Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD – The Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its Third Annual “Harvest Rush Gravel Grinder” on Saturday, Sept. 24.
The event challenges local cyclists to explore Jefferson County’s gravel and dirt roads, with three routes for skill levels ranging from beginner to intermediate to gravel aficionado. Riders will depart from Fishback and Stephenson Cider House just north of Fairfield between 7:30-9 a.m. that day.
The shortest ride, “Harvest Rush,” is 32.6 miles, with a break at the halfway point near the Polishville Cemetery with water and snacks. Riders should be on the lookout for helium balloons and water coolers to mark this and other stops.
The intermediate course, called “Dirt Road Anthem,” is 58.5 miles, and includes two stops, the one in Polishville and another in Salina.
For the most daring cyclists, the “Dissident Aggressor” route offers a challenging 115.4-mile course with stops in Polishville, Salina, Yucca Avenue, and Pine Avenue. A cash prize of $1,000 awaits the top male and female finisher in this race.
In addition to the water and snack stations to give riders some relief, the chamber will also offer SAG support for riders who need help or who decide they cannot finish the race. Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mendy McAdams said riders will receive her cell phone number before the race, and are instructed to call her if they need to be picked up.
“Some people are trying something for the first time, and if they want to be done, they are welcome to call us at the base camp and we’ll come get them,” she said.
Participants may register in advance or the day of the race, using cash or credit card. Helmets, lights and flashes are mandatory, and will be checked at the starting line. All participants will receive a “swag bag,” and there will be prizes for the winners of the short and intermediate races. The cost of the two shorter rides is $40, and the longest ride is $95.
McAdams said Jefferson County is blessed to have so many nice gravel and dirt roads, and even has more dirt roads than any neighboring county.
“More than 33 percent of the route is on Level B roads,” she said. “We’re just on the Loop Trail briefly to avoid traffic.”
McAdams said she’s already received registrations from people all over the state excited for this challenge, people from Burlington, Ames, Ankeny, Cedar Rapids and Montrose.
The chamber is still looking for volunteers for the event. McAdams said the cyclists doing the long route will probably take 12 hours to finish, but she’s not asking volunteers to stay all day.
“We’d like some volunteers for four hours at the beginning, and four hours at the end,” she said.
Volunteers will help with setting up and tearing down, running the registration table, being a SAG support vehicle, and helping at the checkpoints.
Hungry cyclists should know that Fishback and Stephenson Cider House will be serving food, and there will be a food truck on site to serve the riders.
McAdams said she’s hoping for a good turnout, because money raised at this bike race and through the Bike Around the Fairfield Loop Trail Annual Fun Ride (BAFLTAFR) goes toward the bike safety program at the local elementary schools.
“It’s very important to us because Fairfield is big on biking, and we want to make sure those kids are getting the right information about signaling, wearing helmets and knowing where to ride,” McAdams said.
To learn more, visit the chamber’s website at fairfieldiowa.com.
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at email@example.com