Pedal to Plate
Autumn rolls in with annual agritourism cycling tour
MISSION VALLEY — More than a 150 cyclists toured the scenic Mission Valley last Saturday stopping at farms along the way to sample local fare and learn about ag operations. The annual Mission Mountain Area Pedal to Plate event promotes area agritourism by connecting visitors with local working farms and ranches. The event began and ended at the Ronan Cooperative Brewery in Ronan – the state’s first cooperative brewery that sources local grains to make its own brews.
Typically a single 40-mile course, cyclists were offered the choice this year of either a 38 or 50-mile route. The 38-mile route offered five local tasting stops while the 50-mile route offered seven.
Both routes met up at Glenwood Farm operated by Will and Jan Tusick. There, cyclists were served a lamb stew lunch with homemade bread and local honey. Cyclists on the 38-mile course got to witness sheep herding by one of the farm’s working dogs while Will Tusick followed behind on an electric bike. On the 50-mile route, cyclists visited the Westphal ranch on Valley View Road where four generations of ranchers were on hand to talk to visitors. After resting, refueling and learning about local agriculture, cyclists carried on to their next stop. The sun peeked in and out of clouds throughout the day suddenly illuminating fields with hay bales, grazing cattle, fruit trees and more set against the backdrop of the area’s Mission Mountain Range.
“It was perfect weather … (and) just fun,” said event organizer Janet Sucha. “Everybody seemed like they had a great time. We got lots of compliments about farms, farmers and the information riders got, the beauty of the route and of course interest in the local brewery.”
Now in their sixth year, fifth event as one wasn’t held in 2020, MMAPP organizers see the return of cyclists who come year after a year as a sign they’re on the track. “The most telling thing is we have people who – if they’ve done it once – they come back,” Sucha said. “We have people from Seattle who come back every year.”
Ending back at the brewery, cyclists celebrated their completed ride with beer, a farm-to-table dinner, farmers market and live music. Also new this year, those who didn’t care to cycle were able to sign up to attend just the culminating dinner portion of the event.
A locally-sourced dinner of meatloaf, roasted vegetables, corn and beer was served to event participants on a long table set with white tablecloths and flowers. “We try very hard to keep it with very low waste,” Sucha said. “Dinner is served on real plates with real forks so that there’s not a lot of garbage at the end.”
Sucha thanked community members for being considerate of cyclists on the roadways and the Lake County Sheriff’s Department for assisting in high-traffic areas. “They’ve been really good about helping,” she said, “they always have a deputy out there following us when they can.
With new farms featured every year, MMAPP invites local producers who are interested to participate in future events. “We’re always looking for people who might be interested in hosting,” Sucha said. “We like to highlight different farms.”