This article originally appeared on Triathlete
In 2009, Devaney Lomenick opened a small pie shop on the corner of Highway 18 and Center Street in Veyo, Utah. Lomenick's goal was to carry on a piece of local history by making the recipes she learned while working in the bakery at the Veyo Mercantile. The pies, created by Evalyn Yaw, were popular with locals and visitors, and the "Merc," as they called it, was a hub for gathering. When the Merc shut down in 2008 after 50 years of serving the Veyo community, Lomenick opened a standalone pie shop using Yaw's recipes.
For the first six months of the Veyo Pie Shop the business did about as well as a small bakery in a small town could be expected. But suddenly, in January 2010, things picked up--a lot.
"We started experiencing athletes coming in on a daily basis as they cycled through our area," Lomenick said. "None of us were aware of Ironman until they told us they were preparing for the race in May of 2010."
The inaugural Ironman St. George, hosted just down the hill from Veyo, had plotted out a bike course that took athletes through many of the small towns on the outskirts of St. George, Utah. The route included a grueling climb that began at the nearby Gunlock Reservoir, through the town of Gunlock, and up a steep switchback to Veyo that would be known by athletes as "The Wall." It was a hard climb, and most athletes were not looking forward to conquering it--that is, until they heard there was a pie shop at the top.
The Veyo Pie Shop had to increase their production to keep up with the steady flow of sweaty, spandex-clad customers coming through the shop each day. "It became an adrenaline rush for all of us," Lomenick said. "It absolutely, 100% greatly affected our business. The athletes blogged and posted on their social media about us locally and internationally, and that catapulted our business worldwide."
Even when the full Ironman was shortened to a 70.3 in 2013, athletes still made the pilgrimage up the Gunlock climb to the Veyo Pie Shop. Helmet-clad triathletes from around the world clop-clopped into the shop in their bike cleats for the sweet treat they had heard so much about, and the bakery staff learned the preferences of their mid-ride customers.
"All of the athletes that come through our shop have such varied tastes, so our goal is to keep up with a variety of flavors to make them happy when they stop in. Pie slices, pastries, and cookies are the favorite things to grab and go. For those who choose not to eat solids while they’re riding, we usually see them at some point afterwards getting a whole pie to share with friends and family."
The return of the full Ironman St. George in 2022--this time as a world championship race--has brought in a new surge of athletes, and the bakery staff is mixing up a near-continuous stream of flour, butter, and sugar to keep them happy and well-fed. On race day, the shop will set up a cheering station for athletes with loud speakers and a curated music playlist for the riders to hear as they ride by. During times when business is slow on race day, the staff plans to go out and cheer. It's the very least they can do to reciprocate the support they've gotten from triathletes over the years.
"For us, it's always been Ironman first," Lomenick said. "Our appreciation and admiration for the athletes who endure such a competition, and all the other runners, cyclists, and customers who pass by and love what we do is what keeps us going."
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