The Portland Alley Pedalfest takes place on September 12-13 at Riverside Park in Iola, Kansas. Here is an overview of the route options for Saturday, September 12, 2015.
All routes begin and end at Riverside Park in Iola, and all routes start off on the Southwind Rail Trail. The surface of the trail is crushed limestone, but is typically firm and fast, and is suitable for all types of bikes (including skinny-tired racing bikes, though wider tires often provide better comfort on all types of surfaces). As you leave Iola, plan on stopping to admire the historic Elm Creek Bridge, one of the handsomest bridges in the entire state, if we do say so ourselves.
The 25-mile route takes riders 7 miles on the Southwind to the town of Humboldt, where riders can enjoy a rest stop and take in some of the attractions in this historic community, including the quaint town square with a unique two-level, octagonal-shaped bandstand. The Humboldt Historical Museum includes displays about two home-town baseball heroes (Walter Johnson and George Sweatt), an early twentieth century one-room school house, and information about cement manufacture in Allen County. As you leave town to the west, you’ll cross an impressive Rainbow Arch Bridge over the Neosho River, and you might want to visit the award-winning river park, which features native plants and offers a great place to watch the river roll over a low-water dam. The route continues west and then north on low-traffic paved rural roads, before heading back east on the wide paved shoulder of US-54 highway. At the Neosho River Bridge, there is another small park where you can view the river. Rolling back into Iola, you’ll be on the Prairie Spirit Trail for a short distance before returning to Riverside Park.
The 50-mile route continues south from Humboldt along old US-169 highway, past the impressive Monarch Cement Plant and quarry. As you continue south, take note of the historic markers denoting the ill-fated “Octagon City” Vegetarian Colony. Entering Chanute from the north, you’ll pass by another huge industrial area, the Ash Grove Cement Plant, and then the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum in the restored Railroad Depot. In Chanute, you’ll also have the option of riding their short Katy Hike/Bike Trail, and checking out their downtown, Katy Park, and eating at local restaurants. From Chanute, the route travels north on rural paved roads, entering Humboldt from the east, where it once again passes the Monarch Cement Plant and joins the remainder of the 25-mile route west of the river.
The 75-mile route continues south from Chanute for a few miles, before turning east along the Trans-America Bicycle Trail route. After a 15-mile jog east, the route turns north through the small villages of Stark, Savonburg, and Elsmore. There will be a full-service rest stop at the community center in Elsmore, and the annual “Elsmore Days” street festival will be going on! From Elsmore, the 75-mile route takes rural paved roads back to Humboldt, for a final SAG at Cannon Park, before taking the Southwind Rail Trail back into Iola.
The century route continues north from Elsmore on US-59 highway to Moran, where riders can stock up at the Pump-N-Pete’s c-store before continuing north to little Mildred. The town of Mildred was once home to a huge cement plant (and 2,000 residents); today, the ruins of the cement plant are a local landmark, and the town’s pride and joy is the Mildred Store, and old-fashioned country store that features food and drink for the weary rider. Heading north again on US-59, riders will reach Kincaid, where they can check out the Kincaid High School Community Center Museum and the Home Plate Cafe and baseball memorabilia museum. From Kincaid, you’ll ride west on US-59 to the town of Lone Elm (no services), and on to Colony via paved back roads. In Colony, be sure to load up on supplies at the Colony Community Diner and Convenience Store, before turning south on the last leg, taking the Prairie Spirit Trail through Carlyle, and back to Iola.
If you use a GPS cyclocomputer or a smartphone app that can handle GPX files, you can download a GPS Track to your computer, then upload it to your device. Most devices will provide turn-by-turn directions to allow you to easily follow the route without worrying about missing turns or getting lost.