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Gourmet farm to table cycling event series featuring aid stations on local farms. Inspired by the Italian gran fondo bicycle ride.

Ambassador Blog

Riding in the Rain - Farm to Fork Fondo - Finger Lakes

Rachael Balinski

This year, the Farm to Fork Fondo – Finger Lakes was a wet one! Although I admit to dreading being soaked for several hours, the event reminded me that there is something special about riding in the rain and it turned out to be a great day!

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There are several things to consider when riding in the rain to ensure that it is still an enjoyable experience for you and anyone that you are riding with. For instance, if you are riding with others, you should mount fenders to your bike – and you should also add an extender at the bottom of the rear fender. It should be as close to the ground as possible to prevent water and grit from splashing into other riders’ faces. An extender could be made from an old water bottle or using an “Ass Saver” such as those sold in the Farm to Fork Fondo store. If you’re riding alone and it’s not too rainy, you can just use an “Ass Saver” on your saddle to prevent a line of mud being painted from your shorts to the top of your jersey.

Thicker tires with lower tire pressure should be used because of extra debris on the road. If you do a lot of riding in the rain, like I did when I lived in Vancouver, consider using a cyclocross bike if you have the means. Furthermore, carbon braking surfaces on wheels don’t work as well as aluminum in the rain so save your carbon wheels for nicer weather if possible.

In terms of your attire, of course you know to wear waterproof jackets and gloves. However, I’d say the most important thing is to wear shoe covers. You can even wrap your feet (over your socks) in plastic bags before putting your feet in your shoes for extra protection from the rain. After the ride, dry your shoes by putting newspaper inside of them to absorb the water overnight.

During the ride, avoid patches of oil which look like rainbows and don’t corner through the center of the road where patches of oil are likely to be. Try to be careful of riding over manhole covers or leaves which are slippery when wet. Do not ride through puddles which may be deeper than they appear. Lastly, steer clear of the very edge of the road where there will be a buildup of debris.

One thing that I often forget to do is to eat and drink enough while riding in the rain. Fortunately, at the Farm to Fork Fondo events you will be remined as stop at all the aid stations on the way!

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After riding, the first thing you should do is change your clothes immediately. Use a towel and wet wipes until you can get yourself home to have a shower. Then, make sure to clean and dry your bike chain. Later on, you can clean your bike fully so it’s ready for your next ride!


Farm to Fork Fondo - Pennsylvania Dutch

Rachael Balinski

Sweat was running down my face and it was only 8 AM. Good news was I wouldn’t need a jacket. Bad news was I hadn’t started riding and I was already guzzling water trying to keep up with the long and hot day ahead. As my teammate, JB and I rolled out of beautiful Wyebrook Farm through the shady side roads we were nearly giddy with excitement about the route ahead. We knew it would be hot but you can’t help but get excited to line up for a Farm to Fork Fondo, knowing that every dozen or so miles, a farm stop was waiting for you. First it was quinoa pudding with almonds and blackberries at Wanner’s Pride-N-Joy Farm, followed up by arguably the earliest bowl of ice cream either of us had ever had at Lapp Valley Dairy Farm.  We rolled out, wondering how long we should have waited to let the Black Raspberry scoop settle in our stomachs, but it was too late as we were on to the next one, enjoying the brief moments of shade along the way.

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Each stop offered countless delicious treats, from cider donuts, to artisan cheese, to gazpacho, goat sliders, and more. It also offered us a chance to speak with the wonderful volunteers at each stop. We found common ground with the volunteers from Field of Hope who were raising money for families facing unexpected medical expenses, a cause near and dear to our hearts with our own charity, Team I Hate Cancer. We can’t forget the enthusiasm from the folks from Team Blue who turned Conebella Farm into an island retreat. They even had watermelon. We had been dreaming of watermelon.

We enjoyed the camaraderie of our fellow riders, who at each stop grew quieter, with the summer sun taking its toll. We met riders with whom we shared dozens of mutual friends with whom we somehow had never crossed paths. We traded stories with former NY Rangers great, Mike Richter, an avid cyclist and an ardent supporter of the outdoors. We traded supportive words with strangers as they muscled their bikes up a few of the steeper pitches. But mostly we just took in the scenery. By the time the ride was done, I was spent. JB looked fresher, and reminded me that his cocktail of 1 part energy drink and 1 part Maple Water was the key to success. I couldn’t argue with him. I hadn’t followed his regimen and I paid the price. I’ll certainly be back for more; I just hope it’s a little cooler next time.

