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Hop on your bike and enjoy a tour of local farms

I am constantly amazed by the quality and skill of the young bike riders that are continually pumping out of the Durango area.

Just this past week, we had two teens win their respective classes as the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships; a teenager won the women’s Iron Horse Bicycle Classic mountain bike race (she also placed eighth in the road race); and then you have the “old” veterans like Christopher Blevins and Howard Grotts who grew up riding in Durango and are now on the national and international stage.

And while I don’t personally know any of these riders, I live in Durango, so of course, they may be friends of my kids, or I taught their parents something about gardening, or whatever else connects us within six degrees of separation.

I learned to ride a bike when I was 7. For heaven’s sake, my kids were riding world-class mountain bike trails when they were 7. My stepson has a room full of BMX trophies and medals and he’s 9.

Ever since the age of 7 (again, I had training wheels when I was 6 – don’t judge me), I’ve enjoyed being on bikes. As teenagers, we launched rocks in Moab, Utah, and flew down the Mancos shale “trails” that are now part of Overend Mountain Park. I’ve broken bones, dislocated shoulders and shed a fair amount of blood. I’m a Durangoan.

Alas, now in my late(r) 40s, I’m in need of a new shoulder, so I find myself more and more relegated to riding a bike as a form of transportation rather than pleasure or exercise. I live at the top of Montview Parkway so I get a bit of workout when I ride home, or at least that’s what I tell myself.

So when the Tour de Farms rolls around, I get excited: I can get a bit of exercise, I can ride my modified Schwinn Le Tour (circa 1978) and I can visit a couple gardens – and then go drink some local beer. That is my idea of a good day.

We are now celebrating our 12th Tour de Farms, and I’m proud to say the Colorado State University Extension Office has played a part in every one of them. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the premise, here is a quick overview:

You decide if you want to do the in-town ride (about 6 miles) or the long ride through the Animas Valley (about 20 miles).Register for the Aug. 17 event at thegardenprojectswcolorado.org.Make sure your bike works, find some spandex (optional!).Meet at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, 2500 Main Ave., by 8 a.m. and ride a bike for about 3½ hours.Stop at some farms or gardens and gain some knowledge and/or appreciation of what our local farmers do.Then go to Ska Brewing Co. World Headquarters and eat some local food provided by Zia Taqueria, drink some beer (also optional), listen to some music and maybe win a prize. It’s a fun day. The tour truly exemplifies all that is unique about living here. It will feature presentations from farmers and gardeners, give you ideas about how you can support efforts to strengthen our local food system and provide inspiration for starting your own edible paradise.

Kids are more than welcome to join, even if they have training wheels.

Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach him at darrin.parmenter@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6464.

Darrin Parmenter