Bike the Barns 2011 has come and gone!
And what an event it was!
This was the fifth year that MACSAC--the Madison Area CSA Coalition--has put on this day of bike-riding and good food to raise money for Partner Shares, a program that makes fresh, local produce available at reduced cost to low-income families in the Madison area.
We've been wanting to do this ride for a few years now, and finally made it this year, with the help of some friends and family who pledged money to help us. Thank you! We raised $200 with your help!
The day began with seeing lots of friends who were riding and volunteering at the start line, at Lake Ripley Park, east of Madison. It made the whole day sunny (at least metaphorically) to have such a warm community with us as we began. We made time for some bike maintenance and a breakfast of fresh pears, melon, and yogurt-waffle-fruit cups:
And then it was time to hop on the bikes to begin the 63 mile route through the Southern Wisconsin countryside!
Less than ten minutes into our ride, the rain began. And it continued, on and on, throughout pretty much the whole day. Cold, wet rain made the ride more difficult than we might've imagined. But we made it through our first 25 miles, strong and happy, ending up at the first stop, High Meadow Farm, where local apples, watermelon, Graze croissants, and Sassy Cow chocolate milk greeted us:
In the far right photo, you can see the water on our glasses, which was a pretty much constant companion throughout the ride: Still, big smiles!
By the time we'd biked another 20 miles to reach the second stop, at Wholesome Harvest, we were pretty exhausted (or, at least, I was!). Although I'd ridden more than this distance before (to Mt. Horeb and back), I'd never encountered such a hilly ride, and my bike and I definitely struggled up a number of hills with the mantra, "Just look down and go." It mostly worked. We ate delicious sandwiches and fresh grain and bean salads (the one on the right was the meat option, which we did not eat):
And felt grateful to all the sponsors and for all the delicious food, provided mostly by the Underground Food Collective's awesome chefs:
But after eating and sitting for a while, and continuing to stare out at the rain, we decided to abbreviate the ride a little bit, and forego the final stop, at Sprouting Acres. Partly, because we'd been there before (read that post here!), and partly because we felt like we had a good ten miles left in us, but might not enjoy a full 18-20 more. So, we took a short-cut back to Lake Ripley Park, following the Radish Route (the shorter bike ride that had happened concurrently) backwards. It was actually really fun to read the map and negotiate our choices together. A challenge met!
We arrived back to Lake Ripley just as the party was starting, in time to catch some good beer, good music, free massages, and more great food from the Underground Food Collective: Bean tacos with a spicy green salsa and a great mexican slaw.
We returned home, immediately changed out of our wet clothes, massaged our shoulders further, and felt so happy and grateful for a day full of exercise, great food, a better sense of our Wisconsin home, an increased appreciation for the countryside, and the wonderful support of our friends, both near and far.
Thanks to everyone who made the day possible!