Frequently-asked questions about the Portland Alley Pedalfest:

What is Portland Alley?
“Portland Alley” is a colloquial name for a region of Southeast Kansas with a rich history in the manufacturing of Portland Cement, one of the great building blocks of modern civilization. In the early 20th century, this region – roughly comprising Iola, Humboldt, and Chanute – was home to a large number of cement plants, with the Lehigh Portland Cement Company in Iola ranking as the largest cement plant in the United States. Over time, the industries consolidated, but today the Monarch Cement Company in Humboldt and the Ash Grove Cement Company in Chanute remain two of the top-producing plants in the midwest.
The Portland Alley Pedalfest pays homage to this heritage by taking riders on a tour of the three principal communities in Portland Alley – Iola, Humboldt, and Chanute – using the bike trails and quiet rural bicycle-friendly roads that the region is now known for.
What are the trail surfaces like for the Saturday routes?
The Southwind Rail Trail and the Prairie Spirit Trail are covered in a fine limestone screening. This makes for a smooth, fast, and firm riding surface.
What types of bike is appropriate for riding the trails?
People regularly ride the Southwind Rail Trail and the Prairie Spirit Trail on nearly every type of bike and tire, from mountain bikes with fat knobby tires to racing bikes with narrow, high-pressure tires. They all work. That said, people usually find that a smooth-tread, wide tire is most comfortable and efficient for a variety of surfaces, from rail-trails to chip-seal to asphalt.
How long are the trail sections of the Saturday routes?
The Southwind Rail Trail is about 6.5 miles, and the Prairie Spirit Trail from Colony to Iola is about 10 miles.
Is camping free?
Camping in Riverside Park is included as part of your registration fee, along with access to restrooms, showers, drinking water, electricity and Wi-Fi internet access. Camping is only available in designated areas in the park; the remainder of the park is open to normal public use.
What time can participants check in on Friday?
Participants are welcome to come early, on Friday evening, to camp overnight before the Saturday ride. We’ll have people on-site in Riverside Park to get your checked in and directed to the camping area. You’re also welcome to explore Iola on your own, and enjoy some of our restaurants, cafes, and shops. Town maps will be provided.
Will our tents and gear be safe in the park while we’re out riding?
Yes. We’ll have volunteers on-site in the park to keep everything safe and secure while you’re out enjoying the rides!
Where can we park our cars?
Parking is available in Riverside Park.
Can we camp in our RV?
Only tent camping is available in Riverside Park. However, the nearby Iola RV Park will be happy to let you camp in your rig. 620-365-2200
Are motel rooms available?
Iola has three lodging options: America’s Best Value Inn (620-365-5161), Regency Inn (620-365-2183), and Super 8 (620-365-3030).
Is food provided?
No. On Saturday night, there will be food vendors in the festival. There are also numerous food options in Iola for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and treats. Town maps will be provided.
What if I am unable to complete a route?
If your bike breaks down, or you’re injured, or simple too tired to continue, there will be limited support on the Saturday routes to help you get back to town. For the Sunday self-guided and self-supported routes, there will be an emergency number provided.
Are the routes hilly?
Although there are a few gently rolling hills, the majority of the routes are fairly flat. You probably won’t have to resort to your granny gear…
Are the routes closed to traffic?
The rail-trail portions of the routes are closed to motor vehicle traffic, but the remainder of the routes are on public roads. But traffic is typically very light and respectful of bicycles on the roads. As is always the case, riders are responsible for observing all traffic laws.
What else is there to do in Iola?
Iola has lots of things going on!

  • Check out the largest downtown square in America, bustling with restaurants and shops
  • Visit the Allen County Historical Society, which includes the Allen County Museum, the Old Jail Museum, and the Frederick Funston Boyhood Home and Visitors Center
  • Visit the Bowlus Fine Arts Center, which includes the free Mary L. Martin Art Gallery
  • No visit to Iola is complete without a pilgrimage to the Russell Stover Candies Factory Store, at 1995 Marshmallow Lane (just west of Walmart). Free samples, plus deep discounts on factory-direct treats.
  • The circus is in town! The big top will be located just down the bike trail from our Pedalfest festivities. The two shows are at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on September 12th.
  • Take a self-guided tour around town to explore historic homes, the Victorian-style downtown square, the award-winning Community Garden, the new Disc Golf course, and much more.
  • Visit the Neosho River Fishing Park, and watch the river flow over the low-water dam. There are usually people fishing, and there are often hawks and other birds of prey patrolling the waters for fish. Take US-54 west over the Neosho River bridge.