The Fall Fundo is Old Spokes Home’s annual fundraiser ride. Every year, hundreds of supporters of bike access for all come together to ride and raise funds for our nonprofit. The money raised via the Fall Fundo is critical for Old Spokes Home’s operations: it finances much of our programming, including Everybody Bikes, Bike Bonanzas, our classes and workshops, and more. Despite the lack of cooperation from the weather, in 2023 we collectively raised over $37,000. Read on for our recap of the big day…
On Saturday, as the raindrops began to fall, riders trickled into Old Spokes Home in advance of the start of the 2023 Fall Fundo. With the forecast in the days leading up calling for up to two and a half inches of rain, we didn’t know what kind of turnout to expect. Would anyone want to go out in this weather?
Despite the oncoming precipitation, by 10 AM nearly 150 riders were hanging out, enjoying Myers’ Bagels, Miss Weinerz Donuts and coffee from Kestrel Coffee Roasters. There were smiles and laughter aplenty as folks found their riding partners, connected with friends, and prepared for the sendoff of the season’s funnest fondo.
Though it was only sprinkling when riders rolled out of our lot, by the time they reached their first aid station, the precipitation had increased to full-on rain. It was a pleasant surprise to see that everyone was smiling all the same. Some grinned out from under the hoods of their raincoats while others shedded their slickers and leaned into getting wet; nearly everyone sported a decent stripe of mud up their back.
At the first aid station, along Austin House Road, riders stopped for a slice of pie (some with a piece of Cabot cheddar), a Garukabar, or a savory VT Smoke and Cure snack, enjoying the scenery as they chewed. Though the clouds obscured what we’d hoped would be a stunning view of Mount Mansfield, they presented a beauty of their own: decorated in full fall foliage, hills faded in and out of the low cloud cover; yellows, oranges, reds and remaining greens popped against a blue-gray background. If it were not for the joy brought by our riders, it may have seemed melancholy. Instead, it was joyous.
After a brief stop, riders rolled over to Rollin Irish Road, a perennial favorite of Burlington-based dirt-road enthusiasts. Rolling hills, heifer farms, and tree tunnels lend to the beauty of this road, and its quirky name makes it easy to remember.
Short climbs and shorter descents on Rollin Irish carried riders up to Chapin Road, where they enjoyed miles of easy downhill grade. By this point, the rain had really set in — but the smiles only seemed to grow as riders zipped along the favorable false flat.
Up a short climbing punch on Colonel Page Road, drivetrains creaked, groaned, and ground, coated in grit, but persisted. Riders stretched their legs as they turned onto Old Stage Road, where the paved surface allowed the rain to rinse their bikes just in time for another stretch of dirt on Lost Nation Road.
At Colchester Pond, riders refueled one last time before their trip home. We’d planned an explosion of fall color and blue skies over the pond, but instead were delivered the somber, still charm that only a socked-in day can provide. By this time, it was really raining. Riders joked that they needn’t fill their bottles when they could simply open their mouths to the sky. Unremitting aid station volunteers served hot cider and riders squeezed together under the tent for a moment of respite. Then out they rolled, back into deluge.
A few miles later, riders completed the loop of their lasso-route and headed back to the shop the way they had come.
Meanwhile, another group of resilient riders took on the Urbundo route, splashing through the puddles on Intervale Road, sliding through the trails in McKenzie Park, and then, after their aid station at Ethan Allen Park, zooming back to town via the Burlington Greenway. Though the Urbundo is billed as our approachable Fundo option, no one had it easy. Urbundo riders started only after the heaviest rain had begun, showing impressive resolve and commitment to both our organization and their own ride.
Back at the shop, the party was in full swing. Will Warren hopped off his bike and jumped in with his band, the Natural Selection, and played the hits. Folks munched on salads and dips from Poppy Cafe, chowed down on sandwiches and sides by Mister Foods Fancy, and sipped on beverages from Zero Gravity. Spirits were high as friends danced on the soggy shop floors and laughed about their follies in the rain.
By the end of the weekend, we had surpassed our goal of raising $35,000! We owe enormous thanks and gratitude to all of our registrants, riders, fundraisers, donors, volunteers, and sponsors. Without each and every one of you, we could not have met our goal. Because of your efforts and generosity, we will be able to continue our work to improve access to bikes and the opportunities they provide.
Throughout the next year, we will continue to look back on the 2023 Fall Fundo and feel immense gratitude. The capital that we collectively raised will enable our workshops and classes, Everybody Bikes, Youth Shop, Bike Bonanzas, and so much more. As we deliver these programs to our constituents, improving lives and communities through bicycle access, we will do so with profound appreciation for our supporters and their [your!] efforts. Thank you.