Harlem Valley Rail Ride rolls into Millerton
MILLERTON — Cyclists who have been watching the televised coverage of the Tour de France this week are no doubt itching to hit the area hills themselves, suited up and surrounded by a large pack of other enthusiasts.They’ll have their chance to do just that on Sunday, July 24, in the eighth annual Harlem Valley Rail Ride. Participants will start at Eddie Collins Field on Route 22 and can then choose from four different routes, ranging from a 25-mile trek along rolling hills, to a 100-mile ride (also known as a century) that includes some serious slopes, including one that’s nearly 1,709 feet. “Originally we were planning a century with about 7,500 total feet of elevation,” said race organizer Bob Bagomolny. “But after we posted the route, the response was so overwhelming that I had to take it down and change it. So now we have 8,700 feet of elevation.”The peaks and their “categories” are online at www.harlemvalleyrailride.com; the century has a note on it that says, “THE CHALLENGE IS BACK! The outcry to restore the elevation to the century ride has been heard. Thank you to all who have reached out to us to restore the elevation. The message was very clear and the elevation has been restored to 8,783 feet of climbing pleasure.”No one ever said that Litchfield County and Dutchess County cyclists aren’t sufficiently serious about their sport.For those who change their minds partway through the century, Bagomolny said, “The riders will have probably done about 5,000 feet of elevation by the time they’ve gone 62 miles. They can then choose to stop and make it an 82-mile day, or they can do the last climb up over Bash Bish and into Egremont. “The riders think it’s the greatest thing in the world,” he added drily.There are also 50-mile and 75-mile routes; elevation charts and descriptions are available at the website.Bagomolny and Beth Katz, his partner in organizing the Rail Ride, have many years of experience in riding the roads of Litchfield and Dutchess counties. Katz worked for many years for Bike New York, which founded the Harlem Valley Rail Ride and ran it for the first seven years. The cost of producing the ride was prohibitive for the New York City-based organization, however, because so many of the workers and so many of the supplies had to be brought up to the Millerton area from the city. Housing had to be found and paid for as well, for the workers.“Our vision is to turn this into a local event,” Bagomolny said. The ride will, as always, benefit the Harlem Valley Rail Trail organization and all four of the routes include a 4-mile section of the Rail Trail.“We’ll also be making donations to the local EMT organization that provides first aid and emergency medical treatment throughout the ride,” he said.This year’s ride is actually slightly more expensive than prior rides, with an entry fee of $65. More is included in the cost, though.“At the past events, one of the biggest criticisms we had was that they paid to ride but after the ride was over, they had to buy food, it was never included,” Bagomolny said. “One of the most noticeable changes this year is that the price is higher but it includes the barbecue.”Food will be provided by the American Legion (“They have a reputation for providing a fabulous barbecue,” Bagomolny said). The menu is expected to include sweet corn, hot dogs, bratwurst, sausage and peppers, hamburgers and veggie burgers, grilled chicken, pasta, salad, ice cream and watermelon.Other merchants or organizations have been invited to cook additional summer favorites, such as roasted chicken.“Anyone who isn’t riding is invited to come out and join us for the cookout,” Bagomolny said. “The cost is $12 for adults and $8 for children.”There is going to be a farm market at Eddie Collins Field as well, with local produce for sale. Music will be provided by Deejay Joey D. And the pool at the field will be open, so swimming will be available. Bike repairs will be provided by two local bike shops.To register and to get more information on the routes and other essentials such as SAG vehicles, sponsors and transportation packages from New York City, go online to www.harlmenvalleyrailride.com. Area residents are invited to participate as volunteers; to sign up, send an email to Bagomolny at email@example.com.The ride will be held rain or shine.