The Roanoker - July/August 2017 - 79
first love, and he traveled all over the U.S. for competitions. At these events, he'd run his dogs through trials,
swap stories with other regulars, and even arrange 'onthe-farm' experiences with ranchers-all with the goal of
becoming a better Border Collie competitor. In order to
train his dogs, though, Rogers needed sheep, and "after
a few years, I realized I was a sheep hoarder," he laughs.
"I was leaving 600 sheep behind when I drove away
for a competition." Those 600 sheep, of course, required
quite a lot of work, and, importantly for the evolution of
the farm, Rogers understood that he enjoyed the work
more than the competitions.
"Chefs are passionate, obsessive people," Rogers muses,
then pauses, looking out at the two bearded cooks from
South Carolina grilling handmade sausages over an open
flame. "To be a great chef, you have to be obsessive about
food. I think that's why cycling is so perfect." It's this obsession that drove Rogers to learn how to raise the perfect
sheep (it's all about the grass they eat-"you could say I'm
a grass farmer," he laughs) and this obsession that, eventually, turned him from overindulgence to road warrior.
As a former marathoner, it didn't take Rogers long to
realize that pounding the pavement wasn't what he loved
anymore. Although he tried walking on the treadmill, it
just didn't give him the pleasure that running used to-
and as anyone in the industry will tell you, pleasure is
just as important to the success of something as any other
element (i.e. a dish can't just look good, it also has to
THAT'S WHEN A CONVERSATION with Chuck
and Diane Flynt, the farmer-cidermakers behind Foggy
Ridge Cider in Floyd, Virginia, saved Rogers's life.
Every year in September, they told him, Chuck celebrates his birthday by riding his age in miles on the Blue
Ridge Parkway. That year, he planned to ride 75 miles for
his 75th birthday. It seemed like the perfect challenge for
Rogers-slightly ludicrous and unimaginable, but something that had to be doable if a friend almost 20 years
his senior was up to task. So on April 15, 2015, Rogers
bought a Bianchi comfort bike from Mt. Airy Cyclery,
drove over to the Emily B. Taylor Greenway, and pedaled
the first mile of the rest of his life.
From the first mile, he was hooked-road cycling offered both the challenge and the rush that a treadmill
lacked. Adding on the miles every day, Rogers quickly
graduated from flat rails-to-trails like the New River Trail,
and began to tackle the Blue Ridge Parkway, where elevation became the coach he needed.
"Chuck's birthday ride was going to be 75 miles and
7,000 feet of climbing," Rogers explains. "It's not easy
on that part of the Parkway in Floyd."
To prepare, Rogers rode almost daily, taking his bike
with him on business trips to restaurants and food festivals, finding saddle time even when it seemed his schedule was slammed. So by Chuck Flynt's birthday that September, Rogers was ready, and he celebrated his friend
on two wheels-the best toast either of them could have
Ride, Dine, Imbibe...
and Catch your Breath
Virginia's rolling hills
prove challenging for
some flatland chefs, but
Craig Rogers's rides are
JULY/AUGUST 2017 | 79