The grass is wet from the previous night’s rain and gray clouds hang low in the sky when we step out of the car the morning of the first ever Peacham Fall Fondo. It’s not quite drizzling, but the air is damp and cold. Despite the chill, and lots of deliberation on exactly how many layers we’ll need, we’re excited for the ride. Just the drive up through Vermont has shown us spectacular fall colors, and we anticipate that the views from the bike will be even better.
And true enough, once we are dressed and checked in, and our numbers zip-tied to our handlebars, we start rolling and Vermont puts on her best display for us. We haven’t been riding as much the last few weeks, so we’re not as strong as we’d like, but none of it matters. Not the cold or the periodic drizzle, and not the grind up these New England rollers. We’re on our bikes, we’re riding with friends and other like-minded cyclists, and it’s all good.
One thing that really stood out was the graciousness of hosts Ian Boswell and Gretchen Kaija.
Ian is a professional road cyclist with a Tour de France and a number of other Grand Tour races under his belt. He decided to put on the Fondo as a way to give back to the community of Peacham, where he and Gretchen make their home. Ian could crush every rider at the Fondo with ease, but after leading out the start of the ride, he drifted back to ride and chat, making a point of connecting with the riders.
With Ian away in Europe for much of the year, Gretchen stepped up to the task of being the point person to organize the event. She coordinated with local organizations and individuals who had experience hosting other local events, including the Peacham Acoustic Music Festival. At the finish, after what must have been the end of a long day and a long build-up to the event, Gretchen greeted finishers with enthusiasm and congratulations.
It was evident that the Fondo was a true community event. Friends and neighbors offered tents, flags for course marshals, and other donations. Especially significant for the participants was the Pie Stop at the halfway point, hosted by the Peacham Library.
The field limit for this event was capped at 300. 183 people registered: 138 men and 45 women. The cost to participate in the event was $65. With 183 participants, it is likely they were able to cover their costs with money left over to serve their cause.
Peacham is a picturesque town whose residents were friendly and welcoming. The 44-mile route wound through drop-dead gorgeous scenery in and around the village. Total elevation gain was significant, with some steep sections. A rewarding effort, but definitely a ride you want to be in shape for.
The food was amazing. At the first stop, they had peanut butter oatmeal balls, homemade with love by Gretchen and her mother, Lisa. Plus, bananas and Ginger Mapleaid and Maple Waffles from Untapped.
The Peacham Library hosted the middle stop and had homemade pies, including peach yogurt raspberry (with whipped cream) and apple.
The after party boasted two food trucks: Caja Madera and Genuine Jamaican. Kingdom Taproom had several selections on tap, plus cans of Citizen Cider and both red and white wine.
The Peacham Cafe was open for business until 2 p.m., with hot coffee and fresh food on offer.
Proceeds from the event will go to the town of Peacham to build a public four-season pavilion and re-purpose the unused tennis court.
“The proposed structure – a space that will be used to foster education and stewardship with activities, workshops, and events like the Peacham Acoustic Music Festival and future Peacham Fall Fondos – is symbolic of the community strength and unity that we aim to celebrate during this event,” according to Ian.
In short, organizers and volunteers knocked it out of the park for the first ever Peacham Fall Fondo. The overall feel of the event was relaxed, friendly, and welcoming. This was an all-inclusive event for riders of all levels. The route was beautiful and fun, the on-course noshes were plentiful and yummy, and the after-party had the makings of a total blast.
This article originally appeared on www.bikekitz.com, a website dedicated to empowering women cyclists.