April 2016 - Bicycling
Super Spring Rides
By Dave Kraus
Spring is here, and that means that great cycling events are going to be popping up like tulips in the coming weeks.
Two of the most prominent events in the in upstate New York are back for another season. The Tour de Cure, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association, will return at its tradition time in early June. But the other – Tour of the Battenkill – will offer a new date and new features.
On Sunday, June 5, the 25th annual Tour de Cure will once again roll out from Saratoga Springs High School with an expected 2,500-plus riders gathering to ride a variety of distances including 10, 28, 50, 62.5 and 100 miles to support diabetes research and services. It’s one of the largest charity rides in the Northeast and is now the second largest Tour de Cure event in the nation behind Napa Valley, Calif. The 10-mile ride is mostly flat in Saratoga Spa State Park; the 28-miler connects with the Zim Smith Bike Trail; 50-mile route offers moderate hills; and the metric and century routes challenge riders in the southern Adirondack foothills.
On the road, full service rest stops will offer food and drink, and there’s also full mechanical and sag support. After the finish, Mazzone Hospitality serves lunch, and there’s music and massage therapists. Riders can also earn various merchandise prizes depending on how much they raise, and participants raising more than $500 get a special Tour de Cure jersey. There’s also the special Red Riders team for riders with diabetes, with specific incentives and special jerseys to recognize team members. Two of the nation’s top ten single site teams, Kivort Steel and Davidson Brothers Drafters, are based in the Saratoga region. For complete info and registration go to: diabetes.org/saratoga.
At the 12th annual Tour of the Battenkill, the winds of change are blowing in Washington County, as they make some changes to continue widening the event’s appeal. First, the traditionally challenging route will host cyclists on Saturday, May 21, more than a month later than it’s previous early April date – in order to provide more reliable good weather. This year the Battenkill will also be a one-day Pro/Am event, with fewer racing fields and no affiliation with USA Cycling, so no racing license is required.
The Gran Fondo portion is also being expanded on the same course as the race, with 68 total miles, seven dirt road sections, and 4,000 feet of climbing. The fondo format lets all riders, from racers to non-racers to enthusiasts, challenge themselves on the course that has helped make Battenkill one of the largest single day races in the country. The event home site at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Greenwich offers ample parking, on-site camping, showers, and is just 15 miles east of Saratoga Springs. Complete event and registration details is available at tourofthebattenkill.com.
A variety of other events will also offer something for just about any type of rider from late April through early June.
Sean’s Ride on Saturday, April 23 at Chatham Fairgrounds with 50, 20 and 10 miles – Sean’s Ride is part of the Sean’s Run Weekend in memory of Sean French, who lost his life in 2002 when a drunk driver hit the car he was a passenger in. The three scenic ride routes start/finish at the Chatham Fairgrounds and offer beautiful views of the Hudson Valley set against the backdrop of the Catskill Mountains. There are stocked rest stops, post-ride refreshments, and an awesome after-ride, long-sleeve jerseys to the first 250 entrants.
Since 2002, 15th annual Sean’s Weekend events have raised over $195,000 to fund grants that support programs at schools and youth organizations, and scholarships to deserving high school seniors. For complete info on the rides, 5K run, Zumbathon and other weekend events, visit seansrun.com.
Team Billy Ride & Walk for Research on Sunday, May 15 at Saratoga Springs Farmer’s Market with 50, 25 and 10 miles – This is the 12th year for the Team Billy Ride and Walk for Research to raise funds for brain tumor research, honoring Billy Grey, who died in 2001 from glioblastoma multiforme, a highly aggressive form of brain tumor.
The three rides take place in Saratoga County and the 50-mile route encompasses the historic Saratoga Battlefield. The three-mile walk covers the historic district of Saratoga Springs. All the events begin at the city’s Farmer’s Market on High Rock Avenue. This local event has raised almost $2 million for brain tumor research. Get all the details at teambilly.org.
