A fundraiser for the Upper Valley Trails Alliance.
For many that regularly take part in distance bicycling, nothing enhances a great ride more than great food. If you’ve ever been to the Richmond School after The Prouty, or to the Harpoon Brewery after the Point to Point ride, you know what I mean. This Sunday, September 10, another great bike and food event happens; the Tour de Taste, organized by the Upper Valley Trails Alliance (UVTA).
In its 11th year, the Tour de Taste is an annual fundraiser for the Norwich based trails organization, says Laura Romig, program manager for the UVTA. With the assistance of 40 to 45 volunteers, Romig organizes, coordinates, and carries out the event, which hosts anywhere from 350 to 450 bike and food enthusiasts each year. Besides the volunteers and riders, many local restaurants and farms play a crucial role in the success of the event.
Riders taking part in this event have three different rides to choose from; a shorter six mile course around Lake Morey in Fairlee (“Great for families,” says Romig), the “Classic Loop” which is a 21 mile ride running through Fairlee, Thetford, Lyme and Orford, and an extension of the Classic Loop which adds 10 additional miles by including a stretch on the River Road. All the rides start, and finish at the Samuel Morey Elementary School in Fairlee.
The thought behind starting this event was relatively simple; “The idea was to do a bike and food event featuring local foods, and being outdoors,” says Romig. As a result, the food stations set up along the various routes are outdoors, and easily accessible to the bikers. Local homeowners host some of the food stations on their properties, while other food stops are at area businesses, including the Lyme Inn, Cedar Circle Farm in Thetford, and the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee.
The food provided to the riders at these stops is prepared by area restaurants, or comes from local farms. King Arthur provides food, as do many restaurants including Lou’s from Hanover, Ariana’s of Orford, and Carpenter & Main of Norwich. All bring a delectable array of offerings for the riders to enjoy. Many of the restaurants offering food to riders have taken part in this event in the past, though new this year to the event are Piecemeal Pies of WRJ, Poverty Lane Orchards, and Thistle Hill Farm of North Pomfret. Also new this year is music, and ice cream at the ride’s finish at the Morey School.
Riders pay a fee to take part in the event. In addition to the riders’ fees, Romig says several event sponsors also contribute financially. “We raise, on average, $13,000 to $15,000,” says Romig. This makes the Tour de Taste the largest fundraiser for the UVTA for the year. Money raised goes to fund trail maintenance work, and UVTA educational programs, Romig says. Two trail projects they are currently working on include extending the mountain bike portion of the King Arthur Trail, and a new section of trail on Wright’s Mountain in Bradford, VT.
As is true with most events of this type, a good crew of volunteers is key in the event’s success. Laura Romig says her volunteers help with a wide range of tasks, including registration, and working at the food stops. She adds that some of the Tour de Taste volunteers are veterans of the event, having volunteered many times. “The volunteers are the best,” says Romig.
With 350 or more bicyclists on the roads, proper coordination and organization efforts are critical. Romig says she is in contact with the police officials in the various towns involved, and extensive signage is installed for the ride, keeping riders going in the proper direction. She adds that volunteers are on the courses in vehicles if any bicyclists encounter difficulties, and staff from Omer and Bob’s are on hand to assist cyclists with any mechanical issues.
For anyone interested in taking part in this year’s Tour de Taste, Laura Romig says you should register by Saturday morning, September 9. The ride begins Sunday morning at the Samuel Morey Elementary School in Fairlee, with riders needing to be on the road by 11am. For more information, or to register, go to the UVTA’s website at uvtrails.org.