Plains Thinking

Colorado governor John Hickenlooper envisioned a different kind of ride when his office announced Pedal the Plains last January. Unlike such scenic yet grueling multi-day mountain circuits as Ride the Rockies, this race was conceived as a way to give equal time to the oft-ignored eastern plains of Colorado, where little towns like Wray, Burlington and Yuma are places one usually zips past while driving cross-country. Different scenery, different concept altogether: This weekend’s three-day Pedal the Plains event instead offers family-friendly straightaways and rolling hills, with lots of educational stops along the way. And when the riders pull into town after a day of pedaling from one discovery to the next, they’ll experience a hoedown of sorts while mingling with the well-weathered natives.

To help plan those old-fashioned festivities, Denver County Fair director Dana Cain was called in to oversee the beer gardens, pie-eating contests, petting zoos and “Just Plain” trivia quizzes that will fill the downtime in each host city. “It’s very Mayberry R.F.D. out there,” Cain says, without a hint of irony. “A lot of people in Denver are curious about the eastern plains. We’ve all been to the mountains, been to the Western Slope, but who’s ever spent time on the plains?”

And although registration is closed for the ride, demonstrations, crafts and tours will be available in Wray today from noon to 9 p.m., and a major fair will be held from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday in Old Town Burlington — which Cain likens to an “adult-sized Tiny Town” — featuring live music by a top-secret attraction and fireworks at night; admission is $5 (and at least a tank of gas, should you choose to drive out there). Pedal the Plains finishes up in Yuma on Sunday; go to www.pedaltheplains.com for information.
Sept. 21-23, 2012

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