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Break Out Your Bicycles for the 2011 Tour de Farm

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Tour de Farm 2011

Tour de FarmCyclists, get ready! This year’s Tour de Farm bike-a-thon will be held on Sunday, July 17, 2011. The event, a recreational and educational ride to raise funds for land conservation, takes place each year through the efforts of the Agricultural Stewardship Association (ASA) and Saratoga Preserving Land and Nature (P.L.A.N).

Participants can choose between cycling a 15- or 35-mile route, which includes educational stops along historic sites and farms. In addition to showcasing how farms and natural areas along the upper Hudson River Valley provide economic opportunity, fresh food, environmental benefits and recreational assets for the community, the ride also provides an important historical context for visitors to the Saratoga National Historical Park and Battlefield.

Each route will begin and end at the Hand Melon Farm, at 533 Wilbur Ave in Easton, New York. Recreational cyclists will most likely find that the 15-mile ride is suitable; intermediate and advanced riders may want to opt for the more challenging 35-mile route.

The shorter route stays east of the Hudson and has two moderately steep climbs and two miles of gradual incline towards the end. The longer ride crosses the Hudson at Stillwater and enters Saratoga Battlefield before looping back through Schuylerville; the longer ride also includes a two-mile climb leading up to the Battlefield.

Participants can stop for snacks and enjoy educational reenactments of the Revolutionary War, at the sites where they took place. After the ride, cyclists will be treated to a picnic featuring foods and beverages from local farms.

A Bicyclist and a Historical Re-Enactor. Courtesy Saratoga Preserving Land and NatureThe Tour routes are a conservation success story. In Easton, over 5,000 acres of valuable farmland has been or is in the process of being permanently protected by ASA with conservation easements. The 418-acre Hand Melon Farm, in operation for 100 years, is famous for its melons and sweet corn, but also offers fields of pick-your-own strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and vegetables. Owned by John Hand, the farm utilizes a combination of state, federal, and private funding, and is guaranteed to remain a farm once the conservation process is complete. The Hands also board horses, harvest timber and firewood, and have a popular farm stand on Route 29 across from the Washington County Fairground.

Proceeds from the 2011 Tour de Farm will be used by ASA and Saratoga P.L.A.N. to conserve more land and protect the region’s scenic and historical landscape for future generations.

The Tour de Farm is a supported recreational ride, with experienced riders leading and following each group of riders. A bicycle safety check service will also be available. Check-in time for the 35-mile route starts at 8:30am, with the ride beginning at 9am. Those participating in the 15-mile ride can check-in starting at 9:30am, with the ride beginning at 10am.

You’ll definitely want to preregister if you can, as the cost is $10 extra if you register the day of. Preregistration costs are $40 for individuals, $60 for families and $200 for a team of four. Students receive a discounted rate of $20. Riders are also encouraged to raise funds by asking friends and family to sponsor their rides. Visit for more information.

–Lisa M. Boucher is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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