Thursday, April 24, 2014

Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868

COLUMN: Forty miles later with the Polk Pedalers, Sports Editor Nicole Watkins lived to tell a tale

POLK COUNTY -- Sometimes, my eyes are a little bigger than my stomach. Well, in this case, bigger than my athletic and endurance abilities.

After taking off from downtown Dallas, the Polk Pedalers met at Independence’s Riverview Park before heading to Buena Vista.

Photo by Nicole Watkins

After taking off from downtown Dallas, the Polk Pedalers met at Independence’s Riverview Park before heading to Buena Vista.

June 19, 2013

POLK COUNTY -- Sometimes, my eyes are a little bigger than my stomach.

Well, in this case, bigger than my athletic and endurance abilities.

That's because I decided that on Saturday I was going to see what all this Polk Pedaler business was about.

Did I pick an easy, 20-mile ride?

No! 40 miles is the way to do it, I thought, as I mentally signed myself up for Polk Pedaler Bike Club's June ride, the Buena Vista loop.

The Polk Pedalers, based out of Dallas, are now in their fourth year of hosting monthly "easy" bike rides throughout the county.

Granted, these guys are not Tour de France-caliber, and that's the point. Most are older, some retired, and I happened to be the second-youngest in attendance out of the dozen or so who showed up at Dallas' Courtyard Coffeehouse and Deli at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Looking around, however, I did notice my self-described "vintage" mountain bike I purchased off Craigslist might not be the best ride for the trek.

This realization was only further confirmed about 2 miles into the ride on the way to Independence's Riverview Park, when Nona Springer, a Polk Pedalers official member and Dallas resident, said "Hello" and zoomed by me and into the distance as we headed east on Orrs Corner Road.

Luckily, there were two sections of the group: the first, whom I called the fast bikers -- Pedalers President Dick Dye included -- and the second, the few that perhaps felt sorry for me and stayed near the back of the pack where I was pedaling my little heart out.

We met a couple participants in Independence (9 miles down!) and I was even more relieved when club co-founder Wayne Sitkei suggested that we stop at Ovenbird Bakery and grab some snacks.

Now, this was my kind of ride!

With the "fast" bikers onward ahead, Wayne, his daughter and 2004 Dallas High grad Sarah Laws (Sitkei), George Sarsfield of Salem, Heather Wilson of Dallas and Bruce Sigloh of Salt Creek took a break, had a coffee -- and a lemon cookie for me -- before heading off to Buena Vista Park.

Members of the Polk Pedalers head toward Buena Vista Saturday morning. The full ride was just under 40 miles.

Photo by Nicole Watkins

Members of the Polk Pedalers head toward Buena Vista Saturday morning. The full ride was just under 40 miles.

This was the fun part. On a beautiful, sunny day, I was able to see all the places in Polk County I've tended to overlook before.

We passed FirstFruits Farm, then headed down Buena Vista Road toward Rogue Ales Farms Micro Hopyard. Unfortunately, we didn't stop. A little too early for a brew, I suppose.

We passed Buena Vista Flowers and Buena Vista House -- "That's where that is!" I thought, before stopping for a bit at Buena Vista Park.

This was 17 miles into the ride.

I felt OK -- beef jerky and dried cranberries in my bag helped -- and we headed back to Independence.

Luckily, Sarsfield, who works as an engineer in Salem, hung back with me while the rest surged ahead (I blame my slow, fat-tired mountain bike, once again) and we chatted about life, college and sports.

Before heading back to Dallas, I even made a stop at New York Bagel in Monmouth -- why I haven't been there before now, I do not know -- and it was there that I realized this club is truly something special.

There's rides and paces for everyone. The social aspect -- while riding in some beautiful parts of the county -- can't be beat.

And after 36.96 miles and 1,300 calories burned, at least, according to my GPS application on my phone, it was one heck of a workout.

If I can do it -- and I'm no avid biker, believe me -- you can, too. The next ride is July 22. Go ahead and mark your calendar.

--

Nicole Watkins is the sports editor at the Itemizer-Observer. She can be reached at nwatkins@polkio.com or 503-623-2373.

POLK PEDALERS BIKE CLUB

REMAINING 2013 RIDE SCHEDULE

July 22 -- Full Moon Night Ride and Soak

* Meet at Dallas Aquatic Center at 7 p.m., swim after a short ride.

Aug. 17 -- Amity Breakfast Loop (30 miles)

* Meet at Perrydale School, stop in Amity for breakfast items.

Sept. 14 -- Burnt Woods to Newport (45 miles)

* Carpool to Burnt Woods, one-way ride to Newport.

Oct. 26 -- Airlie Fall Colors Loop (20 miles)

* Meet at Courtyard Coffeehouse & Deli, 156 SE Mill St., Dallas.

NOTE: Rides are open to everyone. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Helmets and water strongly suggested. For more information: Dick Dye, bikedog@q.com or 503-623-6533.

Hot Jobs