Tunbridge Cycling Event a ‘Fun-raiser’

  • Cyclist Robert Boody rides along a portion of the route in Tunbridge for this Sunday's Ranger Ride, a benefit for the Alliance for Vermont Communities.

  • From left, Mitchell Fogg, Robert Boody, Dick Drummond, Jesse Norris and Jonathon Nelson take a break in Strafford during a recent test ride of the Ranger Ride route. The event, held this Sunday 32- and 16-mile options and benefits the non-profit Alliance for Vermont Communities.

Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Alliance for Vermont Communities was founded last year to protect the farms and forests of Royalton, Tunbridge, Strafford and Sharon. Now the organization is inviting everyone to see first-hand what makes them special.

The first Ranger Ride begins and ends on Sunday at Tunbridge World’s Fairgrounds, featuring 32- and 16-mile cycling courses through the towns’ scenic back roads.

AVC board member and event di rector Alex Buskey designed both courses. The longer one entails nearly 4,300 feet of elevation gain, and the shorter more than 2,150. The routes are primarily gravel and dirt and include roughly three miles of Class IV roads.

The Alliance for Vermont Communities was formed specifically to oppose NewVista, the envisioned 5,000-acre community that would house up to 20,000 residents near the birthplace of Mormon founder Joseph Smith.

NewVista developer David Hall, a multimillionaire from Utah, so far has purchased nearly 1,600 acres of land in the four towns that he hopes to incorporate into the project, which has met stern opposition from some residents along with statewide environmental and conservation groups.

Montpelier-based Vermont Natural Resource Council and Burlington nonprofit Preservation Trust of Vermont have pledged to join AVC in challenging NewVista and any of its efforts to weaken or repeal Act 250. Act 250 allows district commissions to decide whether to issue permits for large developments based on their potential impact to broader town and regional plans and elements such as aesthetics, agriculture and the environment.

Much of Ranger Ride’s routes traverse lands AVC deems threatened by NewVista.

“We were talking about an event to do this summer, and this type of ride is something I’d been thinking about,” said Buskey, 26, a Lebanon native who’s lived in South Royalton for three years. “I think it’s a great way to show people why this area is so worth protecting. The back roads and their wooded areas and farms are so critical to the area. They’re a big part of why I love living here, and I think Ranger Ride will be a way for everyone to explore them.”

Ranger Ride isn’t a race. In fact, AVC personnel hopes riders will slow down to enjoy the many brilliant views of the rolling Vermont hillsides featured along the routes. The competitive-minded may utilize a mobile GPS app during a pair of Class IV “enduro sections” to be timed and posted for viewing after the race.

“We’re calling it a fun-raiser, because we really want people to enjoy the landscape without suffering a whole lot,” Buskey said. “But we know some people will want to go hard on the Class IV sections and know how fast they made it.”

Forty-nine riders had pre-registered as of Tuesday by visiting www.bikereg.com/the-ranger. Registration on the day of the event also will be available.

“Talking to other people from around the state, that’s a pretty good number for a first-year event,” said Buskey, a former competitive motocross athlete. “We’re hoping to get around 100 total.”

The event includes what should be a swinging after-party, from 1-5 p.m. at the fairgrounds. Billed as “Party in the Pasture,” the lineup includes live music from Sensible Shoes, a jam band, and Haywire, a string outfit.

Also featured are barbeque, pizza and ice cream vendors and the debut of Together We Can, a collaborative Vermont summer ale produced by Tunbridge microbreweries Brocklebank and Upper Pass.

A portion of the proceeds from beer sales also will benefit the Alliance for Vermont Communities.

“If you don’t ride a bike, I think it would definitely still be worth it to come for the after-party,” Buskey said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.