Events: The Fall Classics of the Northeast
(2016) Call it wishful thinking to look to the end-of-the-season fall rides. With a relaxed tone, fall classic bike rides are some of our most enjoyable gatherings. We want to highlight some of our favorite rides or at least ones we're looking to ride. Consider signing up soon; one of the rides listed below has a limit of fifty riders.
Brown’s Brewing Covered Bridge Tour September 17 ($45 - $75)
We first were impressed with Brown’s Brewing a couple years back when passing through Troy, NY. We knew we were in for a good time when several cycling team cars were parked out front of this industrial style brew pub. Curious as to what the story was, we went into Brown’s anyway for food. Wouldn’t you know Brown’s had something to do with all those team cars outside? It was everyone decompressing from the Cyclocross Nationals in nearby Vermont by throwing back some pints. Brown’s does cycling support well. They’ve stood at the finish of the Tour of the Battenkill for several years and for the second edition of the Covered Bridge Tour.
Coming from an area with ridiculous covered bridges count, we’re intrigued. The ride starts from the brewery in Hoosick Falls where it will wind around Rensselaer County looking for historic covered spans. Distances include twenty, thirty, or fifty mile tours. The twenty and thirty-mile courses have one covered bridge; the fifty mile route has four covered bridges.
While Brown’s is the presenting sponsor of the ride, Great American Cycling Series is taking care of all the logistics, as it is the next stop on the Rip van Race 2016 road series. These are the guys who put on the spring classic Tour of the Battenkill and the recently successful mid-summer day's Tour of the Catskills.
According to Brown’s website, for every t-shirt they sell, proceeds will go to the Agricultural Stewardship Association. This is a program with the goal of preserving the farmland from development. Ever wonder why rides like Battenkill and Covered Bridges can roll on roads for miles without seeing much traffic? This is one reason.
As for Brown’s, they produce solid beers and solid food. On the many forays up the New York Thruway, we’ve actually called ahead to their brewpub to get food to go. Still don’t believe us? Go on any given weekend – specifically during hockey season – and try to get a seat at the bar. The word is out about Brown’s, perhaps it has something to do with targeting a group of athletes who like to recover with craft brewed pints.
Be quick to register, this event is limited to 200 participants.
Maple City Century September 25 ($40)
Our ridekick Mike (He’s back!) has been hounding us to ride the Maple City Century. We've been sorting through hours-worth of voicemails left by him demanding we meet him in Honesdale, PA. After suffering from the shock of Devil’s Kitchen at the Tour of Catskills, any mention of steep climbs has us dry heaving into the nearest trashcan. Wouldn’t you know that’s what the Maple City Century mentions in the full century description? For those who enjoy gravel experiences, this might just be one to gear up for.
In the northeast corner of Pennsylvania there are beautiful lands and lakes that have been seen by a small amount of people. The reason could be that the Delaware Water Gap and Catskill Mountains draw people away from this region. It is certainly beautiful country.
Departing from Honesdale, PA, the Maple City Century offers three distances: a thirty-mile, a metric century, and, the one that started it all, the full century. Commenting on the full century, 95 miles of the route is on unpaved roads. You read that correctly, there are 95 miles of unpaved roads in the area. The full century has some descriptions we’ve not had to consider before such as ‘logging roads’ and ‘farm crossings.’ Some new scenarios are imagined after reading those descriptions.
At one of the more economical considerations on the list, it may be the best deal mile for mile. They also state they will bring any specific nutrition you give them for the rest stop. Perhaps a six pack? Maybe a flask of maple bourbon? Both? Hopefully that would soften the blow of another possible hike-a-bike. Register for the Maple City Century here.
Bicycling Magazine Fall Classic October 2 ($30 - $100)
I’ve bragged about the cycling around Trexlertown for quite some time. There are cyclists out at any time and in any weather. There are strangely fast Mennonites on bikes. And there are community-supported events such as the Bicycling Magazine Fall Classic.
It’s been tough getting to this one for me personally. One year a bunch of us did the Derby, which takes off every Sunday (Bicycling Magazine's Fall Classic is also on a Sunday). It must’ve been quite a sight for the ten-mile group ride to see a pack of determined riders steaming toward them trying to set up a winning sprint. Many participants tried to wave to us, but the dwindling group was in a duel to win that week’s Derby.
