Rensselaerville Cycle Festival
The last weekend in September is the time to pack up your bike and take a trip to Rensselaerville, NY.
On Sunday September 28th, the tiny hamlet in the Catskills will play host to a something-for-everyone cycling event.
The first annual Gran Fondo, an organized, mass-participation cycling event, will kick off the festival at 9am, followed by the festival ride at 10.
The Gran Fondo offers a piccolo, 25 mile race, medio, 55 miles, and a gran, 84 mile, ride choices.
The courses are more or less concentric circles, according to Tyler Wren, race promoter. “Everyone rolls out together for the first eight miles. The 25 miler is a sneak-peak. It has rolling hills and views of the Catskills but it’s not really up in the mountains. The medio has one big climb, it gets up in the mountains and has the challenge of the dirt road,” Wren said. “The grand is a tough ride for the real enthusiasts”.
The route was designed by Wren, a Jamis - Hagens Berman professional rider and climbing specialist.
“What we’re trying to do showcase rural view historical villages out here.” Wren said about designing the route. “It will go past historic homes and working farms, some of which will be featured in the meal after,” Wren explained.
Festival goers will get a literal and figurative feel for the flavor of the area.
An additional bonus for riders is the presence of cycling celebrities who will also be taking part in the Gran ride.
Ten or more professional riders will be leading off the Fondo, list here, including Ben Jaques-Maynes, who just won the King of the Mountains competition at the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado in August.
“Don’t worry,” Wren said. “This is not a race. They’re not going to be going full gas. They’ll leave the glory to the mortals and be enjoying the views. Their presence is just adding to the participant’s experience. They will be around before and after. They’re all very accessible and friendly athletes and everyone is certainly encouraged to interact”.
The eight mile, festival ride, expects to see riders on everything from mountain bikes, to tri bikes, to recumbent, according Wren. The full schedule of events can be found here.
Starting at noon there will be barbecue, a festival market, and live music from the Lustre Kings, and Black Mountain Symphony.
The Kids' Mini-Fondo Ride Departs at noon as well.
There will be a brewing demonstration from the Helderberg Brewshed, a guided hike of the Huyck Preserve, a Kids' Bike Rodeo & Corral, a talk from the New York State Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, a Ride with GPS Data Upload Station, and tons of great prizes to give away.
As the website reads-
“Remember, you don’t have to bring your bicycle to appreciate what’s happening in our neck of the woods, but we hope you do”.
An event, any sporting event, is dependent upon volunteer energy. Wren explained that there have been three people, Wren along with Jon Kosich and Dave Warburton, working full time for months.
The day of the event he expects 60 or more volunteers.
“They kind of all understand that our little town here is on display. For that reason they have been easy to organize,” Wren said.
He and wife, Jennifer Vander Veer, moved to Rensselaerville in November of 2012, just under two years ago.
“My wife and I moved in on the main corner in the thick of the action. It’s a tight knit community,” Wren said. “And they’ve all gotten behind the event”.
A local guy is tuning up bikes for free; 25 people from the area signed up for festival ride. The event is transforming the town.
To top it all off every Fondo rider is in contention for the grand prize, a 2014 Jamis Bicycles Icon Elite, valued at $2800, in the size of their choice.
Get out and ride a bike.