Scenic biking event rolls into village on Saturday
By Julia Green
Cycling enthusiasts and leisurely bike riders won’t have to go far to find something to do this weekend, when the inaugural Catskill Scenic Ride-n-Peak cycling event takes place in and around Margaretville on Saturday, starting at 8 a.m.
“A bicycling event had been simmering for quite awhile,” said Lucci Kelly, one of the event organizers. “At the very beginning I was sitting in then-executive director Joan Lawrence-Bauer’s office at MARK and we were saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could get a professional bike race here?’” Kelly learned that Lawrence-Bauer had had a similar conversation with Christine DuBois, and that other people had been having similar conversations. “A lot of people were thinking the same thing,” she said.
That small group of interested people created the Kaatskill Arts Agriculture Tourism and Sports (KAATS) Foundation, which will be applying for tax exempt 501 (c) 3 status this winter, and which is one of the key collaborators of this weekend’s event.
“The thinking was, this is such an underutilized tourism-bound area, and bicycling is so green,” Kelly said.
“The event is about celebrating this place and bringing people here to appreciate it,” added Peter Manning, regional planner of The Catskill Center and another organizer of the event. “Those of us who live here understand how special it is. A lot of this starts at the grassroots level, and it’s about building awareness of the cycling culture that’s here, and building on that.”
The first-ever Catskill Scenic Ride-n-Peak event will take place this Saturday, May 16, beginning at the Village of Margaretville Pavilion. The event, which is a benefit bike ride for the Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care Association, is sponsored by the KAATS Foundation in collaboration with the MARK Project, Catskill Center for Conservation and Devel-opment, Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce, Delaware County Tourism and Ski Plattekill.
Participants will be able to select from a variety of different rides, including a 104-mile ride that winds through Andes, Delhi, Bloomville, Hobart, Stamford and Roxbury before ending back in Margaretville. A less grueling 14-mile bike ride takes riders along Route 28 and across the Arkville Cutoff Road and onto Route 30 to loop back into the village of Margaretville.
There are also rides in varying distances of 25, 54 and 75 miles.
When the concept was first presented last year, those involved had visions of holding an actual race.
“It was Kingdon Gould who said he wasn’t thinking so much of a race, and that it would be more fun to have a ride to encourage riders to come up and enjoy the vistas we have here,” Kelly said. “So we changed the focus from a race to a ride.”
Laszlo Vajtay, owner of Ski Plattekill, applied for and received sanctioning from USA Cycling, which lends credence to the effort, and through the efforts of Joan Lawrence-Bauer and MARK, a $5,000 matching grant was secured from the O’Connor Foundation.
Riders participating in this year’s Ride-n-Peak event will receive complimentary T-shirts as well as water and snacks and chicken barbeque when they finish at the Margaretville Pavilion. Riders will be welcomed back to the pavilion by the strains of the live music of Blues Maneuver, who will perform from 2 to 5 p.m. Bike rentals will be available from the Arkville-Bikeville and Catskill Outback Adventures, and bike helmets will be on sale from the Arkville-Bikeville. The pavilion will also be the site of various kids’ activities, including art activities, games, and a bounce house courtesy of Catskill Rentals. There will also be a canoeing and kayaking shuttle provided by Catskill Outback Adventures.
Start times for the various rides are as follows: 104-miler, 8 a.m.; 75-miler, 8:30 a.m.; 52-miler, 9 a.m.; 25-miler, 9:30 a.m.; 14-miler, 10 a.m.
Riders who register by May 14 will receive a discounted registration fee of $25; day-of registration is $30. Check-in begins at 7 a.m. and registration closes 10 minutes prior to the start of each ride.
The Ride-n-Peak event precedes other scheduled cycling events in the Catskills, including: The Triple Crown event hosted by Belleayre Mountain, May 24; The Big Indian Road Race, August 29; the 2009 Gravity Series East Finals at Plattekill Mountain, October 10 and 11; and October’s Lark in the Park event, which features riders boarding the train with their bikes and then riding along the scenic trail to Grand Gorge before re-boarding the train to return. There are also a number of cycling events scheduled by Fats in the Cats Bicycle Club throughout the summer.
“It would be great if this grows into something,” Manning said. “That’s our idea. You can’t beat this landscape for this kind of activity.”
Funding for the Ride-n-Peak event is provided by the A. Lindsey and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation, New York State Assemblyman Clifford Crouch, Belleayre Region Bicycle Club, Margaretville Telephone Company, Wadler Brothers, Vly Mountain Water, and New York Spring Water Co., Other donors include: Abbi and Frank Gould; Caleb and Janie Gould; O’Beirne Associates, Catskill Mountain Forestry Services, Rosehedge Farm, Quarltere’s Garden Center, Hilltop Maple and Firewood, Kathleen Mami-Moore, and Catskill Rentals.
In addition to Kelly and Manning, parties who were instrumental in the organization and planning of the event include: Lazslo Vajtay, Carol O’Beirne, Peg Ellsworth, Patty Cullen and Christine DuBois.
“I think this will grow,” Kelly said. “We’re hoping that it will take root and grow, and that the wheels keep turning.”
For more information or to register for the event, visit centralcatskills.org.