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Get 10% off your registration at any 2018 Farm to Fork Fondo event with Mike's Official Ambassador discount code 'TIHC18'

Will Ride for Food

Rachael Balinski

People ask me what my training plan looks like now that I’ve retired from Olympic competition.  I tell them that I’m on the Don’t Get Fat Plan. They think I’m kidding.

I’m not kidding.

I am extremely food-motivated.  I always have been. From the age of 16, when I set my sights on the Olympics and began training twice a day, I have fantasized about my post-workout coffee and muffin.  It was my morning ritual, so ingrained that it wasn’t long before the barista at my neighborhood cafe, The Ithaca Bakery, began making my order in advance so that it was ready and waiting for me by the time I reached the front of the line.  I bore my hard-earned prize triumphantly from the counter to a nearby table and blissfully dissected the muffin as I perused the morning paper.

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Sometimes the thought of that coffee and muffin was the only thing that got me through a hard workout.

Looking back, I wonder whether I rowed so that I would enjoy breakfast, or enjoyed breakfast so that I would row.  I suspect it’s some combination of the two. They’re symbiotic, you see: without the workout, the treat is an unjustified indulgence; and without the treat, the workout is a joyless chore.

These days, I’m wont to combine my workout and my treat into a seamlessly integrated adventure.  For example, last week I made a 40-mile pilgrimage to the location of the first Dunkin Donuts store, in Quincy, MA.  The donut I had was no different from the one I can get at the Dunkin location just down the street, but the fact that I rode for hours to get there made it that much sweeter.  Moreover, now I can say that I’ve been to the original Dunkin.

The epitome of the epicurian adventure is, of course, the Farm to Fork Fondo.  If you join me on a ride this year, I guarantee you’ll find that the ride is shorter for the farm-fresh food along the way, and the food is more delicious when it is hard-earned.  Whether it’s apple turnovers in Vermont or goat-milk cheesecake in the Finger Lakes, you will have never tasted treats so good.

And the best part?  After all that riding, you won’t feel one bit guilty about gorging yourself.

-- Caryn Davies

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Farm to Fork Fondo - What's All the Hype About?

Rachael Balinski

I'm excited to be participating in the Farm To Fork Fondo--Pennsylvania Dutch for the third year in row. My first Farm To Fork Fondo was my very first organized ride and first time riding on roads instead of dedicated bike paths. Last year I added a few more organized rides to my schedule--including my first century ride--but none were as special as my Farm To Fork Fondo experiences.

Let's face it, the scenery is hard to beat.

My first Fondo--I'm the one on the right.

My first Fondo--I'm the one on the right.

And there's no better fuel than orchard-fresh cider and peaches,

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dairy-fresh ice cream,

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and whoopie pies! 

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The Farm To Fork Fondo--Pennsylvania Dutch route has a "moderate" difficulty rating which, for a casual cyclist like me, means hills worth training for. Although I made it up all the hills my first year without hill conditioning, I felt much stronger last year after becoming a regular on a local bike shop's weekly hill ride. Since the event is a month earlier this year I might not be quite as ready as I was last year, but I'm committed to participating in at least a few hill rides between now and the end of June. 

Aside from weekend rides, the only other "cycling" I do is a weekly indoor cycling class. I know some cyclists don't think indoor cycling "counts," but I've found that the right type of class really can improve my conditioning. I have a favorite instructor who includes a combination of tough climbs and speed intervals in her programs that make me a stronger rider when I get on my bike. Plus, on a stationary bike I can ride as hard as my legs will let me, without holding back for fear of encountering "traffic" on the bike path.  

I'll be doing the Medio Fondo, which is about 50 miles. While that distance is longer than my usual weekend rides, it's not so long that I won't be able to enjoy the day. When deciding which distance to do, it's important to remember that you will want to spend time at the Farm Stop Aid Stations. I may not linger at each of the five stops, but I will take my time at a few of them to meet the hosts, chat with the volunteers, and enjoy the refreshments. So, while I could cover 50 miles in about 3 hours, I expect to take at least 4 hours to complete the Medio Fondo--and will savor every moment! 


With all those Farm Stop Aid Stations, it's hard to imagine being hungry after the ride, but the great spread at the Post-Ride Farm to Fork Barbecue always is too good to resist. Plus, it's a great time to relax, enjoy live music, and chat with other riders--and congratulate each other on such a great ride. 

I’m looking forward to it already!



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