Pedal power returns for bike festival



September 7, 2016 - 12:00 AM

If it’s anything like last year, Iola’s historic Riverside Park will surge with ecstatic activity this weekend when Thrive Allen County hosts the second annual Portland Alley Pedalfest.
Participants from near and far will gather for bike rides, barbecue, bouncy houses, beer and a night of live music. The event will be an occasion to showcase the area’s top-notch system of recreational trails, which is slowly transforming Allen County into one of the state’s top trails destinations.
The bicycle-themed festival begins on Friday with camping and a bike-in outdoor movie. The movie — the canonical ‘80s comedy “The Goonies” (“Hey, you guys!) — will begin at sunset in Riverside Park. Pedalfest participants may camp Friday and Saturday nights in the park, where showers, restrooms, water and free Wi-Fi will be provided.
Saturday is the centerpiece of the three-day festival. Riders will launch themselves out across Allen County’s many miles of trails, which will expose cyclists to the area’s diverse scenery. Pedalfest was designed to accommodate all levels of cycling expertise and offers five route options — 15 miles (“Family Fun Ride”), 20 miles, 50 miles, 75 miles and a 100-mile “century” route. 
Courses will also introduce riders to some of the distinctive little burgs that make up southeast Kansas. Riders begin on the Southwind Rail Trail, connecting Iola and Humboldt (which is hosting its city-wide garage sale on Saturday). More ambitious routes include the following towns: Chanute (hosting its Mexican Fiesta on that day); Erie (home to the area’s only dinosaur park); Stark (site of the popular Murphy’s Landing B&B); Savonburg (great library!); Elsmore (hosting its annual Elsmore Days on Saturday); Moran (grab a milkshake at Chancey’s); Mildred (home of an award-winning grocery store and cafe); Kincaid (site of a picturesque rural school house); and Colony (where you can wet your whistle at Rick’s Halfway House).
Each route begins and ends in Riverside Park. Registration for participants begins at 7 a.m. on Saturday and rides begin at 8 a.m. There will be plenty of water and food on offer at rest stops along the way.
After the day’s pedaling, the fest kicks in. Bouncy houses will be available for kids from 3 to 8 p.m. There will be a massage therapist on hand to squeeze the flesh of weary riders. Dudley’s Done Right BBQ will serve an array of barbecue. LaHarpe’s Simply Delicious will provide additional food options. Rookies Bar and Grill will be tending the beer garden. As for the night’s live music, the stage will feature Tate McCoy, Steve Strickland, Emma Piazza and, headlining the event — at this point, pretty much the musical mascot of Allen County — the dynamic and crowd-pleasing Pompous Jack.
Sunday features self-guided bicycle tours of the surrounding countryside, including a tour of the new singletrack trails that make up the Lehigh Portland Trails (route maps for all tours will be provided by Thrive).
For more information or to register for the event visit the Portland Alley Pedalfest Facebook page: Or visit

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