Monday, June 15, 2015

Tour de Force

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2015 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge At the Tour de Kingston-Ulster starting line at Forsyth Nature Center - TOM POLK
  • Tom Polk
  • At the Tour de Kingston-Ulster starting line at Forsyth Nature Center

The Bronx has one. And Syracuse. And of course there’s always France. But on June 28th, you can stick to the Hudson Valley when the Tour de Kingston-Ulster celebrates its 10th anniversary with a bicycle-seat view of the historic houses, artisanal restaurants, mountain glimpses, and studied urban decay that make our fair city such a fine place to explore. You should do it with your kids!

The Tour de Kingston-Ulster offers kids and families two main features this year. At 11a, there’s the free, 5-mile ride on flat, city streets, where families ride as a group with marshals in the lead, on the traffic side, and a KPD car bringing up the rear. Designed for families of all stripes and abilities, it embraces the city community with rest stops at the Senate House for a quick tour, the Fireman’s Museum for a visit with firemen and trucks, and the Y itself for a fresh bottle of water. The second feature happens when families arrive at Forsyth Nature Center to register for the ride. They’ll be greeted with the bicycle safety booth near the pavilion, which is open all day to educate and offer tips on fitting helmets properly. There’s a NYS law that all kids under the age of 14 must wear a helmet, so the Tour has some to share. Arrive between 10:30-11a to sign up, receive a bright yellow Tour de Kingston tee, and a helmet, if your child needs one. Everything associated with the family ride is free, thanks to Tour de Kingston sponsors, the YMCA, the HealthAlliance Foundation, the Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, plus other businesses and local bike shops. “It’s a great coming together of different groups,” says Tom Polk, the Director of Development at the YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County.
Tour de Kingston-Ulster 5-mile Family Fun Ride: Register in person between 10:30-11a on June 28th at Forsyth Nature Center, 125 Lucas Avenue in Kingston; guided ride starts at 11a; free; helmets for kids under 14 required (some available at check-in).

Also stretching through the city and nearby towns are various routes designed by local bicycle shop owners blistering with discovery. “The idea is to bring people together, and show residents and visitors some of the features of the community,” says Polk. Pick your poison with the 10-, 18-, 25-, 28-, and 50-mile road and rail trail rides that traverse between city streets, rail trails, and highways. Steve Leibowitz, owner of Revolution Bicycles in Saugerties, and designer of the 18- and 28-mile rides, says, “We can it an endurance ride because we’re gearing that towards a higher level of cycling enthusiasts. People think a rail trail is going to be easy, and then they get there and think, ‘This is harder than I thought.’ It’s fun and people can definitely pace themselves, but we want people to place themselves in the appropriate mileage category.” Kids aged 15+ can ride alone with a parent’s signature on the waiver at check-in at Forsyth Nature Center. With a cue sheet for the ride, people can go at their own pace. The longer rides have a registration fee, which funds community scholarships to support any type of education that would help a person give back to the community at large.
Tour de Kingston-Ulster 10-, 18-, 25-, 28-, and 50-mile rides: Register and find out more about the routes in advance at BikeReg; check-in on June 28th about half an hour prior to ride start time at Forsyth Nature Center, 125 Lucas Avenue in Kingston; $30.

click to enlarge Kids and families taking a break from the Tour de Kingston Family Fun Ride at the Kingston Fireman's Museum - TOM POLK
  • Tom Polk
  • Kids and families taking a break from the Tour de Kingston Family Fun Ride at the Kingston Fireman's Museum

Want more? Check out the YMCA’s Youth Cycling program (which runs spring and fall) and their Mountain Bike Camp (which takes place at Camp Seewackamano in Shokan with its own registration and camp schedule). Polk will also run a similar program at the Everette Hodge Community Center at 15-21 Franklin Street in Kingston, July 27-31, which partners with the City Parks and Recreation Department to provide cycling opportunities to city kids with loaner bicycles and volunteer ride marshals. Contact the Y. And check out our previous mountain bike Daily Dose post to connect with area bicycle shops, which offer local rides that are often open to kids and families.
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