Community Agriculture Alliance: Locally sourced | SteamboatToday.com

Community Agriculture Alliance: Locally sourced

Matthew Alford/For Steamboat Today

Handmade bicycles and local agriculture — they have more in common than you might think.

The Moots-Colorado Ranch Rally is celebrating the fourth edition of the 50-mile fundraising event Saturday  with proceeds benefiting the Community Agriculture Alliance. This relationship between cycling enthusiasts and ranchers may seem odd, at first, but if you look a little closer, we share so many values that it really is a natural fit.

First is appreciation for our local natural environment and the clean air and open vistas we are blessed with here in Routt County. For cyclists, the continued health and success of local agricultural enterprises provides miles of quiet roads and amazing scenery, free of subdivisions and ever encroaching development mere minutes from downtown Steamboat. These traffic-free roadways accessing centennial ranches, farms, historical hamlets, schoolhouses and cemeteries are some of the best riding routes in Colorado, a fact the Ranch Rally seeks to share with local riders and visiting cyclists, alike.

Secondly, cyclists like to eat — a lot. For some of us, a hard ride provides a perfect excuse for a truly impressive amount of chowing down on locally raised, grass-fed beef. With the health and environmental benefits of locally grown produce, meats, eggs, honey and other agricultural products, cyclists and other Routt County athletes are well-served by the bounty our local producers have on offer.

We are eager consumers of these foodstuffs via our local restaurants, markets and the ranches and farms of Routt County by way of the CAA Marketplace and other outlets. Checking on the health and abundance of these local foods is as easy and pleasurable as a quick ride, run or paddle in any direction where the green fields, buzzing bees and happy cows can be observed fattening up under the Colorado sunshine.

Knowing where your food comes from is vital, and for dedicated cyclists, knowing who built that bike you love so much can be equally important. In this era of outsourcing everything that touches our lives, it's good to know when you fuel up, you can prepare food that was raised just off the roads you are headed out to ride.

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The same can be said about bicycles; this week marks 200 years since the two-wheeler was invented. The vast majority of bicycles are made overseas in giant factories that churn them out by the thousands. Junk food, if you will.

Here at Moots in Steamboat Springs, you can have a high-end, custom bicycle made just for you at a small workshop mere yards off the roads and trails we all love to ride. Farm to table and local workshop to local trails: How many people in the world actually have this opportunity to do this? Not many. As a very physically active community, the ability to locally source our food and our bicycles is as good, or better, than anywhere in the world.

As summer really gets rolling here in the Yampa Valley, I'd also like to remind my fellow cyclists of a few things as we ride our quiet country roads.

  • Leave gates as you find them.
  • Speak with horse riders and ranchers along your route, and offer to help with cattle drives. It's fun, and you may learn a thing or two.
  • Be wary of ag machinery on roadways, as they frequently have different braking, signaling and turning radii than passenger vehicles and may have difficulty seeing cyclists.
  • Leave no trace of trash, use the bathroom before your ride and don't hog the road, as even the quietest of backcountry county roads is someone's main street.

I'd also like to extend a huge thank you to the CAA for making our Moots — Colorado Ranch Rally event something locals and visitors alike look forward to each year.  Our sense of community, like our awesome local ag products and sweet Moots titanium bikes, can't be outsourced, either.

Matthew Alford is director of international Sales for Moots.