Cycling Event Promoting Local Agriculture Returns to OC
WARWICK—This year’s weather could not have been more opposite or better than last year’s for the Hudson Valley Farm to Fork Fondo, with blue skies, sun, and not a drop in the sky.
Last year cyclists were treated to a cat-and-dog-like downpour at the 9:00 a.m. start, and the event was pushed to 9:30 a.m. in the hopes the rain would subside. It never did.
The turnout was also better this year, which could have been in part because of the weather, said organizer Tyler Wren.
Last year he estimated there were around 400 cyclists who showed up, and this year there were closer to 600, with riders coming in from over 25 states and at least two other countries, he said.
The rides, which were non-competitive, ranged from 12 to 87 miles long and included stops at farms in Goshen, Warwick, Mount Hope, and Westtown and in Vernon, New Jersey where refreshment stations were set up with locally-made food.
Wren, a retired professional cyclist, started the ride as a way to promote local farms and raise awareness about the disappearing countryside that cyclists so enjoy.
“It’s really important for us as cyclists to support the local farmers because not only do they make great food that makes us healthier people and better riders, they’re the ones who maintain the beautiful roads that we like to ride on,” he said at last year’s Fondo which started at Cedar Lakes Estates in Greenville.
This year he chose to hold the event at Pennings Market Farm in Warwick, which just completed a new Dutch barn devoted to the cidery.
Owner Steve Pennings said he was approached last year by Wren to be part of the Fondo, but his farm was too far out of the cyclists route last year, so Wren promised him he would try to involve him this year.
“Little did I know he was going to involve us to the point of hosting it,” Pennings said with a laugh.
Wren said he liked having the event hosted on a farm because it gave a “more authentic farm experience,” and he hoped to host it there again next year. After the ride, the farm held a barbecue in the cidery with vendors and kids activities scheduled into the evening.
In addition to raising awareness about logal agriculture, the event also raised over $3,000 for organizations like the Sanctuary for Animals in Warwick, the Warwick Historical Society, the Orange County Land Trust, and the Vernon Township Woman’s Club from New Jersey.
The event was put on by Wrenegade Sports, an event company Wren started in 2013 with the mission to “whip up perfect combinations of health, social good, community and fun into unique and awesome events.”
The Rennassalier-based company also puts on Fondos in Maine, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, and Wren said last year he would like to have them all over the country.
For the foreseeable future he plans to keep doing it in the Hudson Valley, and is already thinking about expanding it. Next year he hopes to get up to 1,000 riders.
“People were raving about the beauty of the black dirt in the area,” he said. “They really loved it and I think they’ll want to come back.”
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