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Strolling of the Heifers “Tour de Heifer” challenging rides attract cyclists to Brattleboro

Cyclists from many states will participate in the Tour de Heifer, the cycling event on Strolling of the Heifers Weekend, taking place on Sunday, June 9.

“Strolling of the Heifers works on many programs year-round to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation at farm and food businesses, to connect people and organizations around sustainable living and resilient communities, and to promote the value of local food systems, local thinking and Slow Living”, said Orly Munzing, Strolling of the Heifers’ founder.

Proceeds from this year’s Tour de Heifer will support the Stroll’s Farm-to-Table Apprenticeship Program, which teaches nutrition and culinary skills to underemployed community members, placing them in full-time, permanent positions at local restaurants and institutional kitchens.

The Tour features scenic 15, 30 and 60 mile rides that all begin and end at Robb Family Farm in West Brattleboro.

The Robb Family Farm has been involved with Strolling of the Heifers since it started 18 years ago. Heifers from their 100-year-old family-run farm were some of the first to “stroll” up Brattleboro’s Main Street, but in 2011 the Robbs decided to cease their dairy operations and focus on maple syrup production and pasture-raised beef cattle. Their maple syrup was named the “Best Vermont Made Food Product” in the 2019 Best of Business Awards by Vermont Business Magazine. In addition to hosting the Tour de Heifer, the farm will be offering public tours on  Sunday, June 9 as part of Strolling of the Heifers’ Local Farm Tours. Please pre-register for Farm Tours at www.strollingoftheheifers.com/farmtour.

All Tour de Heifer rides include a farm-fresh lunch served at Robb Family Farm. A Vermont Table Catering will prepare “Tour de Heifer Quiches” and frittatas with field green salad and yummy dessert.

“The 15-miler includes some pavement and more moderate hills,” said Munzing. “We call that the Country Ride, and it can be done by riders without too much experience who are in good shape.”

But the 30-miler and 60-miler, she explained, are nearly all on dirt roads and involve lots of hills: a total of 3,300 vertical feet for the 30-miler, and over 7,000 feet for the 60-miler.

So far, the Tour has signed up riders from all over New England, plus New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

For all of the riders there are water/snack stops en route, including one at the scenic Green River Covered Bridge, the mid point for all of the rides.

All of the routes feature incredible views, farm and woodland terrain and New England villages.

For families and people who love to walk, the Tour also offers a three-mile guided hike to the top of nearby Round Mountain.

The tour is part of the annual Strolling of the Heifers Weekend, which takes place June 7-9 in Brattleboro, Vermont. The centerpieces of the weekend are the world-famous Strolling of the Heifers Parade and the Slow Living Expo, both on Saturday, June 8.

All of the Tour de Heifer routes include substantial stretches of dirt roads. Use of mountain bikes, cross-bikes, or road bikes fitted with at least 28mm tires is recommended. No highway travel is involved in any of the routes. Rental bikes are available at West Hill Shop in Putney at a very reduced rate of $10.

The routes are:

Heifer Classic 60+ mile Ride: A very challenging ride for experienced riders, which starts at 8 a.m. (Slower riders are encouraged to start as early as 7 a.m.) This route is 61 miles, with 7119 feet of climbing.

The 30-mile Green River Challenge: A challenging ride for experienced riders, starting at 9 a.m. It has about 3,300 feet of elevation gain, and minimal pavement.

The 15-mile Country Ride: This is an out-and-back ride, starting at 10 a.m., designed for moderately experienced cyclists. It includes about 1,250 feet of elevation gain over a mix of rolling paved roads and a nearly level dirt road along the Green River.

For walkers: 3-mile Road and Trail Stroll: The guided hike starts 10:30 a.m., from Lilac Ridge Farm to the top of nearby Round Mountain, and then back via Ames Hill Road and Abbot Road. The climb to the summit is about 750 vertical feet and is rewarded by scenic vistas to the east, across the town of Brattleboro to Mt. Wantastiquet and Mt. Monadnock.

Registration and information: Riders and hikers may register for the Tour at www.bikereg.com/tourdeheifer. Rates, lunch included, are $20 for the hike, $40 for the Country Ride, and $70 for 30 and 60-mile options. Children 16 and under riding on any route, $15. Higher rates will be in effect on the day of the event.

More information is available at www.strollingoftheheifers.com/tour

For information on all Stroll Weekend events: www.StrollingoftheHeifers.com

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