Last year we participated in the inaugural Pennsylvania Dutch Farm To Fork Fondo, and enjoyed it so much that we signed up for the 2017 event during the early registration period. There are no words for the beauty of the route that takes you deep into Lancaster farm country, and while I had a few choice words for some of the hills last year, this year I was able to tell them off.
Can you see my husband at the bottom of the hill?
For our second time, we did a lot of things the same and a few things differently. One thing that will never change is my support of the Farm to Fork Fondo’s mission of bringing cyclists and farmers together and supporting local farms.
Farm To Fork Fondo: The Friday Before
Like last year, we took Friday off so we could drive up early. Unlike last year, we left after lunch, which might not have been a terrible decision if our drive hadn’t coincided with the track of the torrential rain heading northeast. The 2 1/2 hour drive took 3 1/2 tense hours, but by the time we got to Lancaster, the rain had lightened considerably.
We checked into the quaint Manor View Inn, and I took a nap on the four-poster bed while for once it was my husband who was triaging work emails. At 5:30, I roused myself for packet pick-up across the road at the Country Barn, and we spent so long shopping the gear that we missed the Bianchi pro riders clinic and had just enough time to get ready for the Farmer’s Dinner.
We all sat at a looooong table for the Farmer’s Dinner
Like last year, the dinner was held in the lovely restored loft of the Country Barn. We were treated to a feast that used both locally grown foods–including potatoes picked from the fields outside–and Colavita pasta and olive oil products. We met some of our fellow riders, enjoyed some local wine, and ambled back across the road to our room to turn in for a good night’s sleep.
Although I heard the rain all night, I trusted the Weather App’s prediction that the rain would stop by 8:00 am–just in time for the 8:30 start. While it was still drizzling when the roosters woke us up at 6 am, the skies were dry by the time I headed across the road at 7:30 to get some coffee from Cycle Works, a bike shop/coffee shop in Lancaster and Farm To Fork Fondo sponsor. (The Manor View Inn served up a hearty breakfast, but coffee is not their forte!)
2017 Farm To Fork Fondo Recap
After I had filled my belly with french toast and my husband had filled our bike tires with the proper air pressure, we took our bikes across the road to the starting area. While we didn’t need help, there were professional bike mechanics on hand, plenty of snacks (from Cliff bars to Gu waffles to Maple Hill Creamery drinkable yogurt), and water stations for filling your water bottles.
I had to pose with the tractor!
After a few announcements and a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, Tyler Wren (founder of Wrenegade Sports and the Farm to Fork Fondo series) started up the tractor and led us out. We were doing the Medio (green) route again, but it was 52 miles this year (down from 67 last year).
Although the first stop was only about 10 miles in, I was ready for a break–and an orchard fresh peach from Cherry Hill Orchards.
The second stop was harder earned, coming 20+ miles in. I was a bit confused when we got there because the Lil’ Country Store & Miniature Horse Farm was our third stop last year, but realized that the route change had cut Riehl’s Family Farm from the Medio route.
The terrain up until then was mostly rolling hills, but I knew some tough climbs were coming soon, so I was glad to see the fresh-made whoopie pies among the offerings. I also enjoyed the fresh lemonade, and decided to replace the water in my water bottle with the rest of my serving.
it was very patient with everyone taking pictures!
The next stop was my favorite stop last year and this year–who wouldn’t love dairy fresh ice cream from Pine View Dairy?
I let this cow use my arm as a salt lick to thank it for the ice cream!
Soon after Pine View Dairy there was a metal bridge we were advised to walk our bikes across. Since we were off our bikes anyway, I convinced my husband to take a selfie.
Just after the bridge was another steep climb that I remember struggling up last year, but was able to power up this year–albeit in a very low gear.
Our final stop was at Roher Dairy Farms. Since we just had ice cream a few miles ago, I wasn’t planning on snacking, but they had skewers of locally grown grape tomatoes and their own mozzarella cheese, so I couldn’t resist!
The final miles of the course were exactly as I remembered them, but I felt much stronger this year, and enjoyed the final set of rolling hills instead of cursing every incline. Granted, last year’s course was 10 miles longer, but I don’t think my leg muscles were anywhere near threatening to cramp up this year, although I did feel some achiness in my hips and lower back. Still, I was ready to be done when I spotted the “1 more mile” sign, and happy to finish side-by-side with my husband.
Also, a 2440 foot elevation climb!
As if we hadn’t eaten enough already, we partook in the post-ride barbecue buffet back at the Country Barn. My husband enjoyed a pulled pork sandwich while I enjoyed the barbecue chicken, and we both enjoyed the potato salad made with Farmer Jim’s potatoes. After we had our fill, we went back to our room to shower and pack up for the drive home–thankfully free of rain storms this time!
In case you want to see more, I made a Relive video of our ride. It’s worth watching to see where we missed a sign and repeated a 5 mile loop–luckily one that did not have any killer hills!
Have you had a time when your training led to a breakthrough?