Outdoor Adventures: Pedal for a cause
The reasons people ride a bicycle are as numerous as the shades of color on cycling jerseys.
Physical health, competition, sanity, lifestyle, politics, camaraderie and, of course, a cause – giving back and making a difference.
All of those reasons, and then some, are found during any number of rides across the region.
Rides are wonderful social events, with myriad story lines. Route descriptions, fundraising suggestions, training programs and other sundry details are dispensed to riders from event organizers to help maximize the experience for everyone from newcomers to advanced bicyclists.
Each one has its own flair.
Head for the hills on the Tour de Heifer (strollingoftheheifers.com) June 8, a day of cycling from farm to farm along southern Vermont’s bucolic dirt and paved roads. Make no mistake there are hills here. But there are also less goat-like routes for the family.
Centered in West Brattleboro, cyclists ride routes of 15, 30 and 60 miles. Those seeking an early-season challenge might consider the classic 60-mile spin with an elevation gain of about 7,000 feet on a route of mostly dirt with a midway breather at Green River.
Follow the Green River on a blend of dirt and rolling pavement on the moderate 15-mile family ride.
The idea here is to promote localism, from foods to thinking.
The Long Trail Century Ride on June 21 benefits Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports. The great thing about this century is that it starts and ends at the Long Trail Brewery on Route 4 in Bridgewater Corners, Vt. Even greater, the ride hopes to raise $125,000 for Vermont Adaptive, a nonprofit organization offering year-round recreational opportunities for disabled participants.
Some 500 spots are open for the 100-, 60- and 20-mile routes through Killington, Pittsfield, Bethel, Barnard, Woodstock, Ludlow, Bridgewater and Plymouth. Take in the scenery while ascending some 4,450 feet in elevation on the century. Last year riders amassed $75,000 for the cause. Organizers expect a sell-out. Register at longtrailcenturyride.com.
Riding ’round the rockpile makes the Mt. Washington Century Ride (tinmountain.org) on July 19 one of the region’s most challenging 100-mile spins. A benefit for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, the three routes – 40, 80 and 100 miles – wind through some of New Hampshire’s most specular landscapes in the shadows of the Presidential Range and White Mountain National Forest.
Cyclists roll from a minimal elevation of 443 feet to a high of 2,034 feet through the hardwood forests and by rushing streams. Passes conquered include Bear Notch, Crawford Notch and Pinkham Notch.
There are bragging rights there, but also at the Prouty (theprouty.org), on July 11-12, straddling New Hampshire and Vermont. A longtime fundraiser for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, there’s a route for all levels of rider with mileages of 20, 35, 50, 77, 100 and 200. That’s right, a back-to-back century. Called the Prouty Ultimate, cyclists do a century a day for two days. Day 1 is a ride from Manchester to Hanover that starts with a police escort and goes by Lake Sunapee, and Day 2 is the regular century.
Ride from the Canadian border to the Seacoast during the three-day Trans NH Bike Ride for Muscular Dystrophy (transbikeride.org) June 27-29. Day 1 begins on a mostly downhill note from the border to Littleton, some 100 miles. But don’t worry, there are massage therapists available. Cyclists pedal to Laconia the next day, about 75 miles, while the third day is also mostly downhill (but there are some hills, of course) of about 65 miles to Portsmouth.
Can’t do the whole ride? Sign up for a day or two.
Head south, but not too far, to explore the towns and farmlands of Central Massachusetts during the four-day Mass BikePike Tour Aug. 7-10. A benefit for the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, ride through towns like Harvard and its apple country, the greenery of West Brookfield and the charm of Whitinsville, Hardwick and Winchendon.
Starting and ending in Shirley, cyclists choose mileages between 30-40 miles and 45-70 miles. A camping tour with hot showers, breakfast and dinners are included along with support vehicles, luggage transport and rest stops every 15 miles. Cost is $430 and the tour is limited to 150 riders. Sign up at massbikepike.org.
So get involved and ride away.
(Marty Basch can be reached through onetankaway.com.)