To the farms through the town

Fred McCormick

For the last four years, Cycle To Farm has taken riders on a 63-mile tour along the Broad River and through beautiful countryside in Fairview dotted with farmland.

But this year, the town of Black Mountain will play a big role in the event. The event held July 16 in this, its fifth year, has raised nearly $13,000 for the town’s greenways.

This year the ride will start in the center of downtown Black Mountain. Upon their return, riders will be treated to a special concert, event organizer Velo Girl Rides said in a press release earlier this month. Proceeds once again will benefit the Black Mountain greenways.

Jennifer Billstrom, who started Cycle To Farm in 2010 and has since organized the event in several cities, believes the new location is ideal for registration, the race start and finish and for sponsor tents.

“It’s really a great fit for us,” she said. “We’re taking advantage of the heart of town. It’s an exciting change.”

When the riders return from their rolling tour, in which they are treated to samples of locally grown food on each stop, they will be received with a concert at White Horse Black Mountain, where one of the event’s original sponsors will serve beer.

“This is the fifth year New Belgium Brewing has sponsored us, and with the new location we needed somewhere that would allow them to serve beer at the party,” she said. “We talked to the folks at the White Horse, and they were happy to get involved.”

Billstrom believes there will be additional benefits to holding the start and finish of this year’s Cycle To Farm in town as well.

“It will be really easy to go in town and shop, especially for spectators,” she said. “They can see their rider off in the morning and (then have) something to do. Many of them may want to do some shopping in town, and it’s so convenient.”

Billstrom expects about 300 cyclists again this year for the tour, many of whom will come from out of town. Her research indicates that the economic impact throughout the event’s four-year history in Black Mountain is about $273,000. The majority of that money comes from lodging, food, gifts and purchases riders make while stopped at the farms.

Cycle To Farm also announced changes to its Sandy Mush race on Oct. 1. The Asheville event will start and finish at the New Belgium Brewery tasting room, scheduled to open later this year.

“That is a dream that we have shared with New Belgium since we first created our relationship with them,” Billstrom said. “That route will change a little bit, but we still get to use a number of the same stops and most of the old route.”