Annual Bike-N-Fly Returns To Great Barrington Airport
The 7th annual Berkshire Bike-N-Fly fair kicks off Saturday in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
It started as part of the 250th anniversary of the town of Great Barrington.
“Ever since then, it has grown by leaps and bounds,” Stanley says.
Organizer Richard Stanley, from the Great Barrington Rotary Club, says the event attracts more than 2,500 people to the town airport.
“What it’s really done is become a family day,” Stanley says. “Great Barrington used to have a huge agricultural fair many years ago. And that probably stopped about 15, 20 years ago, and the Bike-N-Fly in many ways has taken the place of that event.”
Basically, Stanley says, this is the town’s county fair.
“Often people would come out with their beach chairs and spend the day because there is so much to do and see,” Stanley says.
There will be air shows, helicopter and hot air balloon rides, music performances, farm and food vendors – Organizer Mark DeCelle says some people fly into the airport in their vintage planes just to show off.
“Planes from all around New York and New England, and I think we have even had them come from as far as Pennsylvania,” DeCelle says.
Pilots encourage families and children to climb into the cockpit and check out their wheels… and wings.
“You got guys with these old bi-planes that are coming in, sea plane – all kinds of cool stuff; stuff with the engine on the top, stuff you’ve never seen before,” DeCelle says.
Organizer John Benedict says the day now includes 20-, 35- and 52-mile bike courses. It’s not necessarily a race…
“We don’t have timing chips. You can take your time. You can stop at the water stops – we have Boy Scouts that attend the three of the water stops. You can stop and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with bananas,” Benedict says. “You don’t have to race it.”
Benedict expects roughly 200 cyclists to participate, racing down the runway. However, the 52-mile bike course has about 2,800 feet of elevation to climb, which may not be for children or the faint of heart.
“We have some people who have done it, every year for five years,” Benedict says.
Nearby Berkshire Bike and Board will have bikes for rent, including bikes with electric assisted pedaling. Some people are true Bike-N-Fly’ers: They come in on their private planes, land, get out a folding bike and pedal away.
World-record holding mountain biker Jeff Lenosky from Sparta, New Jersey is coming, too.
“Brings a van with an elaborate setup and he does this demonstration: bunny hopping, and climbing, and he ends up on top his van, and he goes down these 7-foot drops,” Benedict says. “He has kids lie on the ground and he touches his front tire on their nose and he jumps over kids.”
Proceeds go to the Great Barrington Rotary’s Scholarship Fund, which awarded $60,000 to area high school students last year. The event runs from 9 to 4 Saturday.
By way of disclosure, WAMC News’ Berkshire Bureau is located in the Beacon Cinema building in Pittsfield, which is owned by Stanley.
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