It's almost that time of year again... Black Fly Challenge time! Maybe you've heard of it? If you haven't, rest assured the Black Fly Challenge is nothing like what you are imagining. Here in the Adirondacks we are tough-blooded, we don't swat at the black flies... we simply out-ride them!
The 20th Annual Black Fly Challenge
On Saturday, June 13, 2015 the Black Fly Challenge (BFC) will host its 20th Annual gravel grinder, mountain bike race. This legendary 40-mile, point-to-point race rotates direction annually between Inlet and Indian Lake. In 2015, the course will begin in Indian Lake and will take racers through the incredibly gorgeous Moose River Plains Wild Forest via double and single track mountain biking trails, dirt roads, gravel roads and even some mountainous blacktop. It's truly a one-of-a-kind Adirondack Mountain course that provides something for just about every off-road cycling enthusiast.
Setting the Wheels in Motion
In the early-to-mid 90s, when event masterminds, Mike Drake and John Nemjo, first came up with the concept for The Black Fly Challenge people thought they were nuts for naming it after such a "despised Adirondack creature," but they knew they were on to something. The inaugural BFC was held in 1996 and drew in nearly 60 competitors. By its third year running, it had quadrupled in size and last year it welcomed nearly 800 racers to challenge themselves to this unique back-country race course.
The BFC... It's Epic!
The Epic Outdoor Adventures Black Fly Challenge is epic for a number of reasons, and not just because it is sponsored by Epic Outdoor Adventures.
Everyone Can Participate
The BFC started off as mountain bike race. However, over the years it has become a must-race for cyclocross racers, tandem cyclists and even unicyclists (yes, I said unicyclists). It attracts both serious competitive racers as well as recreational cyclists looking to challenge themselves to out-run the flies. For some, simply completing the course is a victory, for others it is serious racing. According to race director Dave Scranton, "One of the great things we hear from our champions every year when we interview them for the champion profile, is that... A) they love the mass start, they think the parade out of town is the coolest thing; B) they love that they can line up and race with people of all ages and abilities. There is always someone to race with... and it might not be who you expect, but there is always someone who wants to line up and burn!"
People Make it Happen
Like most Adirondack events, the BFC could not happen without the local volunteer manpower to help execute it. "It could not happen without the voluneers! The Indian Lake & Inlet Volunteer Ambulance crews, the ham radio crew that travels from all over to be here, and over 100 additional volunteers all contribute to help make this event a great success," states Scranton. If you want to get involved, they are always looking for more hands to join their great team.
There are so many reasons that the BFC is a unique mountain biking race. We have covered the fact that the race alternates directions each year connecting two unique Adirondack communities. But there is so much more! Check out just a few of the reasons this race is so unique:
- PRIZE PURSE - Have you seen the over $9,000 purse? There are cash & prizes for 34 different classes/categories. The cash and prizes, however, is not just for first place... prizes are awarded for the second and third place finisher in each of these categories as well. That's a lot of prize money and swag to be handed out!
- POST-RACE PARTY - The event hosts a huge post race party, and with this year being the 20th Anniversary Race, they have some big festivities lined up including live music from Showtime. Festivities will start at noon at Inlet's Fern Park.
- THE MOUNTAIN BIKE RODEO - There really is something for every cyclist. On Sunday, BFC will host the Mountain Bike Rodeo & Races at Inlet's Fern Park. The event includes slow races, barrel races, balance races, longest wheelie, and even a log pull. Add to it the circuit races, kid races and more, and it turns out to be a full event of its own. So whether you are racing in the BFC or not, make sure to bring your family to check out the BFC Mountain Bike Rodeo.
Course is Awesome!
This is simply where you can't say enough, this course is truly awesome... breathtaking... inspiring... It connects two great and unique communities. Between them, you travel through some of the most remote and beautiful backcountry of the Moose River Plains Wild Forest. With the course switching directions each year, racers will never get bored of this race as each direction on the course does vary a little. This year's starting line will begin at Byron Park in Indian Lake and end at Fern Park in Inlet.
But what makes this course even sweeter is that it truely is a cycling asset all season long. This course is on public land so it is open to recreational mountain biking for you to enjoy at your leisure. You can train on the course, enjoy family biking trips, or challenge your best time year from spring through fall. Have at it!
3 Things to Know Before You Go!
1. BE PREPARED - While the race does offers water at points along the course, remember it is a 40-mile race. Make sure to stock up and bring water, energy supplies, spare tubes, tools, etc., before you hit the course. You will also want to make sure your bike is tuned and ready to go. Packet pickup and last minute registrations will be held on Friday, June 12, 2015 at Pedals & Petals in Inlet, NY, and again on race day at Byron Park. If you need to have your bike looked at or need some last minute supplies, make sure to take care of it while you are there.
2. SPECTATING - If you are not racing, but looking to catch the action and cheer on your favorite racer, there are great locations to watch the race. From the starting line in Indian Lake, spectators can watch the beginning of the race (including that impressive mass start) by stationing themselves along route 28, between Byron Park and Cedar River Road. From there you can follow route 28 south to Inlet where you will be able to cheer on the racers as they come down to the finish line at Fern Park in Inlet. Some spectators have also been known to camp out in the Moose River Plains and cheer on the racers along the course.
3. MAKE A WEEKEND OF IT - Between the race itself, the post-race festival, and the Mountain Bike Rodeo on Sunday, there is so much to do that you won't want to pack up and leave too soon. Make a weekend of it, book a room, grab a meal and take advantage of a long weekend in the Adirondacks.