This weekend, I did the Farm to Fork Fondo in Pennsylvania. I did the medio distance, which is the green line on the map above. 66.66 miles in total, and four delicious farm stops, plus some amazing food at the end. I’m so glad Lauren suggested we ride (though she followed that crazy yellow line because she is nuts. And awesome.
This ride was absolutely amazing and also incredibly, incredibly hard. This area of Pennsylvania isn’t known for being flat, so I knew it would be a challenge.
The event was incredibly well organized. There were plenty of cue sheets available and I though the course was really well marked (of course, of the three of us who went to the event together, two got lost, so maybe I’m the only one who thought so). There were riders of all levels at the start, and it was fun that so many of the distances started off together.
The big thing about this ride is the food, and specifically, the local food. We rode to different farms and had all sorts of local treats. The first stop had the most amazing peaches. They were delicious and perfect and clearly just off the trees. There were also whoopie pies, ice creams, meats and cheeses, pretzels, chips, and so much more. Plus standard race foods like Clif bars and gels. And the people were all so incredibly friendly.
One thing I appreciated was that all riders got wristbands in the color arrows they were supposed to follow, and on the wristband was the number for support, so if you needed help or just stopped and needed to be picked up, you could easily call.
The course was definitely challenging, probably more than I realized it would be. There were three pretty brutal hill climbs, all three of which I made it through part of, then stopped and walked the rest of the way because my heart was beating so fast. But I refused to turn my watch off while walking up the hill, so that’s included in my final pace. Forward motion gets timed.
There was one spot where we made a turn and had to go straight up a hill and it was such a mental challenge. A lot of people just stopped at the bottom and stared at the hill. It deserved respect, after all.
The last aid station was at mile 52, and the last 14 miles were definitely brutal. It was hot and hilly and I just wanted to be done. Those last 14 were a mental game, pure and simple, especially the last 5 or so.
My goal was to do this ride at a 14 minute mile average pace or faster. I made it through to mile 56 (70.3 distance) at that pace, but things dropped in the last 10 miles and I finished at a 13.8 pace. It was definitely a slog getting through those last miles, and I was so glad to be done and off my bike.
That said, the event was great and I will probably do it again next year. Yes, it was a huge physical challenge, but it was still a lot of fun and the food was delicious. Any ride that ends with a giant post-race meal and fabulous live music is okay in my book.