Cycle to Farm® was created by Jennifer Billstrom in 2011, and first held in Black Mountain, North Carolina in 2012. The concept was simple: beautiful route, challenging riding (62 miles and 5,000ft+ of climbing), local farmers offering tasty samples, and a small “tailgate market” at each farm with purchases by cyclists transported back to the Finish by vehicle. And a Fabulous After Party with a farm to table meal at the Finish.
It broke even the first year, despite high expenses of the delicious meal, music, and the complexity of volunteers retrieving purchases made by cyclists at 5 local farms spread across three counties and miles of country roads. Large cycling events almost always lose money the first or even second year. We knew we were on to something. And we were committed to raising the visibility of local farmers, especially those on beautiful cycling routes.
Participants came from as far away as California and New York. And in a feat not since matched, the event attracted slightly more than 50% female riders. To our knowledge, Cycle to Farm is the only large group cycling event to attract 50% female riders every time it was held (more typical is 5% to 20%).
The event has raised money for charities, centered on supporting greenways but also including land conservation, healthy lifestyles, and sharing the bounty of local farms with the poor.
The Numbers (2012-2016)
|10 Events since 2012||1,961 Cyclists participating|
|29 Local farms||806 Volunteers|
|22 Different states as the home address of cyclists||34 Marshal positions staffed by volunteers, on each course|
|17 government agencies, on average, participating in each event|
|$17,180 in cash contributions to non-profit organizations:||$461,000 in economic development impact in four communities
The Cycle to Farm events were known to be safe for the rider, extraordinarily well-supported with volunteers, marshals at intersections, beautiful route maps, and great first responders: law enforcement, fire, EMS and rescue. All of these people made it safer for the participant.
We’re proud of our volunteers, dozens of local government agencies, and loyal sponsors. They all made this dream come true. We will always be thankful for their hard work and support.
– Jen Billstrom, Creator of Cycle to Farm®