Cycle to Farm
by Derek Long
The cycle to farm metric century, which is really 62 miles, but sounds more impressive when you say 100 kilometers, begins and ends in black mountain and takes riders through the scenic back roads of Buncombe and McDowell counties. Though the ride may be bucolic, it will test your stamina says organizer Jennifer Caldwell-Billstrom, “The route for cycle to farm is a challenging route, we will cover 42 hundred feet of elevation gain, and we will cross the eastern continental divide three times.”
Folks come from all over to participate says Billstrom, “there's people coming from eleven different states and we have folks who are very avid road cyclists, and we have folks who are going to be riding mountain bikes, so there's a very wide variety of people out there.”
Avid biker Michelle McClendon and her partner from Tryon saw it as an opportunity to explore new territory, “ we love to ride bikes and so we just thought it'd be a really neat weekend thing to do.”
Local Black Mountain resident Shay Parker saw it as a great way to get back into biking, “I've probably never ridden more than ten miles in my whole life and so I started doing the training rides with Jennifer and David. I was a little worried about my bike because it's about 20 years olds and I didn't buy anything new I'm just winging it with what I have.”
Before the ride begins participants are treated to fresh coffee from local roaster, Dynamic Coffee, and sweet potato cakes from New Sprout Farms. So before they even begin says Billstrom, “the riders will get to have a little taste of the first farm.”
The well organized event provides a local bike mechanic from Liberty Bikes is on hand for riders to make any last minute adjustments as well as Certified yoga instructors to get you warmed up and ready to go and they are also on hand at the end of the ride as well. In addition there are plenty of volunteers to assist and guide riders along the route.
While Billstrom encourages folks to train for this ride and offers training rides for folks in the area, some like Ron Larson and his wife Linda are counting on the groups good vibes for assistance, “What we're counting on is that, you know, though we haven't trained physically that the whole spirit of it is going to going to get us through it.”
The spirit of the event is evident in the purpose of the ride, which is to raise awareness of both local foods, and to raise money for our greenways in Black Mountain. The inspiration for the ride says Billistrom, is the route, “Its just beautiful farm country that we're going to be passing through. I think there are many rides that are extremely challenging and those rides are a lot of fun to participate in. This ride is a little bit different in that it will be challenging yet you will feel pampered because you will get to taste so many nice local foods and experience such a wonderful route in such a well supported ride.”
There were four stops on this ride with five local growers presenting their products from vegetables, meats, cheeses and poultry offering riders an opportunity to take a break every ten to fifteen miles, get refueled with water and samples from the farmers. Riders can also purchase items at the stops and have them delivered and waiting for them at the end of the ride.
“I enjoyed taking a nice break every couple of miles,” says Brook Saucier from Tryon, “it made the ride a lot more enjoyable than just trying to race through it the whole time.” Riding partner Michelle McCleandon added, “Beautiful ride, nice challenging hills but very scenic. It was nice to stop at all the farms and get a taste of things and everyone was so friendly and happy. We bought food at every farm so we’ll have a gourmet meal when we get back.”
I was happy to see Shay Parker roll up on her twenty year old bike, “It was really wonderful,” she said, “it was a beautiful day and you know there was a lot of camaraderie on the course and you kind of meet new people and it was wonderful”
And the end of the ride was just the beginning of the after party, with delicious local food, music, and newfound friends. “Black Mountain is just a wonderful place to start and end,” exclaimed Paul Weathersby from Atlanta, “the course is rigorous, but it's beautiful riding and its well organized. I'd definitely do it again.”
So would I. If you’d like to go, find out about their upcoming rides at www.cycletofarm.org.