After Ominous Forecast, Putnam Bike Races Postponed

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The Village of Brewster was barren last Saturday after the Putnam Cycling Classic and Tour De Putnam were postponed to next Sunday. PROVIDED BY ERIN MEAGHER
The Village of Brewster was barren last Saturday after the Putnam Cycling Classic and Tour De Putnam were postponed to next Sunday.

After originally canceling the event, Putnam Tourism announced a new date for the Putnam Cycling Classic.

At first, in conjunction with other county and town departments involved in the all day event, Putnam Tourism decided to call off the event completely last Wednesday morning because of a forecast of rain, thunderstorms, and even possible hail last Saturday. But less than 12 hours after it was called off, the tourism department changed direction and announced it was only postponed; with the new date this Sunday, May 18.

“First thing we had to do was cancel it based on safety concerns,” tourism director Libby Pataki said. “Then we felt that we had worked so hard and had so much infrastructure in place for the race that we wanted to have all those resources and assets at our disposal and not have the whole race wiped out.”

Last Thursday, Putnam Tourism sent out a notice, which in part “deeply and sincerely” apologized for the original cancellation. It also said because of the change date, the event would only offer the Putnam Cycling Classic 62 mile ride and the Tour De Putnam 14 mile ride, along with the Putnam Pasta Picnic in the afternoon.

The Cycling Classic will still have a timed start and finish, but won’t have a timed climb or time trial.

The department also scrapped plans for the 100-mile cycling classic and the 24-mile Tour De Putnam course, instead opting for the reduced rides.

The last line of the notice also stated registered participants not able to take part in the races would be able to get a full refund. When the tourism department first pulled the plug on the event, it said participants wouldn’t be able to get a refund, but instead it would carry over for the following year’s race.

Pataki said her department got plenty of feedback from the more serious riders when it was cancelled because most professional races are held rain or shine. But Pataki pointed out the event planners also had to consider families with children that were riding in the Tour De Putnam, the more laidback race of the two.

“People were upset because it was only a few days out and I felt terrible about that,” Pataki said. “I really felt bad about any inconvenience that this caused, but any outdoor, weather affected event always carries some risk.”

The village board in Brewster, which had to give the county permission to hold the event on the new rain date, unanimously approved the new date at its meeting last Wednesday.

Mayor Jim Schoenig stressed the importance of the race for the village. With training and resources already put in place for the race from the village and businesses in the area, village trustees agreed postponing the race, rather than not having one at all was the best option.

“We have a lot invested in this,” he said.

Pataki said while her department received some complaints, she also got calls from riders who understood weather can occasionally ruin plans.

And while Pataki had no choice but to cancel the races this past weekend, she has to holdout hope the weather forecast is better this time around. She said she would be monitoring the weather throughout the week.

“We hope it proceeds without any more snafus,” Pataki said. “But we’re not gods, we don’t know what nature will do.”


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