A Pitch for ‘Cyclosportif’
On the porch of Libby and George Pataki’s home overlooking the Hudson River, bicycling enthusiast and businessman John Eustice on Monday evening pitched his vision for the Putnam Cycling Classic.
The Classic, a mix of recreational riding and the trappings of a professional race, is slated for Oct. 14, a Sunday. As evening turned to dusk in Garrison, Eustice, a professional race organizer from New York City, described Putnam County as perfect terrain for a highly organized, challenging race.
“It’s incredibly beautiful,” he said. “It’s challenging, especially coming from this direction (western Putnam). It’s very hilly. There’s such natural beauty here, you envision a bicycling park almost.”
Eustice, of Sparta Cycling Inc., said the race will be a “cyclosportif,” a mass ride over a set, closed course, with time clocks, support, water stations, signage and so on. While it has elements of a race, the competition really is internal, a cyclist striving to hit a better time. But the trappings of a full-bore race give everyone, Eustice said, the opportunity to have what he called a “Walter Mitty, Tour de France moment.”
Libby Pataki, Putnam’s director of tourism, is seeking business and other sponsors to help finance the race. Putting the race on will require about $65,000, she said. About two dozen business people and politicians from the area attended, including those in development, banking, hospitality and beverages, as well as representatives from Metro-North Railroad. Attendees heard both Pataki and Eustice pitch the race, and they talked a bit of politics as they noshed on refreshments.
A cooperative arrangement with Metro-North, already underway, is key to drawing widespread participation of cyclists from New York City.
The Classic, in both a short and a long course of 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, is slated to start and end in Cold Spring, but wind its way across the breadth of Putnam County. Eustice and Pataki are hoping for 300 or more entrants. Eustice noted a race he organized in Lenox, Mass., the Berkshire Cycling Classic, turned into a “smashing success.” The Putnam race could be even more successful, given the proximity to New York, he said.
Pataki was upbeat about the potential draw: “You can come up from New York City in one hour, and get off the train. You don’t need a car, and you can have a spectacular time. It’s a day-tripper’s dream.”
The benefit to Putnam, of course, is more visitors’ dollars churning through the economy.
For more information:
The tourism office can be reached by phone in Carmel at 845-808-1015. More info can be had at these websites: http://putnamcycling.com/ http://berkshirecyclingclassic.com/ http://www.visitputnam.org/ home.php