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September 26, 2013

Bike race, beer on tap in Cooperstown

Staff Report
The Daily Star

---- — The second annual Drops to Hops bike race is set for Saturday in Cooperstown. 

The “hops” part of the name refers to Brewery Ommegang, which, along with the Clark Sports Center, is presenting the event. And “drops,” for the uninitiated, is short for drop handlebars — the sort often seen on touring or racing bikes. 

The race is presented by the Clark Sports Center in partnership with the brewery. The event is divided into two individual races, both of which will begin and end at Brewery Ommegang. The race is open to riders ages 16 and older; beer will be served at the party for those who are 21 or older. 

Race Director Doug McCoy of the Clark Sports Center said response has been great for this year’s event, having already surpassed last year’s total of 124 riders. 

“We passed last year’s number on Sunday, so we’re at about 165, 170,” McCoy said Wednesday afternoon. 

The race is divided into two categories, with registrations evenly split between the two, McCoy said. The “A” field will take experienced riders in a 43-mile loop as far north as Roseboom (nearly to Cherry Valley) and as far south as Milford.

The “B” field is a 23-mile loop designed for riders of various levels on county roads. Licensed riders will not be permitted in the “B” race, which McCoy called “an everyday Joe kind of race.” 

McCoy got the idea for Drops to Hops after noticing how popular cycling seemed to be in the region. 

“Every corner or every street that you ride on, you see someone on a bike,” McCoy observed. “And I’ve always heard people say that they wish there would be a race in this area.” 

Partnering with Ommegang for the event was “a natural fit,” McCoy said. “Belgian-style beer with bicycling just seemed like a good idea.” 

Riders will set off from the brewery in staggered groups at about 10 a.m. Saturday, with the bulk crossing the finish line between 11:30 and noon, McCoy estimated. Greeting riders will be a live band, and the brewery’s cafe will be open for refreshments. Riders ages 21 and older will receive drink tickets for free beer, and awards will be given out to the top finishers for each race. 

McCoy said the race draws riders from throughout the Northeast, with many locals participating as well. 

“I’ve taken several phone calls from husbands who are going to race, and they want to know if there’s anything in the area for their wives to do, so of course we direct them toward Cooperstown,” McCoy said, noting that the race is a good draw to bring people to the area. 

McCoy said he has been pleased by the response so far, and is looking forward to seeing Drops to Hops continue to grow in the years to come. 

“The first year, we were both apprehensive; it’s my first bike race that I’ve directed, so I didn’t know what to expect. I knew the idea was cool, just from being hooked up with the brewery, but I’ve heard a lot of people say that 120 people for the first race is just about unheard of,” McCoy said. “And Ommegang is totally on board — it’s a great business to work. 

McCoy said riders can expect a scenic and pleasant time on Saturday. 

“I just drove the course again today, and the leaves ... are just coming into full,” McCoy noted. “And Saturday is supposed to be gorgeous weather.”

To register for Drops to Hops, or for more information,visit clarksportscenter.com/events/drops-to-hops/ or search for “Drops to Hops” on bikereg.com.