a dozen riders to as many as 7,000. Complaints about noise, congestion and respect for private property led to a petition presented at a recent Cassoday City Council meeting where more than 100 people had their say. A second meeting is scheduled for Aug. 9.

The ruckus caused quite a stir.

On Sunday, about 6,000 riders came to town for breakfast and camaraderie and to show their support for the rally. They were greeted with new welcome, "Quiet Zone" and parking signs.

Vendors sold everything from T-shirts and bandannas to heaping plates of eggs and sausage and cups of flavored shaved ice that melted quickly in the summer heat. The streets bustled with Harley Davidsons, Ducatis, Hondas and custom-built bikes.

Brett Nelson, who started the petition to end the rally, said "it looked a lot better" Sunday. "I think we're going to get through this."

He said he walked around and invited riders to talk to him.

Randy Wells, a board member of the Cassoday Bike Run, said he also thought riders and residents would work out their differences.

"I think the signs made a difference," he said. "The pastor's wife came over and thanked us."

City Council member Joy Nelson said she walked around the rally Sunday and thought the signs did help, especially in getting bikes off the highway and roads and into parking areas. But, she said, "it's going to be an ongoing thing to keep a handle on" noise and congestion.

In the past, she said, bikes have been "lined up at least three deep down Main Street, at least two deep down Kansas Street and parked on both sides of the highway."

Some riders parked on private property, blocking driveways, she said, and conveyed an attitude of "we own this place."

She called that "uncalled for."

Wells said riders are respectful.

"I think most of the people in Cassoday really enjoy it," he said of the rally.

Harold Roberts, who lives a mile east of Cassoday and owns several buildings there, said concerns were "blown totally out proportion" by a minority.

Roberts rents out space to vendors for the monthly rally but doesn't ride himself.

"I'm 90 years old," he said. "I'm going to stay on the ground."

There's no way the rallies will end, he said.

"They're not going to stop it," he said. "It'll all work out."

Gene Shannon, who said he's been coming to the rallies since they started in 1991, also was optimistic.

"It's so big, I don't think you could stop it," he said.

Nelson said council members won't vote on the future of the rally Aug. 9 but will take more public comment about it and get feedback from residents about whether the signs are helping. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at Cassoday's community building.

The rally has its own page on Facebook, Cassoday Bike Run, with 1,168 fans on Sunday afternoon.

Attendance varies with the weather. Last month, only about 25 people showed up, Shannon said, because of rain.

Shannon sat under a canopy tent with other members of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association.

"The thing about this is everyone here has one thing in common: They like to ride," said El Dorado resident Gary Van Buskirk.

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