I recently had the pleasure of riding the Iron Giant across the prairies at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. With beautiful weather and a conservation-oriented atmosphere it was Happy Riding at it's best.
The first annual Pedal the Prairie, hosted by Friends of the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge showcased the new bike lanes flanking Prairie Parkway. Closed to automobile traffic, the road was comfortably busy with over 500 cyclists pedaling their way up and down hills, stopping to view bison, native wildflowers, and toss seed bombs. All genres of cyclists participated from those fully kitted out on road bikes to kids with bells, baskets and handlebar streamers. What a happy sight!
My sister and I prepped for the ride with coffee outside session at Entryway Park in Prairie City. Beans from Coffee Culture and two slices of pie. Rhubarb and Apple. Perfect!
After fueling up we pedaled the scenic (and hilly) 5 miles to the Welcome Center where we checked out displays, received great giveaways, and had lunch. Next was a 3 mile walk along Tall Grass Trail. What views!
Before heading back to Prairie City we stopped at the bookstore inside the Prairie Learning Center and purchased ride t-shirts. I also bought a Sparky the Bison shirt. Sparky lives at the refuge and survived being struck by lightening in 2013. Check out his interesting story here.
The return trip was a bit quieter with fewer folks on the road. Arriving at a rather empty parking lot it appeared we were some of the last to return.
If you missed the opportunity to participate in Pedal the Prairie, don't fret. You can pedal anytime this summer. Bike trails are open during daylight hours and lots of events take place at the refuge throughout the year. Plan a visit and a pedal along the prairie.