Bike the Barns report
Bike the Barns 2010 (MACSAC's fourth annual fundraising bike ride for Partner Shares) was a red letter day. Thank you, MACSAC, volunteers, support riders, farmers, cooks, the drivers who shared the roads, and especially those who pledged. What a great day it was!
The ride started at Token Creek Park with a morning snack at Sassy Cow Creamery, lunch at Emerald Meadows, and an afternoon stop at JenEhr. Our plan for Nichole to ride and JM to meet her at the after party came to pass.
It started in the rain, which turned into a mist during breakfast. A strong cup of Just Coffee and a breakfast sandwich by Underground Food Collective were an early reward for not being deterred by the weather.
Two pieces of light focaccia held a layer of tender potatoes, eggs with spinach, and the best part, a sweet tomato-onion jam that elevated the sandwich from fuel to fantastic. Hotel trays of cut red and yellow watermelon and canteloupe also came out at breakfast.
MACSAC director Kiera gave the riders a sendoff and bikes poured in an orderly fashion out of the park gate. The first leg of the ride was misty and cool.
Sixteen miles in, at Sassy Cow Creamery, we got cheese, apples, pears, apple-cinnamon croissants, chocolate milk, and ice cream samples.
We also peeked in at part of the creamery tour and learned that Sassy Cow has a 400-head dairy herd, a 300-pound curd tank that supplies the likes of Graze, and that organic skim milk is their biggest seller, though whole holds its own, primarily because families buy it for their kids.
They also shared their basic ice cream recipe. Nichole wasn't taking precise notes, but if memory serves, it involved 100 gallons of whole milk and heavy cream and 150 pounds of high-quality granulated sugar, plus premium vanilla and flavors. "We don't do it that way because we're some sort of ice cream snobs or anything," said our guide, the co-owner. "We know we can't compete on cost, so we put out the best ice cream we can."
Ice cream flavors available in the Sassy Cow store included staples like vanilla and chocolate, creative apple and cheddar, and the stellar orange with dark chocolate chip. Columbus, WI is way easier to get to than Columbus, OH, home of Jeni's, but Sassy Cow is a scrappy underdog in the same league. (Sorry, Ohio, still like you, but being in love with your Eis ain't cheap.)
The BLT was on a thin slice of grill-toasted, buttered white bread (with flecks of a hard grated cheese baked on top), a thick slice of meaty cottage bacon, roasted heirloom tomatoes (green zebras, maybe, and intensely sweet red ones), and kicky radicchio. It folded in half with a crunch and dripped delicious juices to the end. The side dishes mixed on the plate, but the flavors in both the three bean and garden salads got along well. The three bean salad, like so much UFC does, was a twist on a standard: this one had small red kidney beans and chickpeas but used a bigger, fresher green bean than usual, and a balanced sweet dressing. The garden salad included broccoli, sprouted lentils, onions (maybe small leeks?), and celery greens. Try this at home with celery greens from local celery, if you can find it. The flavor is nothing like celery tops from the conventional grocery store.
The clouds parted in the early afternoon. With two thirds of the ride behind us, and smooth, largely traffic-free roads, the third leg of the ride sailed by.
We were lucky to arrive at JenEhr in time for the afternoon snack, which we hear sadly ran out. It was an ingenious way to do ice cream sandwiches: vanilla ice cream between layers of bar cookies, cut with a huge knife. Feeding almost 600 bikers is a logistical challenge, and this was a creative way to speed the line, though it looked like really hard, incongruously cold work to wield the cleaver.
The last 11 miles were bearish. A headwind had picked up, and the sun was in our eyes, but we made it back to the park in time to get dinner (shish kabobs, grilled squash and corn, tomato-cucumber salad, more melon), beer (Furthermore Proper or Knot Stock), and to see the tireless Greasy Gears bicycle-themed gogo dance troupe perform three songs.
Also good news: our notoriously flaky camera didn't lose a single shot despite being jettisoned onto the pavement (check out a few more pictures).
Bike the Barns gets better every time. We're already looking forward to next year's.