I’ve been a little MIA for a while on the blog, but more generally for the last couple days as Brent and his parents (who seem willing to drive me to tarnation in order for me to bike up and down hills that we can’t find at home) have made the trip in their big fancy fifth wheel to New York State, mostly for the Farm to Fork Fondo. This is my first experience “glamping,” and I’ve managed to do a little thesis, eat some s’mores, ride my bike, and go shopping–so I call it a win.
The drive on Thursday and Friday was lovely and we had sunshine the whole way. We made a stop outside of Rochester for one night and then made the rest of the journey to Port Jervis, which is pretty close to where the start of the Fondo was. Unfortunately, the rain followed us and on Saturday, the day before the Fondo, we had to hide from the rain in a mall. The forecast was not looking good for Sunday, but we picked up our race packets and realized we were in for a treat of an event.
The venue for the fondo, Cedar Lakes Estates, was absolutely beautiful. Like, if you are getting married, you should do it here beautiful. No matter where you live or how far your grannie might have to drive to be there for it.
The swag bag was great, and probably the best one I’ve ever gotten. From a bag of pasta and some olive oil to my favourite flavour of Gu AND a women’s t-shirt with my favourite fondo logo yet in it, I was pretty happy with the decision to make the trip down for this!
The terrain, however, looked like a little much for the recreational rider. We’d planned on doing the “Piccolo Fondo” together as a group, but with the rain and the hills a little bigger than the fam jam anticipated, my company got smaller. We woke up on Sunday to rain and it didn’t clear so by the time the ride start (which was postponed 30 minutes) rolled around, I was scrambling to pump up my tires in time to start with the group of cyclists who decided to brave the wet roads.
I’m entirely aware that exercise should improve the quality of your life–not risk it–so I told myself I’d turn back if I felt unsafe. I didn’t! The ride was beautiful, and I can mean it honestly when I say that I enjoyed it the whole way. 35 miles is shorter than my normal, but I think I learned that perhaps I like not doing the Gran Fondo (100 mile) option. Maybe the Medio Fondo (more like a metric century of 100km) would be perfect for me–I’d get back in time to enjoy some of the food–one of the sponsors was Fine Cooking magazine and there was a spread of things that included all kinds of things from kale salad to fried chicken and some kind of southern style corn that blew my mind!
At the start, a man I started to chat about my reservations about riding hills in the rain assured me that the rain was nothing to worry about. Further, he put an end to my whining by telling me that we were already wet and might as well go. It’s true. The same thing happened at my half marathon a few years ago when I was bummed about the rain and a woman in the washroom told me “Once you’re wet, you’re wet!,” putting an end to my whining.
The hills were tough, and I was happy my lungs were cooperating even if my gearing was not (I could not get into the big chain ring, but I really didn’t want it THAT much). I have been using a puffer for some kind of allergies or asthma (?!) that I’m currently dealing with so I tried to focus on how grateful I was to be able to ride at all, even if I was soggy.
The first rest stop, at a farm, of course, was great. There were farm dogs–cute, hot chocolate and cornbread–yum, and a pro woman (there were a bunch riding with us from the Colavita / Bianchi team) told me to ride over the gravel that freaks me out instead of ruining my shoes–cool!
After the ride, I was greeted by a super friendly group of volunteers at a cute finish line. The “medal” was a spoon with “Farm to Fork Fondo 2015” engraved on it, which I thought was a nice touch! Like I said, the food was great and I was back early enough from my short ride to catch the event organizer, who I’d interviewed last year for a profile of the top fondos for Canadians in Canadian Cycling Magazine (a different event, but he nailed this one again!) briefly. I hope that he has better weather for the second Farm to Fork Fondo in Vermont on the 12th of July (unfortunately the same day as my Half Ironman debut!) because the only thing I can complain about was the weather.
If you’re on the hunt for a Gran Fondo to put on your radar, go with this one. Or it’s probably a safe bet that if it’s a Wrenegade Sports event, you’re going to be good to go. If you get a chance to come to this area of New York (Orange County), do it. Brent and I took off the afternoon of the Fondo for NYC and I was able to ride my bike in the morning and see Times Square by the evening. Not too shabby, and a fine way to take a break from my thesis for a few days.