Pedal the Plains - Alt Rock Meets Americana

By Katie Macarelli

Photo Credit: Megan Hottman

A few days ago I was reading a music review from the newspaper. The song the review focused on was described as "Alt Rock Meets Americana". Coincidentally on the same day 303 asked me to write something up for Pedal the Plains. This phrase is the perfect descriptor for my weekend at the Pedal the Plains. I'll explain the "Alt Rock" a little later, but Eastern Colorado is obviously the "Americana".

I grew up on a (still operating) dairy farm in Burlington, CO. I loved the town, the people, the closeness, the predictability of harvest, the unpredictability of tornados, my family, our farm, all of it. However, once I graduated high-school, and went to CU Boulder, I fell in love with the Front Range. I had literally never been hiking in the mountains until one week into my freshman year when I hiked (and fell off of) the Flat-Irons. Luckily I was hiking with a grad student who was a paramedic, but that's another story. When I first saw Pedal the Plains advertised in the Denver Post, I jumped up and down in my kitchen and pretended I was a cowboy riding a horse and roping calves.

My two little girls were amused. My husband was disturbed. "You should find a friend to do that with you!", he encouraged. Which translated to: "I will NOT be doing that with you. Have fun." And fun I WOULD HAVE, because a few days later, my friend Megan asked if I wanted to be her team-mate for a Pedal the Plains Contest that she'd won. She'd be blogging about the experience in exchange for two free entry-fees. My response? "Yes, yes, double yes!" (with more simulated horse riding and roping motions).

Related Content

Altitude TV Schedule for Pedal Plains Documentary
The documentary about the Pedal the Plains event and northeastern Colorado will begin airing on the Altitude Sports Channel this Wednesday evening.

The full schedule of viewing times is listed below:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 8:00 PM
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 11:00 PM
Thursday, November 29, 2012 12:00 PM
Thursday, November 29, 2012 9:00 PM
Friday, November 30, 2012 11:00 AM
Saturday, December 01, 2012 6 pm
Thursday, December 06, 2012 1:00 AM
Saturday, December 08, 2012 5:00 AM
Monday, December 10, 2012 8:00 PM
Saturday, December 15, 2012 2:00 PM
Monday, December 17, 2012 3:00 PM
Monday, December 17, 2012 1:00 AM
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 11:00 AM

Past Articles
Hickenlooper interviewd at Pedal the Plains

George Thomas talks with Biju and others on Pedal the Plains

This was back in June when I had grandiose plans of training. And then life happened. My family moved two times between July and August. Yes. Two times. I was lucky I could even FIND my bike, shoes and helmet in our storage unit/garage, let alone use them. So. The week before PTP it's safe to say that I was fa-reaking out. Not only was I team-mates with Cat 1/former Pro rider, but this ride would be in my home-town where people still remembered me as "funny but a bit weird and not that great of an athlete"-as my own brother would put it. AND Megan and I were also going to be one of two teams that would be filmed for a documentary of the occasion. This meant video documentation of my assured suckiness. Before the weekend, I openly begged the film crew to not film me a. crying, b. throwing up or c. cursing. They giggled and told me that I'd already signed a release.

Day one: 30 or so miles, Yuma to Wray.

After a phenomenal opening ceremony with the locals and Govn. Hickenlooper, we were off. Piece of cake. Perfect weather, no wind, and no flat-tires for us, as Megan and I carried our bikes like total freaks every time we hit dirt. This was met with looks of confusion by the locals, but we were playing it smart. We finished on Wray High School track--the same track that I ran an abysmally slow 800 meter "dash" in high school.

Katie and Megan
Photo Credit: Megan Hottman

The two FFA boys we were mentoring finished it and were just happy to be alive. We met up with them after and had a few minutes of debriefing mixed with rest and recovery suggestions/drafting practice for day two. Speaking of day two. I was wearing my impending dread like a physical article of clothing. I was zipping it up bit by bit around my body as the day progressed. But I went to bed in my child-hood room at my parent's house and slept more than I had in perhaps the 10 years since we had had kids.
*Note to self: travel with Megan more and my kids less.

Day 2: Gran Fondo, 120 mile race against the clock.

