Somewhere back in the 1980s, I went through a Queen phase. No, I wasn’t infatuated with the Queen of England, nor was I into chess. It was the band out of England, and I enjoyed their take on rock ’n’ roll, occasionally poking fun at the world, their entertaining lyrics and lead singer Freddie Mercury had such a unique and passionate voice that the group pulled me right in.
So around 1985, at a neighborhood garage sale, I found a 45 RPM record (for those of you who are not old enough, these smaller-sized records had one song on each side and required some necessary plastic adapter that always went missing) of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “Bicycle Race.” Tame by today’s musical “standards,” Freddie serenaded us with lyrics such as “Fat-bottomed girls, they’ll be riding today/So look out for those beauties, oh yeah,” and “I don’t believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein or Superman/All I want to do is bicycle ...”
Mind-blowing stuff, right?
Not sure what happened to that 45, or the ones by Twisted Sister, Mötley Crüe or Bonnie Tyler (Don’t judge; I liked the movie “Footloose.”), but one never forgets a song about booties on bike seats. And perhaps that’s why I’ve always enjoying putting on our own bike “race” – the Tour de Farms.
Organized by The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado and CSU Extension, the first incarnation of this ride was back in 2007, and we have put one on ever since. It’s actually two rides – one in-town (short) and one out-of-town (long, by my standards). Over the years, both have visited dozens of farms, ranches, home gardens, school and community gardens and greenhouses. We have seen bees, goats, sheep, pigs, cows, fish and even the occasional townie chicken.
I’ve always been lucky enough to lead the in-town ride and have fond memories of my (then) 4 year-old son struggling to peddle his 25-pound bike up the hill to Manna Soup Kitchen. And now, six years later, he and his sister have only missed one year of the ride.
I love visiting the backyards of expert growers such as Rachel Turiel; Katie Burford and Josh Stephenson; and Michael Rendon. I get sentimental seeing how proud the kids are when they show off the ‘Southside Community Garden’ or the Needham Elementary Garden. And I’m constantly amazed to see how places such as Manna and the Ohana Kuleana Community Garden have grown such amazing gardens with such crappy soil (and very little money).
One of these days I will go on the long ride. In retrospect, I should go this year. They will be visiting young farmers such as Linley Dixon of Adobe House Farms and Tom Markel of 550 Farms; they get to walk the gardens and grounds of the magical James Ranch; and as an added bonus, get to check out a couple of backyard gardens on County Road 203, including the Eden of Becky and Tim Turner.
If you want to join me, I would love to have you. But you can’t dilly-dally, as there are only 40 spots on each ride, and I can’t remember a year when it didn’t sell out. But I will promise you a good time, a good laugh and hopefully some inspiration. And who knows, if you listen closely, you may hear me humming a few bars of one of those random Queen songs.
Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6464.