Roe Jan Ramble canceled due to COVID, bike tours move online
COPAKE — Under ordinary circumstances, cyclists of all levels of experience would come pouring into Columbia County in the fall to take part in the Roe Jan Ramble, an annual community event sponsored by the towns of Ancram, Copake and Hillsdale, created to raise awareness and donations to support the Harlem Valley Rail Trail. While the Roe Jan Ramble won’t be taking place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cyclists can ramble through the region on their own by checking out the scenic routes posted on the event’s website, www.roejanramble.org.
In addition to five new routes for cyclists to explore, event organizers have posted the race routes from the 2018 and 2019 Roe Jan Rambles to give cyclists a chance to relive the glory of previous rides. The five new routes feature a 19-mile Copake-Taghkanic-Ancram route, a 33.8-mile Hillsdale-Copake-Ancram route, a 21.8-mile Copake-Ancramdale route, a 12.6-mile Hillsdale route and a 16-mile Hillsdale route.
As listed online, the suggested routes are on paved, lightly traveled public roads as well as sections of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, “winding through lovely farmland, rolling hills and the picturesque hamlets of the Roe Jan Area in Columbia County.”
Cyclists can visit the website to get printable maps and cue sheets for the different routes.
“We’re disappointed we can’t offer a group event this year,” the website states. “But we hope you’ll find personal enjoyment in setting out on your own.”
Though the pandemic has changed the way in which people are able to gather this year, cyclists and visitors of the Roe Jan area are welcome to explore the scenic rides while exercising the necessary health and safety precautions. In spite of the challenges posed by COVID, Columbia County Tourism Promotions Specialist Amy Farrell noted how these self tours have helped promote the region. Whether they’re taking a pseudo-hike or walk with their immediate family members or in a small group, she said the tours give folks a chance to “explore their own backyard and look to see what they haven’t gone to before.”
As far as how the Ramble’s cancellation may impact local communities, Ancram town Supervisor Art Bassin said he didn’t think it will do much harm.
“We have been seeing a very large number of bicyclists riding our roads this spring and summer, caused probably by the large influx of people coming into the area from the city” Bassin said. “I expect this year’s virtual ramble will have the largest number of riders ever.”
And there’s still time, despite temperatures dropping, though this past week was abnormally warm for November. Chilly fall mornings and evenings are a great time to squeeze in a ride before winter arrives. Although the clocks changed back on Sunday, Nov. 1, with Daylight Saving Time and everyone lost a little bit of sunlight, there’s still plenty of time to get in a pleasant ambling ride, or for those wanting more of a challenge, an invigorating miles-long race along the Ramble routes — so make sure to grab that tire pump and check out the options.
“The Roe Jan Ramble Bike Tour has grown every year and so I am betting that if we are able to do a Ramble next year there will be record participation,” said Copake Supervisor Jeanne Mettler. “It is a wonderful event which not only raises cyclists’ awareness of our area but has also raised significant money for the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.”
For more information, go to www.roejanramble.org.