Seeing as how I didn't really race, per se over the summer, or even really train, I was more than a touch worried about a 120 mile "race against the clock" (and 90 some other people). I started out in my hometown of Burlington. A tourist attraction called, "Old Town" to be exact. I worked at Old Town for five summers, starting when I was 14 (pretty sure that's against child-labor laws). Old Town gave my friends and I many happy memories. Starting a Gran Fondo at the same parking lot where I planned my Saturday night cruise-fests was so weird that it seemed almost normal. Again, I was a HORRIBLE. HORRIBLE athlete my entire athletic career as pre-teen, and teenager in Burlington. It was an odd sort of paradigm shift to be back starting a 120 mile bike race in team kit, getting out of a team logo'd car.

Photo Credit: Megan Hottman

I held on for 30 miles, then got dropped. Dropped in a sad, sad way. But the good thing about getting dropped by the main pelaton, in my opinion is...making new friends!!! And making new friends is what I did. There was Mark from Castle Rock. He was the first guy I came upon and worked with as an individual TT. Then we added Mike. A 60 year old bad-ass. We finally stopped at mile 70 for a Scratch Labs lunch and I chatted with one of my former Burlington friends who was volunteering at Liberty--where I had suffered a few abysmal track meets. Mike, Mark and I headed out and picked up Zack and Jill. Then we dropped Jill. And we dropped Zack. And we dropped Mark.
At mile 85, I dropped Mike and picked up Michael. Michael and I may as well have become blood brothers. Because for the next 35 miles, we were inseparable. I had done the Deer Trail race in the Spring, had gotten dropped and rode that race essentially by myself. I was NOT going to suffer like that alone again. EVER. Ev. VER. As soon as I got Michael to talk about his daughter and joke around a bit, I knew I had a partner.
We finished that Gran Fondo roughly an hour after Megan. But I was happy to just finish Seriously. I was very worried that I would get taken out by an errant tumbleweed or have a mental break-down on camera and they'd haul me off, sobbing in the Sag Wagon. Not the case. I even mustered a teeny sprint down Main St. with Michael cheering me on.

That night Old Town hosted a festival of epic proportions. I had never seen so many people crowding the streets. I daresay it rivaled the last big celebration out there which was Burlington's "Centennial" celebration back in 1988 (when my dad dressed up as Abraham Lincoln for the parade. I kid you not). There were local vendors, old friends, good food, wonderful beer and a surprise band, which happened to be DVOTCHKA.
Talk about "Alt Rock meets Americana". Sandwiched between the Antique farm-equipment Museum and the Manor House was a fantastic makeshift stage with a cello and a drum-set with the band's logo on it. It was just so cool and a little more than a bit surreal.

After a brief spin on the Kit Carson County Carousel, (I DID get the Hippocampus by the way), we went back to Old Town for the awards ceremony. We stayed as long as our sleepy bodies would allow and then we went back to my parent's house to prep for day three and pack up to leave.

Day 3: The Century, or the 80 mile option (if you take the wrong turn on purpose in Stratton) from Burlington to Yuma.

I awoke thinking my body would be pulverized. It wasn't. Megan had wisely set up massages for us upon finishing the Gran Fondo. *note to self: again, travel more with Megan. Despite feeling "pretty good for riding 120 miles yesterday", we both decided on the ride into town that we were in fact good with the 80 mile version of the day. We met up with Kendall and Jayce (our FFA documentary cohorts) before the start where they presented us with our very own FFA t-shirts!!

Govener Hickenlooper talking to the people

We warmed up with a little more coffee inside the visitor's center and then started rolling. It was windy. Really windy. From Burlington to Stratton it was wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnndddddddyyyyyyyyyy. Finally we turned North and life was smooth sailing. We even found Kendall and Jayce along the way and got to experience a good chunk of the miles together.

Their riding had improved VASTLY just from Friday to Sunday. We got a few good pics of the day (around farm equipment of course), and had a wonderful time at the finish and closing ceremonies in Yuma.

We ate (a lot), hung out a bit and watched Kendall and Jayce finish. We even got to meet their families. That was a very sweet moment. We were so proud of them. Two young men who had NEVER been on road bikes ever. Rode that whole weekend and finished with smiles on their faces. Bravo.

Finally, we packed it up and Megan got us back home in probably 1.5 hours because she drives as fast as she rides. Which was good, since I missed my family. :)

I cannot wait for next year's event. There is some buzz about a possible CX race or crit instead of the Gran Fondo (sign me up) or maybe even some sort of Roubaix (yummy). Whatever the shape or form this event takes in the future, I will be there.
"Alt Rock meets Americana" is kind of my cup of tea (and for those of you who know me, you know this really means "my cup of coffee and/or my glass of wine").

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