Le Tour de Farms: Riding with a Full Belly between Summer and Fall

I felt utterly giddy this last Saturday to find myself standing in front of a feast of tomato samples, surrounded by hungry cyclists, under a pungent canopy of dried garlic on one of the last warm days of the year. Plates overflowed with enticing slices of ‘Green Zebra,’ a tomato with a crisp, sweet, and bright taste, ‘Jaune Flamme,’ an orange tomato as vibrant as a nasturtium blossom, and ‘Black Krim,’ a tomato with a potent, savory flavor.

This celestial, delicious scene took place at the Golden Russet farm in Shoreham, Vermont as part of this state’s greatest bicycle event, the ‘Tour de Farms’. I say that it is the greatest due to the high proportion of food samples to miles, and that we were blessed with the best of two seasons: the sleepy warmth, vivacious green pastures, and lingering floral scent of summertime, as well as the abundant apple harvests and transitional foliage of autumn.

The Tour de Farms is the four-year-old child of Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition, Rural Vermont, and the Addison County Re-Localization Network (ACoRN). The event is a fundraiser to keep Vermont’s agritourism alive and to celebrate farm and cycling culture. The event had quite a good turnout. Waves of cyclists departed by the hundreds at staggered start times, first for the 30 mile route, then the 22 mile route, and finally the more family friendly 10 mile route.

At the first stop, VT Trade Winds offered a veritable feast of maple products: maple candy, maple cream, maple granola, candied maple walnuts, and even chicken with a maple dry rub. Even after inhaling a handful of these sweet offerings, I was encouraged to try the farm’s darkest grade of syrup, which they call “a notch below B.”

The first half of the 30 mile loop was peppered with farm stops offering tastes of pears, blueberries, cider, sausages, and the aforementioned rainbow of tomatoes. At Champlain Orchards, I couldn’t help devouring half a dozen cider doughnuts hot out of the fryer. At the Shoreham Winery, I had my hands full with a slice of apple pie, a cup of fresh pressed grape juice, a cup of apple cider, and a few Honeycrisp apples.

Every incline and dip in the road presented a new idyllic scene, each miniature valley complete with a herd of cattle, a chapel, a barn, and a cemetery. The route curved near the lake, through the town of Orwell, and back up to the Shoreham green, where the Shoreham Apple Fest was taking place. I was able to collapse in a well-fed heap of tingling muscle in the grass at the end of the ride, coaxed into a state of delirium by the high volume of maple sugar in my veins and the intensity of sunlight on my face. Thank goodness for events such as this that cater to cyclists with hearty appetites.

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