Sports: Pedal the Plains

September 2012

We get it. People love the mountains. People love to ride bicycles in the mountains. But, until now, we've left the other half of the Centennial State, well, out east. Colorado is barely over the USA Pro Cycling Challenge hangover and it's time to start the Tour de Eastern Colorado. The inaugural Pedal the Plains (September 21-23) is a three-day tour through the agriculturally-based Eastern plains that covers between 30 and 100 miles per day. Unlike the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, you don't have to keep up with Christian Vande Velde. Riders are made up of daily commuters, casual bike tourists, and families, rather than the world's top professionals. Think less about personal bests and more about checking out a part of the state that sometimes gets lost east of I-25. If you aren't already registered, you can still ride; the race will accept walk-ons (er, bike-ons)* on race day. Bonus: You can always attend the post-ride parties. Meet the riders at the end of each day for small-town celebrations along the three-day route. 

Day 1: Wray Browse a variety of booths, activities, and games focused on highlighting the Colorado lifestyle sans city and mountains. Chat up experts on how wind turbines are catching the breeze and powering our homes, watch roping demostrations, and cheer on the “Top Hogs” trick pig act (as seen on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno). The free festival promises good eats and a beer garden hosted by Odell Brewing Company and Left Hand Brewing Company.

Day 2: Burlington Word in the fields is that a big-name musical performer is stopping in Burlington on Saturday night. This county fair-esqe party will stake out right in the center of Old Town with local cuisine for dinner and a barn dance afterward. Admission is free to riders and $5 for anyone else who wants to join in. 

Day 3: Yuma The cyclists will be finished riding and if they aren't too saddle-sore, they'll join you for the "Celebration of Ag" barbecue and farmers' market. Snag some local chow like beef and chicken fajitas on Colorado wheat tortillas, fresh watermelon, and Western Dairy ice cream. The Yuma's youngest cowboys and cowgirls will put on the Little Britches Rodeo in the grandstands before Congressman Cory Gardner hosts the ride's closing ceremonies. 

*An earlier version of this story stated that registration was closed. This is incorrect because the race will allow day-of registrations. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Follow editorial assistant Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter at @LindseyRMcK.