More than 800 bikers came out for the inaugural Pedal the Prairie Saturday. Bikers of all ages made the trek from Prairie City to the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge to celebrate the grand opening of the Prairie Parkway Bike Trail.
The 10-mile ride officially kicked off at 9:30 a.m. but many bikers took off well before the designated start time. Seasoned riders rode the new trail alongside enthusiastic locals and those looking for a fun morning activity.
Along the way, bikers got breathtaking views of the prairie, including the bison and elk who call it home. They were also able to toss seed bombs to help continue the growth of native wildflowers and grasses along the route.
“This is a great event. It is definitely the first annual, we are going to have to do this again,” Prairie City Mayor Chad Alleger said following his ride to the refuge. “The cooperation with the city and Neal Smith has just been amazing. There are activities in town and at the refuge so I think the more we do it, the more people are going to jump on board.”
Acting refuge manager Cheryl Groom agreed with Alleger, thanking the city for letting them use the west end for registration tables and a starting point for the riders.
“It is phenomenal,” Groom said. “We initially started planning this and figured about 200 to 300 people would come. We had 800 registered, so it exploded. I’m psyched to see the great turn out.”
Once bikers made it to the refuge, a host of activities were available to them. The activity center was open with rangers on hand to talk about the refuge, its history and work currently being done there. Bikers could also take to the walking trails to explore the refuge and see the animals up close and personal.
Event organizer Brianna Patrick was surprised but happy with the large turn out. Initially expecting a few dozen people, the event grew in popularity and with that, brought a new crowd to see the prairie.
“With the weather being this nice, a lot of people who just heard about it came out for the ride,” Patrick said. “We’re really happy, a lot of folks who have never heard of the refuge are coming out. I think we have found a new audience with the bikers. For the first year ever, it has been awesome.”
Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or email@example.com