Catskills Ride & Peak event aims to boost biking, tourism

By Julia Green
In its second year, the annual Catskills Ride & Peak event on May 22 aims to further the growth of the Catskill region as a premier cycling destination. Last year, the inaugural event attracted 98 riders for the five different courses; a number that impressed event organizer Lucci Kelly.
“Ninety-eight riders for the first year is considered quite terrific, actually,” she said. “We have all the right conditions for wonderful bicycle riding.”
The event also welcomed riders from varying areas, including: Philadelphia, Pa.; Hoboken, N.J.; Washington, D.C.; and Kingston.
This year’s Ride & Peak Event features five different courses in increments of 14, 25, 26, 54 and 75 miles. The 104-miler from last year was eliminated and was replaced with the 26-mile course, which will take riders from Margaretville through Arkville to Fleischmanns and Halcott Center. The 25-miler, by comparison, will take a more level route, winding around the Pepacton Reservoir.
The first group of riders, which will take on the 75-mile course, will depart from the Village Park between 8 and 8:30 a.m.; the other riders will depart from the park at 30-minute intervals in descending order of distance.
All riders will receive a T-shirt, bottled water and energy bars and snacks, and a variety of vendors and food will be available. The Margaretville Hospital Wellness Committee will be on hand to conduct a golf stance clinic at 9 a.m. and the Historical Society of Middletown will be leading historical walking tours through Margaretville beginning at 10:30 a.m.

New events added
This year, Kelly said organizers also encouraged the Margaretville Central School PTA to conduct an event for children; led by Norika Zellner, the organization is offering the first annual Tricycle Team Race for one adult and one child together as a team. In addition, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office has donated 36 bicycle helmets to be given away to children to emphasize the issue of bicycle safety.
The Tricycle Team Race will take place in the village park at 1 p.m.
One of the key organizers of the event is the KAATS Foundation, which is in the process of applying for 501(c)3 tax-exempt status and is currently under the umbrella of the MARK Project. Also collaborating in the effort are the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce and a variety of sponsors, as well as a grant from the A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation.
“We’re learning how to do this as a successful event,” Kelly said. “Next year we hope to expand it by perhaps putting on a road race on Saturday in conjunction with the Plattekill Mountain Bike Club and then doing a family run on the Sunday to make it a true bicycling weekend festival.”
Riders can register online in advance for $25 by visiting the Central Catskills Chamber website at www.centralcatskills.com, or may register for $35 on the day of the race. Riders are encouraged to register early, as registration closes 10 minutes prior to the start of each ride. Course maps are also available for download on the Chamber website.
Kelly said organizers hope to continue to grow the event, as well as to continue marketing the Catskills as an ideal cycling destination.
“The scenery, the views, and just the way the roads are, are fabulous,” she said. “I think hopefully with the scenic byway destination that people are working very hard on, it really is idyllic, and if they get the road redone and everything, it could really make this a fabulous destination for bicycling. It’s an ever-changing landscape, and we live in a very beautiful part of the country.”