My bride and I had been planning a weekend away for months ever since the announcement that Velo Girl rides was organizing a first-ever Cycle to Farm event for the Greenville area. We saw this event and immediately lined up the kid sitters (thank God for grandparents) and signed up.
The Cycle to Farm concept will strike a chord with anyone who enjoys riding metric centuries and is a locavore foodie. It’s an organized charity ride with the “standard” SAG support and rest stops, plus samples from local farmers available to try and purchase. For us, what a great way to spend a Saturday!
We arrived to the start/finish point (Greenbrier Farms in Easley, SC) welcomed by lively music, friendly volunteers, and coffee and breakfast samples. We couldn’t make the packet pickup the night before at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe but at the event it was straightforward.
The last time we rode an “event” ride was a few years ago … and I got myself into hot water by wanting to chase down the pack and stay with faster riders. This year busywife gave “strict orders” to keep calm and just enjoy the ride, so like a good husband I listened …
And watched her take off from the start! (You’re sneaky my dear).
The first farm stop (Mill Village / Serenity Farm) was only a few miles in. As you would expect, there was quite the crowd as there hadn’t been enough distance to separate the group, but it wasn’t too crazy. Looking back, we might have spent more time there and bought some produce. But being only a couple miles in I think we were still looking ahead to the rest of the ride.
Some nice samples from Swamp Rabbit Cafe as well!
Next up was Hagood Mill at about mile 22. It was a nice atmosphere to roll into with bluegrass playing on the porch and a tasty cornbread / butter / honey sampling to enjoy.
From here was a large gap (about 35 miles) to the next farm. I think the event organizers heard about this one a lot as it was a specific question on the follow-up survey I received a few days after the ride. In retrospect I should have stopped at a convenience store to refuel or taken something with me from the last stop, as I was fighting off the bonk about halfway through this stretch.
Either way, the riding from Hagood Mill to Double Blessing Farm was beautiful. We rode some deserted back roads that I hadn’t ever seen before, with some challenging climbs and fun descents. We also passed by the Miracle Hill Children’s Home.
When we arrived at Double Blessing Farm I was somewhat surprised at how few riders we saw. I didn’t think we were especially fast, but maybe today we were just behind everyone? (I would find out later that the SAG support was especially busy … maybe the elevation gain and distance had caught some people off guard?)
At Double Blessing I wolfed down the best cookie I’ve ever tasted in my life (ok it was good, and it was huge, and it was chocolate chip and peanut butter, but I was also crazy hungry) got more fluids and started to feel better. I sampled their fudge (yum!) and a goat milk sorbet popsicle (a nice treat since it was getting so hot). We bought some of their soap (can’t wait to try it) and fudge as well. Sorry no pictures!
The last stretch back to Greenbrier was admittedly tough. I still was feeling the effects of bonking earlier, and the heat was also a factor. Add to that the fact that I took all the pulls and had underestimated busywife’s speed and endurance (she was pushing me along!). I was ready to be back.
We arrived at Greenbrier to a nicely executed after party. The usual fare for a metric is to end with burgers and chips or similar. We were treated to a “taco bar” setting with Greenbrier meats (beef / chicken / pork), beans, rice, some fantastic tortilla chips, lots of extras and (for a small fee) New Belgium beer. It was a bit hot to sit down and have a drink right after such a long ride, but we shared their wheat beer and it went nicely with the tacos.
We noticed a couple things after we settled in at Greenbrier … lots of cars were already gone, and the SAG vehicles kept streaming in with more riders. Looks like the ride did catch some people by surprise 🙂
I also need to give a shout out to my friend Elizabeth for being the first to arrive back at the farm! – check out her training blog at http://tri-ingforchina.blogspot.com/2014/06/cycle-to-farm.html
We finished off the weekend (mostly) relaxing at our favorite B&B, Sunrise Farm. I think this was our fourth stay with Julie and Jeff Pierce and we always enjoy their excellent accommodations and hospitality. Julie was even kind enough to make us a breakfast to go for the day of the ride, since we had to be “up and at ’em” at about 6am!
Sunrise Farm is a great place to stay for exploring the area for road bike rides, or hiking, or just about anything else on the SC Upstate mountains. I highly recommend them!
Sunday afternoon, on the way back to retrieve the kids from my parents place, we stopped at the Happy Berry in Six Mile (yeah I don’t know where that it is either) and feverishly picked a whole mess of blackberries before heading home. We were a little too early for the blueberries, but we’ll be back!
All in all a wonderful weekend spent with my beautiful bride. I was surprised that her limited bike training gave her the ability and endurance to complete this 70 mile ride with me – I won’t be surprised next time!
Proverbs 5:18 “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth”