BRATTLEBORO >> Cyclists from at least 13 states will participate in the Tour de Heifer, the cycling event on Strolling of the Heifers Weekend, taking place on Sunday, June 5.
Organized as a fundraiser for the Stroll, the Tour features 15, 30 and 60 mile rides that all begin and end at Lilac Ridge Farm in West Brattleboro.
"The 15-miler includes some pavement and not too much in the way of hills," said Hanna Thurber, Tour organizer. "We call that the Country Ride, and it can be done by riders without too much experience who are in good shape."
But the 30-miler and 60-miler, Thurber explained, are nearly all on dirt roads and involve lots of hills: a total of 3,300 vertical feet for the 30-miler, and nearly 7,000 feet for the 60-miler.
"That's why it has been called Vermont's most challenging dirt road cycling rides," Thurber said. "And we have lots of riders who like a challenge!"
So far, the Tour has signed up riders from all over New England, plus New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois and New Mexico.
All of the rides include a great, farm-fresh lunch served at Lilac Ridge Farm. For the 60-milers, there are snacks midway at the Green River bridge.
New this year, the Tour chef, Tristan Toleno of Entera Catering and Rigani Pizza, is bringing his ferociously hot wood-fired oven, and will be cooking up pizzas from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
And Brattleboro's purveyor of Belgian-inspired ales, Hermit Thrush Brewery, will be on hand to offer samples as well as drafts for sale.
During lunch at Lilac Ridge, riders will be entertained by the duo of Alan Greenleaf and the Doctor (with their perennial favorite, "The Heifers are Coming to Town!").
All of the routes feature incredible views, farm and woodland terrain and New England villages (including one with a covered bridge).
The 60-mile ride has two short woods road sections. Both the 30 and 60-mile challenges are loop rides with shortcuts available for bailing out, or creating a hybrid ride of intermediate length.
For families and people who love to walk, the Tour also offers a three-mile guided hike to the top of nearby Round Mountain.
The tour is part of the annual Strolling of the Heifers Weekend, which takes place June 3-5 in Brattleboro. The centerpieces of the weekend are the world-famous Strolling of the Heifers Parade and the Slow Living Expo, both on Saturday, June 4. The Tour is made possible through sponsorship from Stroll Weekend Key Sponsor Merchants Bank; many other sponsors and donors of food and services, and the support of area cycling shops including Burrows Specialized Sports, West Hill Shop and Bicycles Unlimited.
Proceeds from the Tour de Heifer will support the Stroll's new Windham Grows program, a virtual as well as physical business hatchery focused on the food and agriculture sector in Southeastern Vermont. In collaboration with state and regional partners, Windham Grows will build the food and agriculture business sector in Windham County by connecting startup and early-stage businesses with critical services, resources and financing.
All of the Tour de Heifer routes include substantial stretches of dirt roads. Use of mountain bikes, cross-bikes, or road bikes fitted with 28mm knobby tires is recommended. No highway travel is involved in any of the routes.
The routes are:
1. Heifer Classic 60+ mile Ride: A very challenging ride for experienced riders, which starts at 8 a.m. (Slower riders are encouraged to start as early as 7 a.m.) This route has nearly 7,000 feet of elevation gain, and minimal pavement.
2. The 30-mile Green River Challenge: A challenging ride for experienced riders, starting at 9 a.m. It has about 3,300 feet of elevation gain, and minimal pavement.
3. The 15-mile Country Ride: This is an out-and-back ride, starting at 10 a.m., designed for families with moderately experienced cyclists. It includes about 1,250 feet of elevation gain over a mix of rolling paved roads and nearly level dirt roads along the Green River.
4. For walkers: 3-mile Road and Trail Stroll: The guided hike starts at 10:30 a.m., from Lilac Ridge Farm to the top of nearby Round Mountain, and then back via Ames Hill Road and Abbot Road. The climb to the summit is about 750 vertical feet and is rewarded by scenic vistas to the east, across the town of Brattleboro to Mt. Wantastiquet and Mt. Monadnock.
Registration and information: Riders and hikers may register for the Tour at www.bikereg.com/tourdeheifer. Rates, lunch included, are $20 for the hike, $35 for the Country Ride, and $60 for 30 and 60-mile options. Children 16 and under riding on any route, $15. Higher rates will be in effect on the day of the event.
If you have questions, contact the Tour Coordinator, Hanna Thurber, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 802-380-0502.
For information on all Stroll Weekend events, visit www.StrollingoftheHeifers.com.