WEST BRATTLEBORO -- Beautiful, rural landscapes with gardens and barns make up the routes found on this year's Tour de Heifer map.
"So far the roads look in pretty good condition," said Hanna Thurber, event coordinator for the tour.
On Sunday, the Tour de Heifer will continue in its third annual run as part of the Strolling of Heifers weekend in Brattleboro. There are various rides for different abilities, but each starts at Lilac Ridge Farm located at 246 Ames Hill Road. From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., food will be served behind the farmhouse, where musicians will also perform.
For the Tour de Heifer, 100 people have signed up as of June 1 and many more were expected to sign up. People can register for the tour on strollingoftheheifers.com/tour. There are five groups altogether with three routes.
This will be Thurber's first year coordinating the tour. Bicycle riding became a big part of her life approximately eight years ago. She regularly commutes to work by bicycle and volunteered for the tour before landing the director gig.
Thurber prefers the dirt roads that organizers have attempted to keep most of the routes on.
"I find it nice in the summertime," she said. "The paved roads are hotter and not as fun for me at least."
In preparing for the tour, organizers will occasionally ask towns not to grade roads included on the routes. But that cannot be helped sometimes as weather and scheduling comes into play.
Once leaving Lilac Ridge Farm, all riders will make a right on Mather Road then take Bonnyvale Road. That will be the first steep hill and riders will pass Cortland Hill Orchard. They will continue onto Lee Road and pass by Circle Mountain Farm.
The route will continue for 15, 30 or 60 miles depending on which route riders signed up to take. Families taking part in the 15-mile ride will take a right on Hinesburg Road. Other riders will take a left on Briggs Road, which Thurber describes as "a very small road."
"Hardly anyone goes on it unless you live on it," she added.
From there, a water stop and resting area will be designated for family groups at Sunrise Farm. Typically, the families stick to the route with the shorter mileage.
Deer Ridge Farm will be the next farm that all riders will end up passing on Hinesburg Road. It will also be featured on the Strolling of Heifers' Sunday Farm Tour. Organizers have found that some families may stop on their bicycles to take part in that tour, but most riders just keep moving along, not to break their rhythm.
For those on the 30- and 60-mile tours, there is a left on Carpenter Hill Road. It will lead to Guilford Center, where there is a right hand turn on Guilford Center Road.
"There's a little reprieve on pavement," said Thurber.
The first water and resting stop for the long distance riders will be set up before the two routes split up. The 60-mile route goes left on Sweet Pond Road, which will go further into Guilford. The 30-mile ride will go right on Stage Road.
All routes eventually meet at the Green River Bridge in Guilford, where there is a dam and waterfall. A representative from a bike repair shop will be on site to assist.
Family ride participants will begin to ride back to Lilac Ridge Farm from that location. It will mark the halfway mark for them and they will pedal for another seven and a half miles. Organizers wanted to find a flatter route for that group.
"It's the flattest we could find," said Thurber.
The 60-mile ride will move forward, eventually making it as far as Whitingham and Wilmington.
"It's challenging, but you see a lot of southeastern Vermont along the way," Thurber said.
Those embarking on the 30-mile ride will continue into Halifax, where there will be a water and resting stop on Green River Road and Moss Hollow Road. A right on Moss Hollow Road will take riders up past Marlboro College to South Road. That will be the final climb for them. Everything from there is very much downhill.
Ames Hill Road provides a steep hill to the end at Lilac Ridge Farm. Before then, riders will pass by Robb Family Farm, which is also part of the Sunday Farm Tour.
One man has signed up to do the 15-mile Tour de Heifer route on unicycle. He has previously done so. People from out-of-state have already begun to sign up.
Thurber's tip to riders: Enjoy it and take it easy.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.