I’m not on my bike as often as I’d like. Mostly it collects dust, while I miss the exhilarating feeling that I get from riding it. But clearly, many others are not of the same lazy, procrastinatory bent as I, because most days I see plenty of cyclists, in groups big or small or solo, enjoying the stunning mountain and river scenery in the Hudson Valley – and rightly so. An event this weekend promises to combine bliss-inducing vistas of farm and dale, with not only glimpses of the river along the way, but also culinary delights to sustain you; what’s not to like?
On Saturday, September 15, the fourth annual Farmland Cycling Tour, coordinated by Scenic Hudson, begins at Poets’ Walk Park in Red Hook, Dutchess County, with apples, donuts and cider from Overlook Farms in Newburgh. Festivities continue with bike routes of ten, 25 and 45 miles in Dutchess and Columbia Counties, with water stations for thirsty cyclists and fresh apples for munching en route.
The bike tour culminates with lunch back at the Park, serenaded by live bluegrass music with Rich Hines & the Hillbilly Drifters. And if you don’t want to bike, you’re welcome just to enjoy the day in the Park, which has long been a particular favorite of mine, with its gorgeous rolling hills – some field, some forest – rustic wood benches and gazebos with stunning views of the Hudson.
Lunch will be from J & J Gourmet Café and Catering of Red Hook and features two kinds of chili: a vegetarian and a steak-based. J & J co-proprietor Jen Stokes reports that there will also be some freshly baked cornbread with peppers and scallions, followed by an assortment of cookies and brownies for dessert.
All day – before the rides, at stations along the way and back at Poets’ Walk – there will be local seasonal apples to taste from Overlook Farms in Newburgh. Although the list is still being assembled at presstime, an assortment is promised, and varieties will be labeled, for connoisseurs and just plain apple-lovers alike. Cider and donuts from the farm will complement the crisp fresh fruit.
The biking routes pass by some working farms that Scenic Hudson has helped preserve, “to showcase protected farmland created by conservation easements,” according to event and volunteer coordinator Anthony Coneski. The 49-year-old Scenic Hudson is the largest environmental group that focuses on the Hudson River Valley. It has conserved more than 28,000 acres of land and has established or maintained more than 50 area parks, preserves and historic sites.
Participation in the Farmland Cycling Tour is free. Bike helmets are required, and riders under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. A new rule requires anyone under 16 to have their bikes attached to an adult’s or ride a tandem bike with an adult.
No preregistration is necessary; “Just show up,” says Coneski, with registration from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. The recommended start time for the 45-mile route is 9 a.m., the 25-mile route at 9:30 a.m. and the ten-mile route at 10 a.m. All routes head north from Poets’ Walk Park on Red Hook’s River Road, go through the Bard College campus and onto Route 9G, with the shortest route going into the village of Red Hook before returning to the Park and the other routes heading further north.
The ending time is about 2 p.m. and the event goes on rain or shine, “unless there’s a monsoon, hurricane or lightning, “ says Coneski, who promises to have the website updated by 7 a.m. the day-of.
Crisp, flavorful apples, bracing cider, fresh donuts and warm chili and cornbread: all that and a beautiful bike trip too? Sounds like a heavenly way to spend a mid-September day. I think I’ll have to dust off that bike and go!
More information on the Farmland Cycling Tour is available at http://scenichudson.org/thingstodo/events/farmland-cycling-tour-2012-9-15 or by contacting Coneski at email@example.com or (845) 473-4444, extension 273.