by Jesse Mast
For cycling fanatics of all ages and all skill levels, the annual Raccoon Rally Cycling Festival is the place to be June 29-30. The weekend-long event will be held at Allegany State Park’s Camp Allegany, inside the Red House area.
Allegany State Park Manager Gary Quattrone said the Raccoon Rally has been held at the state park since the early 1990s, and people come “from all over” to participate. Not only is it a good time for the athletes, the event is beneficial for the park as well, as many people stay in cabins and campsites and “spend the weekend,” Quattrone said.
The action begins Saturday at 9:30 a.m. with a road race sanctioned by USA Cycling. Cyclists in this race will share state park roads with other vehicles in a 25-mile circuit. One-day USAC licenses for the race may be obtained on-site.
Cyclists opting for more rugged terrain may be interested in mountain bike events throughout the weekend. Mountain bike trials will be held Saturday morning at Thunder Rocks. Cyclists of varying classes, including Beginner, Sport, Expert and Pro, will test out their skill against the unrelenting rocks.
The mountain bike trials begin at 10 a.m. Thunder Rocks is located five miles from Camp Allegany off ASP Route 2.
Mountain bike events continue Sunday with a cross-country race along the Art Roscoe Trail. The hilly trail is sure to be a challenge for Beginner and Expert classes alike. The Beginner class race is 13 miles and begins at 10 a.m. Start time for the 30-mile Expert class race is 10:30 a.m. The Sport class races 25 miles and begins at 10:32 a.m.
An awards ceremony will follow the mountain bike race. Medals will be awarded three deep in age groups for each division in the mountain bike race, and cash prizes will go to the top five Experts. In addition, the first male and female racer to reach the Summit Area water station will be awarded prizes and declared King and Queen of the Mountain. The awards ceremony will also include raffle and door prizes.
The weekend will wind down with children’s races at 2 p.m., which are free for all children to participate. Registration for these races is at 1 p.m. Prizes will be awarded to overall finishers.
Event T-shirts will be on sale throughout the weekend until sold out.
Helmets are mandatory in all events. Entry fees are $30 per race, except Beginner class in the mountain bike race, which is $25. Athletes who preregister may race in two events for $50. Proceeds from the Raccoon Rally will be used to support HEART animal shelters, as well as the Allegany Nordic Ski Patrol, an association of skiers who work to improve the Art Roscoe Trail.
Registration for the Raccoon Rally is available online at www.heartrateup.com or at Camp Allegany the day of the event. Registration for mountain bike trials is at 9 a.m. at Thunder Rocks.
No one will be turned away from participating, so get ready for an intense weekend of racing.