Pedal the Plains is a 3-day road ride in central Colorado that will be held from September 13-15, 2019. The ride features a 3-day fully-supported option, with a one-day road or gravel century option too.
The ride celebrates Colorado's rich pioneer and agricultural traditions with a new route each year.
We asked organizer Deirdre Moynihan of the Denver Post Community Foundation about the ride.
Cycling West: Tell us about the ride and the course. What are the highlights along the way? How many riders do you expect?
Pedal the Plains: We get approximately 1100 riders annually. Day 1 goes from Kiowa to Bennett. It is a shorter day of approximately 32 miles on the Kiowa Bennett Road. What is really interesting is that both Kiowa and Bennett border the more Metro areas of Denver and the Front Range. The surrounding completely changes when you cross into these towns – you know you are in the country immediately. Once in Kiowa, I parked my car to go to a local café (Patty Ann’s Café) and a group of folks on horses rode up and parked their horses! The Kiowa-Bennett Rd has many farms and ranches and it is beautiful countryside. One of the Aid Stations will be a local Alpaca Ranch – Kamali Alpaca Ranch – and the cyclists will be able to meet and hang out with the Alpaca. Day 2 will showcase big wheat farms and cattle ranches before heading south on Route 71 towards Limon. There will be a great aid station at one of the largest bison ranches. A fun stop will be Last Chance. Last Chance is all but gone now but was the town that everyone traveling East would stop at for gas and food because it was their “Last Chance” for a long time! The building of Interstate 70 made the town unnecessary and people stopped going. For those riders that want an extra challenge they can continue onto Genoa after reaching Limon. The trip to Genoa adds about 20 miles to make it a century with a great aid station at the World’s Wonder View Tower. This was highlighted in Rigley’s Believe or Not at one point. They say that you can see 6 states from the top of the tower. And for those that want a big challenge they can do the Great Mustang Gravel 100 with lunch at the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary. The gravel route winds in and out of true farm country with ranches, corn, and wheat. It is just beautiful. The final day heads back to Kiowa traveling through some little towns along the way. Day 3 has more towns than the previous days so it is really fun to stop in them. One of the great highlights will be the Paint Mines – a geological wonder in the Eastern Plains.
And the route is only part of the fun – what happens at the Headquarters each day when you finish is amazing – farmers show off their crops, knee slapping music, some great food and of course beer!
CW: What are the food and beverage highlights during and after the ride each day? How do you showcase the local agriculture and culinary folks?
PTP: We showcase them in a variety of ways. For example the Colorado Egg Producers are at an Aid Station every day with hard boiled eggs. The Colorado FFA (Future Farmers of America) do lunch every day and source out local food to use. We always try to use the local crop as much as possible – this area is a bit interesting because the local crop really is beef! The 2018 Route really travels through cattle country.
CW: What's the new gravel ride like?
PTP: Fun, beautiful, challenging! For the most part it is a packed dirt, although there are a few sandy spots. It has a few rolling hills that add to the challenge but for the most part it is just some beautiful roads surrounding by corn and horses. You feel like it is just you and the road. There are a few farm vehicles but not many so you feel very safe as you ride along.
CW: Tell us more about the history of the area and the points of interest on the ride.
PTP: Much of the history comes from people traveling. Limon has remnants of the Smoky Hill Trail, established in 1859, went from Atchison, Kansas to Denver to provide a route for individuals during the Colorado Gold Rush. Strasburg, the town next to Bennett, is the location where the Transcontinental Railroad met. There is a great story about that. Union Pacific celebrated the meeting of the Transcontinental Railroad in Utah 15 months before it actually happened. Kiowa and Elbert County possess a quintessential Western landscape with long-distance views of the Front Range and working agricultural lands. This area marks the end of the Front Range and the beginning of high plains grasslands.
CW: Can you tell us about the beneficiaries of the ride?
PTP: The 2 key beneficiaries are:
- Colorado FFA: Integrated into the curriculum of over 100 high schools in Colorado, the Colorado FFA Foundation is the premier co-curricular leadership organization for students ages 14 – 18. Most members of Colorado FFA do not come from a farm or ranch but have a desire to learn more about agriculture and the inspiring task of providing food and fiber to a growing population. Areas of focus are: premier leadership; personal growth; and career success through agricultural education.
- Colorado 4-H: Embedded in the CSU Extension Offices, 4-H is a non-profit designed for youth ages 5 through 18 years of age living in counties across the state. 4-H began over 100 years ago as an educational program for the rural youth of America. Their mission remains to empower young people to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults. Through projects in environmental science, rocketry, foods and nutrition, animal science, and photography, members of 4-H learn important skills such as leadership, ethics, decision making, record keeping, responsibility, and community service. The 4-H motto, “To make the best BETTER,” is something that this non-profit strives to accomplish as it embarks on another century of service for America’s youth.
September 13-15, 2019 — Pedal the Plains, Kiowa, CO, PTP will take cyclists through the host communities of Kiowa, Bennett and Limon. Celebrates the agricultural roots and frontier heritage of the Eastern Plains of Colorado. Learn about farming and ranching, while experiencing the culture, history and landscape of Colorado's high plains.The Tour incorporates interactive on-route experiences by staging rest stops on farms, posting educational points of interest and serving community meals composed of locally sourced food. New in 2018 is the Great Mustang Gravel 100 80% on packed dirt or gravel roads, this route will be fun and challenging for the gravel expert or rookie! Proceeds from Pedal The Plains benefit The Denver Post Community Foundation in support of the Colorado FFA Foundation and Colorado 4-H., Deirdre Moynihan, 303-954-6704, [email protected], pedaltheplains.com