The Mountain Times

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Inaugural Vermont Challenge to cycle through central Vermont

This August an estimated 400+ riders will set out to complete the Vermont Challenge-the only bicycle Challenge that tours Southern and Central Vermont over 3-4 days and draws upon the creative energy of local businesses and people of Vermont in each local community.

"Cyclists tend to be better off economically than many other athletes. A cyclist who attends events like this on average makes around $70K per year, and that's a lot compared with the average earnings of say skiers or riders, for example... There are many events like this around New England and riders will make the annual trip, often with their cycling groups, to take part in such rides year after year. I personally travel with my cycling group most weekends in the summer," said Janet Bumstead, Vermont Challenge organizer. Participants also tend to bring fans along with them for the event, she said, guessing that about 3-6 family and/or friends on average that accompany each althlete.

The founder of The Vermont Challenge is long-time second homeowner and avid cyclist, John Sohikian. "We have owned a home in Vermont for almost 20 years and we just love the landscape and the people of Vermont," he said. "The Vermont Challenge combines both our love of bicycling and Vermont to bring you the very best of both experiences. Vermont offers some of the best bicycling routes America has to offer. The routes that you'll travel include some of our favorite roads. We, the team at The Vermont Challenge, in conjunction with the resorts of Stratton, Okemo and Killington along with the towns of Manchester, Ludlow and Killington welcome you to experience Vermont on two wheels with us. Savor our fine cuisine, smell the wildflowers and green grass and laugh with the warm and friendly people."

Sohikian designed the routes so that cyclists will have the chance to ride over Vermont's legendary "Gaps" crossing the spine of the Green Mountains with stunning vistas in each direction as well as cruise through classic New England villages each day. Three ride options are offered: The 4-day Grand Challenge, the 3-day Weekend Challenge or the 1-day Legendary "Gap" Century, where riders will complete 100 miles in a single day.

The Grand Challenge

The Grand Challenge, the signature tour, begins at Stratton on Wednesday evening, Aug 15. Riders then continue to Manchester, Okemo and Killington before returning to Stratton on Sunday, Aug. 19. Cyclist will have the option of completing a century ride on Saturday, Aug. 18 that crosses the Brandon Gap, one of Vermont's six legendary gaps across the Green Mountains before finishing that day at Killington's Wobbly Barn.

The Weekend Challenge
Short on time? Choose the Weekend Challenge, which begins Thursday evening, Aug. 16 in Manchester and finishes back at Stratton on Sunday, Aug. 19. This route, like the Grand Tour, provides cyclists with the option of completing a century ride across the Brandon Gap. Transportation back to Manchester on Sunday will be provided.

The One-Day Legendary Gap Century & Half Century
Can't take a day off from work? Ride the one-day Legendary Gap Century, which begins and ends at Okemo on Saturday, Aug. 18 and crosses the legendary Middlebury Gap before returning to Okemo's Jackson Gore resort for a big after-ride lunch and party.

Not ready to ride a full century? Choose the Half Century option, which leaves Okemo and heads for the picture post-card village of Woodstock before looping through roads along the Black River before returning to the festivities at Jackson Gore.

While there are no time limits, and this is not a race. The Vermont Challenge is not designed for beginners. For the shorter routes, it is recommended that riders be capable of maintaining an average pace of over 12.5 mph and ride 30-40 miles on a regular basis. Riders wishing to take on the century should be able to maintain an average pace of over 15 mph and have excellent bike handling skills.

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Tagged: The Grand Challenge, Vermont Challenge