This Memorial Day, bike the Catskills

Above: Cycling on some Catskills roads. Photo via the Catskill Mountain Cycling Club Facebook page.

Cyclists who ride the Catskills know this is a perfect place to get on the bike for a quick 20-miler. And what better time to do it than this Memorial Day weekend, when two of our local cycling clubs are offering planned rides for cycling enthusiasts?

'Tour de Pepacton'

Billy Allison, of the Catskill Mountain Cycling Club, is the organizing brains behind this year’s Tour de Pepacton, a ride to benefit Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care, on Sunday, May 27.

“Last year, a group of friends and I riding on Sundays, and we got the idea to widen the event to incorporate the opening of the Pepacton reservoir to recreational boaters,” says Allison, noting a growing interest in Catskills ecotourism. “People visiting the Catskills can join our ride, boat the reservoir, and hike the trails – there really is more to do now than ever.”

Cyclists participating in the "Tour de Pepacton" can choose to either do a 25-mile, relatively flat loop around a portion of the reservoir, or a metric century (60 mile) loop around the entire length of the reservoir. Both rides begin and end at the Margaretville Village Pavilion, and are open to cyclists of all levels.

Interest in the event is high and Allison says clubs from around the Hudson Valley and Central New York will be riding, representing all ability levels.

“We’ve been emphasizing that this is a ride, not a race," he says. "Our club has a 'no-drop' policy, so while there may be faster riders who can take a map and ride the route ahead of slower riders, everyone is welcome to ride at their own pace."

Ride guides will be embedded with the group to assist, and a support vehicle to aid any cyclists in trouble will follow.

The Catskill Mountain Cycling Club is in the process of creating a website but, for now, information on the Club’s events can be found at its Facebook page. Riders can register for the Tour de Pepacton online by clicking here. (Extra incentive: There's a discount for earlybirds.) You can also get more info from an announcement in our announcements section and the event's listing in our calendar

'Cycling Heaven'

“We live in a cycling heaven," says Mike Wentland, who runs, and the Catskill Mountain Velo Club.

"Low traffic, beautiful back country roads," he says. "We’re so close to New York City, yet before online applications like Strava or MapMyRide, people had no idea where to go for a great ride.”

Now, in part due to his site and to the apps where he and fellow riders can store their routes for others to see and try for themselves, he says interest in the Catskill Mountain Velo Club is rising. While the blog is aimed at cyclists across a broad spectrum of abilities, the club tends to be for the more serious-minded riders.

“Every weekend we do a mega ride, generally 80-90 miles, so it’s really for people who are ready to take cycling seriously," Wentland says. "These hills are serious, nothing you would just casually ride.”

Wentland sees the club’s appeal to people who live most of their time further afield in places like New York City and Philadelphia. It aims to bridge a knowledge gap about the region for part-timers and visitors.

“A lot of people who don’t spend much time here think it’s like the movie 'Deliverance,' he says. "The club and the website also function as a way to let people know what we, and our region, our way of life is really about.”

For Memorial Day, the Catskill Mountain Velo Club is really about the ride. Saturday, the club is hosting a road ride, while Sunday features an epic 50-mile terrain ride through Delaware, Ulster and Greene Counties. For info on both rides, see Wentland's post on

Happy riding!