This bicycle ride is no race

Tour de Farms all about exploring local agriculture

Last year’s Tour de Farms made a stop at Heather Downing and Bob Orbelo’s house on the corner of 19th Street and Forest Avenue in Durango. The couple has chickens as well as about a thousand plants that fill their yard. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Last year’s Tour de Farms made a stop at Heather Downing and Bob Orbelo’s house on the corner of 19th Street and Forest Avenue in Durango. The couple has chickens as well as about a thousand plants that fill their yard.

The sixth annual Tour de Farms that offers a peek at agriculture – as it’s done large scale or in the backyard – is set for Aug. 18. That’s just two days before some of the world’s top cyclists ride many of the same roads – albeit at a much faster pace.

Tour de Farms offers two choices:

An outing for recreational bicyclists covers five miles beginning in historic downtown Durango and cruising around the city.

A 35-mile ride, described as leisurely, will take riders up to Hesperus to see four farm operations.

Whichever the tour, riders will see homegrown produce that the tour organizers, Growing Partners of Southwest Colorado and the Colorado State University Extension, say is homegrown, unique and healthy.

Growers will be at each stop to talk about their work.

The Tour de Farms is a natural for La Plata County, said Darrin Parmenter, a Colorado State University Extension agent in Durango.

“We live in an area where people are incredibly active, like bikes and like food,” he said. “We pride ourselves on an active, healthy lifestyle.”

Scheduling Tour de Farms on the weekend of the USA Pro Challenge bicycle race, a seven-day competition that will begin Aug. 20 in Durango, could seem misguided, Parmenter said. But the sponsors want to connect visitors to the La Plata County lifestyle.

Registration is limited to 40 riders for each event. The cost is $20 a person (children in bike seats are exempt) or $50 for a family – two adults and up to two children.

The registration fee includes the post-tour lunch at Ska Brewing and a commemorative glass.

All riders must wear helmets. Riders in the long tour must be at least 12 years old and proficient bicyclists.

Food samples will be given at farm stops, but personal snacks may be carried.

The downtown tour will start at 8 a.m. at the transit center, 250 W. Eighth St. The Hesperus ride will start at 7:30 a.m. at Ska Brewery, 225 Girard, in Bodo Industrial Park.

In addition to the tour organizers, sponsors are the Ayurveda Center of Durango, Healthy Lifestyles La Plata, Zia Taqueria, Ska Brewing, Mercy Regional Medical Center, Hassle Free Sports, Nature’s Oasis, Twin Buttes, Namaste Health Center, Cooking Matters and the city of Durango’s multi-modal transportation program.

daler@durangoherald.com

A pink hat and sunflower hands made up a scarecrow at the Southside Community Garden during the 2011 Tour de Farms. Enlarge photo

JOSH STEPHENSON/Durango Herald

A pink hat and sunflower hands made up a scarecrow at the Southside Community Garden during the 2011 Tour de Farms.

Tour de Farms participants last year learned about the garden at Needham Elementary School. Enlarge photo

JOSH STEPHENSON/Durango Herald

Tour de Farms participants last year learned about the garden at Needham Elementary School.