The 2017 PA Dutch Farm To Fork Fondo

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.  

Farm To Fork Fondo

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). 

Farm To Fork Fondo Map

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. 

One of the miniature horses–
it was very patient with everyone taking pictures!
Two of the three steepest climbs came before the next stop. Last year, it took every ounce of strength I had–and then some–to make it to the top. This year, those hills still were hard and still left me out of breath, but I was ready for them. Those five times (but who’s counting?) I did the Conte’s bike shop hill ride really paid off.  Instead of having to coach myself up the hills with a simple mantra (don’t die!), I was able to encourage myself with a reminder that I trained for this. It was a great feeling to make it up the hills with confidence!

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! 

 

 

I felt like all the training I did for this ride really led to a breakthrough, which is today’s Wednesday Word. I was able to approach the hills with confidence, use my gears more skillfully, and finish the ride smiling.

Deb Runs Wednesday Word

Have you had a time when your training led to a breakthrough?

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30 Responses to The 2017 PA Dutch Farm To Fork Fondo

  1. Kimberly G says:

    Your recap makes me want to buy a bike and start training. What an awesome experience! Love that there were so many food options on the course as well, lol.

    I love your Relive video of the ride (is this not the coolest app ever?!).
    Kimberly G recently posted…August 2017 GoalsMy Profile

  2. Good thing you had all those miles to burn off the calories! This sounds so amazing!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…8 Ways to Cope When You Can’t RunMy Profile

  3. Fresh fruit, miniature ponies, and ice cream! This sounds like the best bike race ever! Very entertaining!

  4. Sounds like such a unique experience! I’d love to do it one year. All of those tough training rides paid off for sure.

  5. Laura says:

    Oh wow, trip down memory lane as this is where I grew up! I didn’t even know they offer this bike trip. Looks like so much fun!

  6. Congrats on your strong ride! You’ve been training hard fo those hills!! It looks like such a great event!
    Anna @ Pipers Run recently posted…July’s Mileage & August GoalsMy Profile

  7. Elle says:

    That all looks like so much fun! Glad you enjoyed it again this year.

  8. Chaitali says:

    That miniature horse is so cute! And it sounds like your training really paid off with the hills this year ๐Ÿ™‚
    Chaitali recently posted…Riley’s Rumble 8k 2017My Profile

  9. Great post! I want a miniature horse ๐Ÿ™‚ adorable.

  10. This looks like a grand adventure! I love those ‘breakthrough” times when you can feel how well all of your training has paid off. That’s how I feel upon completion of my Fight for Air Climbs ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…Road signs…are runners exempt?My Profile

  11. What? I’ve never heard of a fondo until now and now I want to do one! This sounds like such a fabulous event.

  12. That is so awesome that all that training paid off — it’s such a great feeling, isn’t it?

    And oh my that miniature horse is so cute. We once stayed at a B&B that was also a miniature horse farm in TX. I kind of want one . . .

    PA is darn hilly — you did great!
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…Does it feel like that breakthrough will never happen?My Profile

  13. Kristen says:

    This ride sounds awesome! If I’m ever at home in Reading visiting my family during this event I need to do it! Whoopie pies and ice cream in the middle of a ride sounds fantastic.

  14. What happens if you get “lost” in the peach orchard and refuse to leave? I would LOVE this experience! Great job conquering those hills.

  15. Jenn says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. This is awesome! I wish we had this near us!.
    Jenn recently posted…weekly wrap: 7.23.17 – 7.29.17My Profile

  16. Rachel says:

    This looks like so much fun!!! The cow is adorbs. <3
    Rachel recently posted…Sunglasses and Sunscreen: Sun Safety Tips for Summer ActivitiesMy Profile

  17. Great recap! Your post made me want to start cycling again. And eat peaches ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Karen Bayne says:

    ALl the greeeeen!It is so pretty. What a great feeling to be pumping up those hills feeling strong ๐Ÿ™‚ High five!
    I loved the relive!
    That is a fun one, all the eating and all the hills lol Your place you stayed was adorable too.

  19. Toni says:

    This looks like soo much fun! I love all the stops along the way!!! Hills are annoying, but sounds like you rocked them.

  20. What an absolutely beautiful area to ride around in, and take stops to enjoy all of that delicious food. Great finish time considering the stops and the hills! Will you guys be returning again next year?
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…August 2017 GoalsMy Profile

  21. Thank you so much for writing this recap. My husband and I are looking into some rides and it’s always fun to hear about ones we’ve missed. I remember you talking about this ride last year, but since I wasn’t into biking then, it didn’t mean as much to me. It sounds like you were much better trained this year. Way to go!

    Thanks, also, for linking up!
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…Tips To Aid In A Training BreakthroughMy Profile

  22. Lesley says:

    That fresh ice cream sounds wonderful. It sounds like all the training paid off! I know PA can be hilly, but you showed them who’s boss ๐Ÿ™‚

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