BARRE TOWN — Two men are working on a gravel bike ride they hope will turn into an annual event bringing hundreds of riders who would start and end in Barre Town in October.
At its regular meeting Tuesday night, the Select Board heard from Steve Maas and Phil Kolling, owners of Green Mountain Gravel, a limited liability company based in Graniteville that promotes gravel riding in Vermont — an activity in which people ride on gravel roads using bikes that are a cross between a mountain bike and a road bike. The pair are working on a gravel-ride event that is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 9. The event will feature three rides: an 18-mile course, a 37-mile course and a 60-mile course. All of the courses would start at the town’s picnic shelter at separate times with the goal of having all the riders finish around the same time. The event is planned to run through parts of Brookfield, Chelsea, Corinth, Washington and Williamstown.
The pair said they were at Tuesday’s meeting to get support from the “hosting” town before reaching out to the other towns involved.
Kolling said the plan is to turn this into an annual event. He said there are similar events held around the state, including in Waterbury and in Montpelier.
“We just thought this would be a great spot to have one because we have great gravel roads all over the place. Anything between (routes) 110 and 14 is complete gravel on either side, so there’s a lot of opportunity here. We wanted to bring something to where we live and say, ‘Hey, don’t leave us out,’” Kolling said.
Maas said the routes will overlap as much as possible so riders aren’t using multiple different roads. He said they don’t yet know how many people will attend, but they are capping registration at 300.
“As far as gravel rides in Vermont go, 300 is fairly modest,” he said.
Maas said a similar event in Burke draws around 2,000 people.
Maas said this event will likely have food trucks and caterers, some of whom may serve beer. He said the vendors would be responsible for obtaining liquor licenses.
He said this event would not be a race, it’s a collective ride. He said riders would sign a waiver stating they are riding under their own responsibility and liability.
Maas said riders will be expected to ride single file. He said organizers will patrol the routes to make sure riders aren’t bunching up or someone isn’t having mechanical issues and in need of assistance.
All three routes will follow the bike path from the picnic shelter to Compo Street and then take a left turn onto Graniteville Road. The plan is to close Compo Street the day of the event and position a police officer at the intersection of Graniteville Road to direct traffic. Other town roads that are expected to be used for the event are Lowery Road, Little John Road and Brook Street.
Town officials said they weren’t sure whether the town will charge the company for the use of that officer. The town has a policy in place that dictates what events can be charged for the use of police services.
Assistant Town Manager Elaine Wang said she checked with some towns that have held similar events. Wang said they suggested letting residents on impacted roads know about the event well in advance. She said there are some residents who ride horses on town trails, so riders should know to stop when they encounter someone on a horse.
Wang said there wasn’t much to report for issues related to these events. She said if there are crashes, they tend to be minor and could occur with any bike rider on a road and no cars hitting riders were reported.
Maas said organizers would make the ambulance service aware of the event, but he didn’t think they would need anyone on site.
The board didn’t take any action Tuesday. Board Chair Paul White said the town would need a certificate of insurance from the organizers and to know when the officer would need to conduct traffic control before formally signing off on the event. Though board members said generally they were in support of the event.
White said after learning more about gravel riding, “I think this is the ideal place to do it.”