CHENANGO COUNTY – In honor of the Tour de France, the annual cross country cycling race which is taking place currently - which began on July 2, and is scheduled to end on July 24 – Chenango County now has their own version of the Internationally famous race, The Tour de Chenango County.
Rob Baker, a Sherburne-Earlville graduate and retired United States Marine of 25-years, now lives on his farm in Plymouth. When not home, Baker finds himself headlining local movements toward increased participation in Mountain Biking and the outdoors – most recently, this trial run in the summer of 2016, in hopes of generating enough interest to create, maintain, and grow this event for years to come.
Baker, a Mountain Biking enthusiast, most recently started The Chenango Composite Team, a team of middle and high school athletes from all across Chenango County, who participated and completed their first season in the New York Mountain Bike League of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA).
Currently the Chenango Composite team is only recognized as a club sport, something Baker and fellow coach, Boris Trifunovic, from Greene, hope to change for future seasons. With his first season of coaching under his belt, The Chenango Composite Team, Baker explained how he has now set his sights on yet another goal in the Mountain Biking realm.
“I'm a huge Tour de France fan, or anything to do with bicycles. I started talking about doing something similar last year with some of my buddies here who like to ride. I actually rode three of the four days last year, but instead over separate months.”
2016 now marks the first year that Baker has successfully taken his idea and transformed it into something his own, a localized bicycle tour of every town in Chenango County.
“It was a proof of concept year, to prove that it can be done,” said Baker. “Four days in a row was a challenge for myself, day four was the hottest day and the hills between Norwich and Coventry via Guilford was a real challenge. I was a hurting pup.”
Baker explained that, unlike the Tour de France, which obviously stretches over a larger span of time and distance – The Tour de Chenango County does not run as a consecutive race with stopping points along the way. Instead, The Tour de Chenango County starts and finishes at the same point each day, with Baker taking a different route each morning he departed.