For those who missedgetting into the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa in the early days, now is your chance to jump on the saddle for a new legacy ride sure to grow and become an annual beloved event.

The Buffalo Soldiers Legacy Ride is coming to Iowa with events this weekend and June 14 to honor a nearly forgotten ground-breaking experimentled by Black American soldiers in the late 19th century. The challenge wasto determine whether newly designed bicycles featuring a chain drive and steerable front wheel could become an effective transportation tool in the United States Army.

This year is the 125th anniversary of the original Buffalo Soldier's bicycle ride from Ft. Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1897. The ride was developed to test the practicality of the new transportation tool.

The soldiers' original route didn't take them through Iowa at all, but that isn't stopping Cedar Rapids resident Larry Ritland from commemorating the amazing feat of the original 23men who accomplished the 1,900-mile mission.


Organizer is a late bloomer

Event organizer Larry Ritland, 74, said he is a late bloomer to long distance bicycling, but has fallen in love with the challenge.

"I didn't start bicycling until I was 67. And in 2016, when I was 68, I bicycled the Alaskan Highway 1,387 miles from Dawson Creek, British Columbiato Delta Junction, Alaska," Ritland said.

Ritland, who grew up on a family farm near Roland, loved that long ride so much he decided to add a new accomplishment to the tic marks on his handlebars.

In 2019, on the 100th anniversary of the American Legion, he biked across the country — 3,620 miles.

"I'm just out there living the dream," Ritland said about his bicycling enthusiasm.

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