Bikes, Blackflies and Beer
by Elizabeth Folwell
Sure, there was snow on Whiteface, Mount Marcy and Algonquin Peak on Memorial Day. But that true harbinger of Adirondack spring is in the air too.
Blackflies have arrived inside the Blue Line—first the slow-moving, mildly annoying but not bloodthirsty males and now the persistent, biting females. With recent heavy precipitation filling the streams from which they emerge and higher temperatures on the way these insects are bound to color Adirondack adventures for the next few weeks. Some folks regard the temporary tattoo of tiny punctures a red badge of courage, and a few outdoor events give the pests their due.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That thinking—plus several cold ones at Drake’s tavern in Inlet 18 years ago—turned the winged scourge into a wild ride for two-wheelers. The grueling Black Fly Challenge is Saturday, June 8. The 40-mile mountain-bike race through the Moose River Plains begins in Indian Lake this year. The route includes some state highway, the Cedar River Road and a lot of dirt with curves, hills and backcountry beauty. Ninety cyclists tested themselves on the course that first year, and the third year was so incredibly wet that contestants found themselves pedaling through rivers, suffering from hypothermia and praying for a break in the deluge. Rescue vehicles got stuck in the mud. Conditions for 2013 will depend on the weather, of course, but the logistics and management of this classic contest are ready to deal with whatever comes along. You may register in advance or on race day from 8:00-10:00 a.m. at Byron Park, Indian Lake, and the start time is 10:30 a.m. There are lots of excellent prizes awarded at the 3:00 p.m. party in Inlet.
In Long Lake, the five-kilometer road and trail race Running from the Flies is Sunday, June 9 at 10:00 a.m. John Dillon Park, with pretty Grampus Lake at its center, is the site of the event sponsored by Long Lake Parks & Recreation, International Paper and Paul Smith’s College. Last year about three dozen runners of all ages braved the bugs, skirted wetlands, scrambled gravel and duff-covered trails and walked away with stories to tell plus commemorative T-shirts. You can register in advance for $15 or sign up on race day for $20 by contacting Long Lake Parks at (518) 624-3077.
Shortly after the solstice there’s another special event in honor of the blessed vermin: the Black Fly Craft Beer-Making Camp. On June 28-30 Great Camp Sagamore, in Raquette Lake, will host workshops, critiques of your home brew and the chance to hike, paddle or relax in an Adirondack chair at the height of bug season. The weekend begins with a meal and beer pairing aboard the William West Durant, which motors along fast enough and far enough from shore to avoid turning its passengers into prey.
Want to know more about all-terrain biking in the Moose River Plains or locally made insect repellent? Grab a copy of Adirondack Life‘s 2013 Annual Guide to the Great Outdoors, available at newsstands or as a complete digital edition at www.adirondacklife.com. For a closer look at the thriving local craft beer scene read the feature “Keg Party” in the March/April 2013 issue.