A crisp, bright morning; so fresh and bright that you can’t help but take a big breath in, outstretch your arms and greet the morning with a gusto that you don’t normally have when the alarm goes off at 6am on a weekday.
This past weekend I chose to live for the weekend in Hudson Valley NY for a 56 mile destination ride. The Farm to Fork Fondo. A beautiful marriage of my appreciation for food from the ground and the blissful challenge of conquering miles and miles of rolling hills and beautiful scenery on two wheels.
The Farm to Fork Fondo is held in a handful of locations in New England. It’s an organized ride where all the rest stops are at local farms who hand prepare special treats for you to enjoy using their crops’ ingredients. This one was held at a Pennings Farm and cidery in Warwick, NY.
The scenery was breath taking. Parts reminded me of Arkansas and the early morning 30 mile rides I used to take by myself every Saturday where I’d get out of town, come home exhausted and then shuffle up to the farmers market with my roommate for some fresh finds. Only this ride combined the two into one. Brilliant!
At the start, off we went in a pack of 500, boosted along by the prospect of sticking with the pack and using the energy and draft of the group to get over those first jutting and challenging hills. But after a while somehow the pack always spreads out and often times you find yourself completely isolated on the quiet farm land roads.
The first 15 miles were a quick 15.6 mph pace. I realized right away I didn't lube my bike fully (rookie mistake). That would hurt me and my pace in the long run. The first stop was a small shaded farm on a hillside down a quiet dirt road. They were boisterous and excited, handing out apple and strawberry turnovers, claiming they were “so fresh they could talk back to you”.
On down the road another 15 miles, pace dropping a bit, we stopped at an apple farm. They served straight up apples and peanut butter, apple cakes and crumbles. I am told they were delicious but I couldn’t stomach the desserty stuff, I stuck to the fresh apples & PB. Amazing!
Just a quick 5 miles later we stopped at a creamery. So glad they weren't serving milk and ice cream on a hot day. They were serving pizza and crackers with a fresh block of cheese that looked like a butternut squash.
Another 8-10 miles, one big climb up Mt. Eve and arrived at a winery. They had mini quiches and samples of local alcoholic cider. The best part was a little girl handing out rags that were soaked in ice water..ahhhh..
The last and final stop was a local market and garden center serving apple cider doughnuts and strawberry rhubarb pie. James enjoyed it J.
The last and final stop was about 7-8 miles from the end (SO NOT THE 5 MILES they advertised when we were leaving the rest stop) I was exhausted, bonking, ready to be done, getting hangry. Once I crossed the line I immediately was happy again. I got my cowbell medal and slowly carried my bike up the hill and headed straight for celebratory fresh cider and a plate full of goodies.
The long drive home had me nodding off and on. A long day in the sun and a nice glass of cider will do that to you. But I will finish by saying this: I do have a renewed appreciation for the simple yet challenging life of farmers. We don’t often think of where our food comes from, but when you put smiling faces to it and taste the creations they produce (especially when they are well earned creations) it’s really hard to venture too far from the local produce aisle..though I still do J.
Till we meet again – story time is over.