A Unique Tradition: Cycling from Tlalnepantla, Mexico, to Wichita
A special tradition exists between Wichita and Tlalnepantla de Baz (better known as Tlalnepantla), located 1,600 miles away just north of Mexico City.
The bond between these two cities started in 1974 when they became sister cities. They lend each other a helping hand when needed. Years ago, Wichita donated medical equipment, medication and two firetrucks to Tlalnepantla after a huge gas explosion left it devastated. Tlalnepantla even has a Plaza named "Wichita" and a smaller replica of our own Keeper of the Plains sits in it.
How the Bike Ride Started
In 2003, Ruben Mendoza Ayala, then Mayor of Tlalnepantla, and a select group of athletes came up with the idea of riding their bicycles from Tlalnepantla to Wichita to celebrate 30 years of sisterhood between the cities. Luis Enrique Figueroa and Arturo Yañez gathered all the information required to perform the epic journey: 2,628 Kilometers in just 13 days!
They presented their findings along with a budget to the mayor of Tlalnepantla. It was well received and fully supported. Luis Enrique and Arturo, along with other athletes learned about the sisterhood between Tlalnepantla and Wichita and were moved by the strong ties between them.
In 2017, they arrived just in time to participate in the Riverfest Parade. A group of seven cyclists, including Don Raul who is 83 years old and Luna, a 10-year-old girl, came to Wichita last year. When these cyclists come, the mayor greets them and Wichita opens its arms to them. The cyclists get to explore those magic spaces that only Wichita has.
This Year's Ride
This year will be their 11th time riding to Wichita. One of their dreams is to cross the United States to get to Canada, but Wichita will always mean sisterhood for them.
They have been preparing physically and mentally to come back this year and be a part of Wichita's Riverfest parade again.
The plan is to leave Tlalnepantla on May 19 and arrive in Wichita on May 31. Some community members and other local bicyclists like to meet them in Mulvane and then ride with them to Wichita.
Sedgwick County Sheriff and Wichita Police officers also escort them from Mulvane to Wichita. They support them by carrying their equipment and luggage and allow them to rest in a car they bring along. It is a piece of history between the sister cities, full of gestures that represent adventure, respect, strength and love. These cyclists travel without air conditioning or luxury, but when they get to Wichita, their energy and attitudes are incredible.
The Bond Between the Cities
Gabriel Yankey, President of Wichita Area Sister Cities said, "This is the most visible and tangible evidence of the strong bond that exists between our two beautiful cities. These people ride more than 2,500 km on bicycles through rain, heat, hunger, mechanical malfunction, dehydration and conditions fraught with peril and dangerous terrain to join our city. Traveling through several towns and villages in Mexico and across the border, and through Texas and Oklahoma, proudly carrying and hoisting the flag of Wichita, Kansas. Giving our city priceless patronage."
Their Journey annually to Wichita strengthens the cities relationship as neighbors, regardless of distance. Tlalnepantla and Wichita are forever good neighbors and good sisters.
For more information or to join the cyclists in Mulvane, in your car or on your bicycle, contact the Wichita Area Sister Cities Mexico committee through their Facebook page.