By Alicia Dziak
Road races! Trail races! Cycling fun for kids and adults! It’s all happening at the annual Raccoon Rally, June 28-29, at Allegany State Park (ASP).
The beginning of ASP’s peak season will bring thousands of eager campers to the park to enjoy all it has to offer come summer. Among the visitors will be cycling enthusiasts ready to tackle the challenging trails and roadways within New York State’s largest state park at the annual Raccoon Rally, brought to the park by Heartrateup.com.
“For over 20 years, the Raccoon Rally has been the highlight of all that is cycling at Allegany State Park,” said Mark Lawrence, part of the race crew from Heartrateup.com. “Today’s road races, trials competitions and mountain bike cross-country races continue to be focal point of hundreds of cyclists in beautiful and challenging terrain within the park.”
On Saturday, June 28, the road races begin at 9:30 a.m., kicking off at Camp Allegany, located on the Red House side of the park, off ASP 2, between Red House Lake and the Beehunter cabin trail. The demanding course, with chip timing, takes riders over the main park routes, with distances of 25 or 50 miles. Cost is $25 to $30, depending on the race.
Saturday’s mountain biking trials competition takes place at Thunder Rocks, accessible from ASP 2 and ASP 3. Trials cyclists compete on beginner, sport, expert and pro courses for bragging rights and custom awards. Registration for this event is $30, offered same-day only, on-site at Thunder Rocks.
On Sunday, the mountain bike cross-country races send competitors into an array of course options on the Art Roscoe trail system, on the Red House side of the park. Beginner riders race 13 miles, sport riders race 25 miles and expert riders race 30 miles.
What is required to participate in the weekend?
“Helmets mandatory and a little bit of cycling experience!” replied Lawrence. “The trails for the cross-country mountain bike races are mostly non-technical (steep roots and rocky terrain) and offer a practical challenge to those with the lungs and legs to accept the challenge. Sport and Expert XC races on Sunday are for intermediate to pro levels and can last several hours easily.
“Saturday’s road races are one or two laps around hilly park roads and riders must have a USAC license to participate in the longer races. Otherwise, the Category 5 race is for all other riders completing one 25-mile challenging lap. A true test of fitness and loads of fun in this breathtaking setting! One-day licenses are available for purchase at race site and mandatory for Saturday’s road race for non-license holders.”
In addition, kids’ races will be held on Sunday afternoon, weather permitting.
“Kids’ races are held just prior to Sunday’s awards ceremony at the rally headquarters field/trail section,” explained Lawrence. “A 100-yard course is created, featuring grassy areas and some woods trails that are modified for each age/skill level of our future world champions. Parents and families can cheer on or assist their kids during this highlight of the weekend.”
Sign up for the kids’ races is at the starting line.
How do you join the weekend’s fun?
“Online entry can be found at www.heartrateup.com or at many local bike shops — see posters and flyers,” he said. “Race-day entry is always available as well. Just come on down to Camp Allegany and sign up!”
The park’s rolling terrain, beautiful trails, challenging ascents and descents, plus the remote beauty, are top benefits for holding the race at ASP each year. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to get a great workout, and enjoy the sights and sounds of this beautiful park!
“The rally is an annual tradition where cyclists from over six surrounding states come to strut their skills, laugh, meet new friends and battle current friends on the many challenging courses,” said Lawrence. “Rain or shine, the courses offer a fun challenge for any level of cycling.”
For more information, or to register, visit www.heartrateup.com.