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Saturday, the sixth annual Lunar Kanza will brighten up the night.

According to Dirty Kanza Event Director LeLan Dains, the event will draw about 500 riders. About half of these participants travel from out-of-state for the yearly event, he said.

The Lunar Kanza is much different from the Dirty Kanza, which happened back in early June. Saturday’s event is a much more relaxed one. It’s a 50-mile bike ride in which participants shouldn’t feel pressured to complete.

“It is not timed — it’s a fun ride — so folks can actually turn around wherever they want,” Dains said. “There’s a turnaround in Americus, or if they go the full distance, it’s about 50 miles.”

It will be less formal and hopefully a great deal cooler than the big race in June.

“The Flint Hills at night are beautiful, and it offers a nice contrast to riding during the day,” Dains said. “Also, what better time to ride in July than at night?”

Even those who don’t ride gravel — or who prefer not to ride it at night, no matter how clear the sky or how bright the moon — can find something fun to do during the event.

Back in Emporia, there will be a free block party which everyone in the community is invited to attend. Mulready’s Pub will operate a beer garden during the event. According to Dains, there will be live music provided by the DeWayn Brothers. Food and drink sold from food trucks will be available. The party starts at 6 p.m. and runs until midnight Saturday in the vicinity of 716 Commercial St. and surrounding the finish line, which will be on the 700 block of Mechanic Street.

He looks forward to the event.

“With Lunar Kanza not being a timed race, it allows us to do some little, more fun activities,” Dains said. “For example, our scavenger hunt.”

The scavenger hunt will include both riders and members of the general public. There will be tokens littered throughout the course and around the block party.

“Both community members and participants can find these tokens and bring them back and get prizes redeemed for them,” Dains said. “So that’s a lot of fun.”

The race starts at 6 p.m., with participants invited to check in from noon until then the day of the event. Participants can also check in early from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Friday. Check in takes place at Gravel City Adventure and Supply Co., at 716 Commercial.

Everyone is invited to stay out past their bedtime and take in the moonlight.

“I encourage folks to bring a lawn chair and come on down and join us,” Dains said.

Check out dirtykanza.com/lunar-kanza/ for more information or to register online for the bike ride.

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