A few months out from the 2015 Cycle Adirondacks and we are still reeling from the excitement and enthusiasm that exuded from everyone involved with the event. When the Cycle Adirondacks team reached out to us to ask if we would be interested in being the digital storytellers of the event, we could not have been more excited. In it's inaugural year, we were given the chance to create a voice for the event through PureADK. From riders to volunteers and staff to local coordinators, everyone worked together incredibly to set all wheels in motion (pun intended!).
The attention to detail throughout the CycleADK tour was impeccable. Each day, camp was broken down and set up at the next location while the riders were out on the course. The organization that it takes to complete a full transition like that is incredible, and the volunteers working behind the scenes to make that happen had the whole process perfected by the end of the tour. Every camp consisted of:
In talking with the riders, the course of the tour was challenging, but very enjoyable. Feedback from the riders was key in selecting the route for the 2016 tour (which was just announced the other day on Periscope!). From rolling hills, to a few challenging steeps and the small but strong communities, the variety of scenery found along the tour was perfect for keeping the ride interesting. The Adirondack vistas, coupled with the Wildlife Conservation Society scientists, biologists, and conservationists stationed along the route to provide insight into the environmental landscape of the Adirondacks, made Cycle Adirondacks so much more than your average bike tour. Each town that the tour passed through has it’s own unique natural features and local charm that was showcased throughout the tour.
Day 1: On the first day of the tour, riders traveled from Saranac Lake to Star Lake, passing through points of interest including a DEC Fish Hatchery, Fish Creek Pond Campground (a favorite camping spot of ours!), and Cranberry Lake. With a riding distance of 68.3 miles, riders climbed a total of 3,297 ft and enjoyed a day full of woods, water, and rolling hills. In Star Lake, riders were welcomed with open arms and were even treated to some dock rafting out on the lake.
Day 2: Through some farmland and up some big hills, Day Two was full of scenic vistas, a little bit of rain, and a base camp full of Boonville hospitality, including ice cream sandwiches made with local dairy in Boonville and a welcoming committee of pee-wee football players and cheerleaders.
Day 3: The Day Three ride carried cyclists from Boonville to Camden. With both a short and a long option, riders traveled between 53 and 78 miles, and climbed a total of 3,328 ft. As the western-most part of the tour, Day Three presented riders with the most varied geography and landscapes of the week. Riders were treated to a pleasant surprise at the lunch stop - a group of seriously talented fiddlers from the Old Tyme Fiddler's Association. Rumor has it that WCS Naturalist, Jerry Jenkins, joined them on-stage with his penny flute for a few songs! After dinner, the Camden Continentals fife and drum corps performed a few songs in the camp, adding a nice touch to the camp life for the night.
Day 4: Cyclists traversed 75 miles and climbed a total of 4,519 ft, the most of any day on the tour! Upon leaving Camden, riders traveled across the upper Mohawk Valley and once again entered the Adirondack Park, ending their day cycling through part of the Moose River Plains. Day Four included stops at the Black River Environmental Improvement Association (BREIA) trails where naturalists were stationed and lunch in the hangar at the Old Forge airfield.
Day 5: The fifth day of Cycle Adirondacks was a rest day in Old Forge, where cyclists had the option of taking a small ride up to Big Moose. Many of the riders made their way into town to check out the shops, take a boat tour of the Fulton chain of lakes, or even do some leaf peeping since the leaves were just starting to change. A few of the riders joined up with Evan and I to hike Bald Mountain and check out the views from the fire tower on the summit.
Day 6: Day Six was a day full of beautiful reflective lakes and old growth forests. One of my favorite views of the route was on the way to the water stop in Raquette Lake, where the lake and wetland transition. Several riders were even seen making their way back out onto the route with a bag of fresh donuts in hand from the general store. A lunch stop at the Adirondack Museum gave riders even more insight into the region's history and culture. Just before reaching the day’s destination in Long Lake, an optional longer route took riders by Buttermilk Falls and down to a water stop where some homemade pies made a brief appearance (before they were gobbled up!).
Day 7: Our last day of the tour took riders from Long Lake back to Saranac Lake on a 65.3-mile journey with a total climb of 3,409 ft. There was also a short option for a route of about 53 miles. Cyclists passed some well-known destinations on this day including: The Wild Center, Paul Smith's College, White Pine Camp, and the Wildlife Conservation Society's Adirondack Program headquarters! The route lied within a region of large lakes and wetlands, deep forests, and spectacular views of the High Peaks.
In this precedent-setting first year, I think all parties involved would agree that the event was a success. While the photographer and the social media team hit a few bumps along the way (from misplaced camera bags to cars stuck in ditches), they are all things that we can now look back on and laugh at. With the announcement of the new route, we are already excited about the tour next year!