Iowans to bike in RadTour Bike Ride for farm-to-table food

RadTour Bike Ride

New Pioneer Co-op — Sunday, Sept. 18 at 8 a.m.

Photo by Jared Krauss
Photo by Jared Krauss

On Sunday, Sept. 18, RadTour LLC will bring RadTour Bike Ride (formerly known as Culinary Ride) back to Iowa City for a 37-mile harvest bicycle ride that perfectly exemplifies what’s most magical about Iowa: community, bicycles and farm-to-table values. Riders will gather at New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City and then bike, together, on rural, big-sky roads to arrive at farms where chefs await with thoughtfully prepared, locally sourced food. If you’re attracted to the thought of a leisurely ride with breaks to eat farm-fresh food while meandering around the farm that raised the food, the Culinary Ride is the ideal experience for you.

In May, the Cedar Rapids Culinary Ride led cyclists on a 40-mile loop from Cedar Rapids through farms in Mount Vernon, Solon and Ely; chefs from Griddle Me This! fed us Sausage Foundry sausage and French toast made with homemade bread from The Local Crumb, as we gathered in front of Goldfinch Cyclery, chatting and fueling up for the ride.

The fall Iowa City ride allows chefs to highlight seasonal produce and locally raised meats prepared in heartier autumnal dishes. Last year, chefs from Iowa City’s New Pioneer Co-op fueled the start of the ride with whole grain toast slathered in their legendary cashew-jalapeno spread and topped with veggies and bacon; Wake Up Iowa City coffee flowed freely as cyclists registered and checked in, bundled in early-morning cool-weather gear.

As the ride progressed, riders were treated to virgin Bloody Marys, garnished with snack-loaded skewers, from Griddle Me This!, and carnitas tacos with house-made kimchi from Local Burrito, washed down with Lion Bridge Brewing Company beer. Chefs from Devotay sustained riders at Rapid Creek Ranch with hearty sesame-braised beef with roasted pumpkin and brussels sprouts; though it may seem counterintuitive, the warm beef braising liquid they served in a crock pot alongside the food proved to be more restorative than any sports drink. Yotopia provided a sweet snack of yogurt with berries and granola, while Zaza’s Pasta highlighted local, seasonal veggies in a fall pasta dish and Augusta’s chefs fed hungry riders a mesmerizingly rich layered vegetable and crepe gratin. After the ride, participants gathered at Trumpet Blossom for, you guessed it, more food, and bracing cocktails, and to decompress with new friends everyone had made along the way.

Though 40 miles may seem daunting to less-seasoned cyclists, organizers Audrey Wiedemeier and Kris Estergaard create route maps that allow participants to stop every ten or so miles to tour new farms and eat more food. It turns out that eating a freshly herbed egg salad sandwich while meeting the hens who laid the eggs is the perfect way to break up a ride, and a cup of rich vanilla custard with local fruit and homemade granola, washed down with agua fresca, makes even the hilliest routes feel like child’s play.

This year’s Iowa City ride will feature chefs from New Pioneer Co-op, Griddle Me This!, Devotay and Zaza’s Pastas, feeding riders at Anna’s Cutting Garden, Rapid Creek Ranch and the UI Student Garden. The ride kicks off at the Iowa City New Pi Co-op and ends with a “post-ride fiesta” at Iowa City Brewlab; the route is 37 miles of paved roads with an option to add 5 miles of gravel for the more adventurous cyclists.

Tickets are $65/$40 for students (must present student ID at pickup), and are available on the RadTour website.

A version of this article was originally published in Little Village issue 205.