• By Betsy Parks

    Photography by Hubert Schriebl

    The best way to get to know Southwestern Vermont is to bike it. The scenic variety of terrain will appeal to nearly every two-wheeler.

    Northshire By Bike

    Bike Northsire 224x300 Northshire By Bike

    Phil and Angela Arbolino enjoy their ride in the 2011 AKP (Always Keep Pedaling) Bike Tour.

    Bikes are hot these days. Thanks to a combination of interest in “green” means of transportation and saving some money during the recent economic downturn, more and more cities and towns around the US are making way for cyclists with ever-growing miles of bike-friendly terrain. In the Northshire, however, bikes have always been in style. Ask anyone who’s lived in the area about biking and they’ll tell you: Vermont has four seasons—and three (sometimes even all four) of them are great for biking. From classic-style road riding to mountain biking to cyclocross, the Northshire and surrounding area has bike appeal. Cycling is certainly experiencing a boom around these parts, however, and the scene is becoming even more fun thanks to more local biking events. Beginning shortly after the last trace of snow is gone, several two pedaling events are lined up from spring through fall. You can challenge yourself to a road race, ride with a group or family, join a cycling club and meet up for a casual ride—and even ride up Mount Equinox! Clear some time in your calendar for these events in 2012:

    For classic-style road riders who like to race, the Shires are home to some world-class courses. The first in the season is the Tour of the Battenkill in Cambridge, New York, which takes place April 14–15 (tourofthebattenkill.com). The event started in 2005 in Salem, New York as a pro-am race under the direction of Dieter Drake. Thanks to a growing interest in the race, the event moved to Cambridge in 2009 to incorporate a professional component. Today the Tour is America’s largest one-day pro-am cycling race, which takes riders over 64 miles of dirt and paved terrain that begins and ends in the village of Cambridge. In 2011, the Tour welcomed more than 2,500 amateur and professional cyclists from all over the country and the world.

    The race, Drake says, was organized in response to an interest from local riders for a classic-style road race like those in Europe that take riders through cobblestone village streets and small roads. “We don’t have a lot of cobblestone streets here,” Drake said, “but we do have a lot of dirt roads, covered bridges and villages.”

    If you missed the Tour of the Battenkill this spring, however, you can still catch some of the action of the Tour this fall during the BattenFall Classic on Saturday, October 6, where you can ride a circuit race on parts of the course (tourofthebattenkill.com/ battenfall/). On Sunday, October 7, you can also ride in the Tour of the Battenkill Preview Ride to check out the 2013 course!

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