Fork to Fork Culinary Bike Tour on Saturday, May 21 at The Hub in Brant Lake, 55 miles – To help kick off it’s third full season in business, The Hub in Brant Lake is hosting this first annual event that will take riders on a scenic culinary bike tour through northern Warren County, including rides around Loon, Brant and Schroon lakes, and stops for food and drink sampling at 15 eateries, two ice cream stands and a brewery in Adirondack, Schroon Lake, Pottersville, Chestertown and Brant Lake.
The ride concludes back at The Hub with a Paradox Brewery tap-takeover. The countryside in the lakes district along the Schroon River and Brant Lake offers beautiful scenery and quiet backroads. The ride is also presented by the town of Horicon and Tri Lakes Business Alliance. Get full info and purchase tickets on Facebook (search “fork to fork ride”) or go to bikereg.com/f2f.
Whiteface Uphill Bike Race on Saturday, June 4 in Wilmington, 11 miles – This challenging race climbs the Veteran’s Memorial Highway up Whiteface Mountain, with an average 8% grade that will challenge even the fittest cyclist. There are nice race prizes, but the biggest reward of all may be the spectacular 360-degree view of the High Peaks and surrounding area from the summit.
It’s part of the Wilmington Whiteface Bike Fest weekend, with a variety of cycling events including the Wilmington Whiteface 100K/60K Leadville Qualifier mountain bike race on Sunday, as well as a vendor expo, music, food, children’s activities, demo bikes, and free group rides. Get full info at whitefacerace.com or wilmingtonwhitefacemtb.com.
Tri-State Century on Saturday, June 4 at Great Barrington, Mass., 100 miles – The Tri-State-Century is a road cycling adventure that takes riders through scenic backroads and small towns in Berkshire County, Mass., Litchfield County, Conn., and Columbia and Dutchess counties in NY.
The moderate terrain ride will include a support vehicle, course sweep rider, plus three rest stops with food, drinks and lunch. For details call or text (917) 533-4639 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Vermont Epic Road Ride on Saturday, June 11 from Bedford, Mass. to Ludlow, Vt., 134 miles – Organizers of this 16th annual “Battlefield to Vermont” ride are serious when they say it’s not for everyone; it’s “New England’s toughest cycling weekend” for a reason! The course winds through 132 miles of Massachusetts and Vermont backroads, includes 8,100 feet of climbing to finish at Okemo Mountain Resort. B2VT includes three fully stocked rest stops, technical support, Vermont Epic bike jersey, and a party at the finish line.
New in 2016, VT Monster Gravel Grinder is an 80-mile, 9,000-foot vertical ride on mostly dirt and gravel roads. Finally, the VT40 is a 40-mile recreational ride for family and friends, with a 20-mile option so any rider can participate. For details, go to vtepic.com.
Get Your Guts in Gear: The Ride for Crohn’s & Colitis on Saturday, June 11, 62.5 miles – Crohn’s Disease, also known as ulcerative colitis, affects more than 1.4 million Americans but because of the silence that often surrounds these types of diseases, public awareness is lacking.
This ride helps raise funds and awareness with a 62.5-mile ride in the Hudson Valley, including full support, food, drinks and fun to follow. If there’s interest, the organizers may add a 30-mile option. For information and registration go to regional.igotguts.org/HudsonValley.
Tour de Salem Flame Fighters Bike Rides on Sunday, June 12 in Salem with 62, 25, 16 and 10 miles – Hosted by the Salem Fire Department, riders can choose from four different routes through the rural countryside of Washington County. The 62-mile ride event travels into Vermont and includes the challenging Rupert Mountain climb.
The event will start/finish at the Salem Fire Department’s carnival grounds, and proceeds go toward construction of their new firehouse. A budget-friendly family registration rate is available. For details go to tourdesalemflamefighters.com.
Dave Kraus (email@example.com) of Schenectady is a longtime area cyclist, photographer and writer. Visit his website at KrausGrafik.com.