One year George Hincapie led the 90-mile option. One of my - then- teammates tried to keep up with George and came undone by trying to hang onto the group surrounding him. According to Brian, our subject, Hincapie gave him "the look" and asked him, "When does the climbing start, big guy?" At that moment Brian knew his day would be unique. He limped back having spent all his energy in the front portion of the ride.
Last year I was under the weather and decided to stay home when the rain came down in the early morning. Two teammates went on to ride and stated it dried out before the start. I felt like I had missed out. Perhaps this is the year to register and ride it.
My parents have done this ride a couple of times and brag about the after party. Apparently after the ride has finished the party starts. The food has been raved over, the beers are proper, and the camaraderie is genuine. I’ve met people who have come from Texas specifically to do this ride yearly. They take a week off from work just to ride. When people come from that far away and take that much time out of their life to participate in an event, it means the ride is a pretty big deal. That and the fact it's in Bicycling Magazine's backyard means it's a strong event.
Tour de Vine October 15 ($75)
The Hudson Valley is a pretty enjoyable place if you know where to turn off. Combine with the recent interest in catered rides, and the Tour de Vine may just be what you’re looking for. With room for only fifty participants, this may be something to do as a couple. (Original posting of this event stated room for twenty riders.)
Too often rides stress a race-like atmosphere. In the spring it makes sense because riders are prepping for the upcoming race season, but in the fall it’s time to wind down and have a look around. What better way than riding a twenty-mile ride to three vineyards in the Hudson Valley? This is a ride where leaving the GPS at home is a necessity. There’s no need to worry about the average speed or Strava segments. It's a moving social and a return to the enjoyment a bike can bring at any speed.
Find a friend (or friends) and register for the Tour de Vine. It might be your shortest day yet, but it could actually be your best day out.
Central Bucks Bicycle Club Covered Bridges Ride October 23 ($35 but increases $5 per month)
This is the premier fall classic ride for Bucks County. It’s usually been the weekend before, so this year’s later date could create for more vibrant leaf peeping.
If you’re interested in seeing covered bridges, this is your ride. With five distances up to a metric century, you’d be hard pressed to find something that doesn’t work. Each distance sees at least one covered bridge. The ride departs from the beautiful Tinicum Park and parking is never an issue. The year we rode it saw perfect weather and beautiful sights. Furthermore the ride explored roads we had never thought of riding. To top it off, the Central Bucks Bicycle Club donates the proceeds to about eight charities.
The two shortest routes are flat utilizing the canal path; the three longer routes see at least 2500 feet of climbing with the longest route accumulating more than 4500 feet of climbing. The long route crosses at least six covered bridges unless a trucking company says otherwise. The bridge experience comes quickly as the Erwinna Covered Bridge is in the first mile of riding. With 2000 riders showing up each year for this event, it is recommended to explore the Covered Bridges Ride at least once.
Once you’re finished the ride and the impressive after party at Tinicum Park, make a weekend of it by staying around and explore what the area has to offer. The Bucks County area is great for cycling and even better at the after riding experience.
Kermesse Sports' Oktoberfest October 30, 2016 ($65)
The after party at Appalachian Brewing Company in Collegeville is so good that Kermesse Sports sells tickets to the companions of the riders. In its third year, this ride is a beautiful experience of Montgomery County. With two distance options, riders can opt out of the bear of a climb: Eichele Road. How you tackle this course is up to you. If you need motivation, the food and beer at the finish should give you a little boost on some of the latter climbs.
We’ve been there for the first and second edition of Oktoberfest. Both times it seemed prudent to ride off the front to be first in line for the food. All it did was make me exhausted at the foot of the beast in Green Lane Park. The fact I keep coming back should be an indication that this ride is a great time.
For the nostalgic riders, this was the route of the old Univest Gran Prix bike race. If you haven’t been in the area recently, this could be the best excuse to return to Montgomery County. The Appalachian Brewing Company is more than welcoming for Oktoberfest. Registrants get tickets for beer sampling and endless German-themed food, including Bavarian-style pretzels. Read our article highlighting the 2014 event on granfondo.com as well as our article outlining the ride in wet conditions in 2015. We looked forward to this ride starting last November. It’s usually when the digestion from the mounds of food has completed.