Pro cyclist creates an event for all

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Coasting downhill into Altamont on Monday is Tyler Wren, a professional cyclist who lives in Rensselaerville. Wren has been a pro rider for 13 seasons, traveling the world, and is currently a member of Team Jamis. Wren is one of the lead organizers for the first annual Rensselaerville Cycling Festival on Sept. 28.

The first annual Rensselaerville Cycling Festival is scheduled for Sept. 28 and Tyler Wren, of Rensselaerville, seen here during one of his professional races, was a major player in organizing the event. The festivals tagline is “Let’s Go Ride a Bike,” and it’s hosted by the Carey Institute for Global Good.

Tyler Wren biked all the way from Rensselaerville on Monday to talk to The Enterprise about the first annual Rensselaerville Cycling Festival, coming up in September.

Wren, 33, of Rensselaerville, but originally from Philadelphia, said it took him about an hour to bike the 25 or so miles to Altamont. Later, Wren would have to bike all the way back, mostly uphill — and some of that is quite steep — but he said it would take only 20 to 30 minutes longer.

“If it has ‘hill’ in the name, it’s probably best to be avoided,” said Wren, a member of the Jamis Hagens Berman Professional Cycling team; he has raced internationally for the last 13 seasons. “But, if you’re looking for a workout…”

Some of Wren’s cycling victories include winning a stage of the Tour of Chile, winning the King of the Mountains jersey at the United States Championships twice, and being a four-time collegiate champion for Princeton University. Upon moving to Rensselaerville a few years ago — his wife, Jennifer, had to transfer to Albany for work — Wren realized how great this area was for biking.

“It’s amazing; the scenery, challenging terrain, number of road options, and lack of traffic,” said Wren, decked out in his Team Jamis gear. “There’s a million routes to choose from and most of them are fantastic.”

A comment like that can mean a lot from a world-class rider.

“I moved here during November and rode during the winter, not seeing any other cyclists until spring time,” Wren said on Monday. “Not a lot of people know about it, even in the Capital Region. They don’t see all of the beautiful roads around here, so it’s the perfect area to show off.”

With Wren’s professional cycling career winding down — he says if he’s not done this year, then it’ll be next year — his desire to organize events has increased. Dave Warburton and John Kosich, also cyclists from Rensselaerville, but not professional, had wanted an event in town for a while, Wren said, but they couldn’t get any organizers to bite.

Wren has a ton of contacts in the sport, so he was the missing connection that the Rensselaerville Cycling Festival needed.

“The three of us got together and it was this perfect storm, like, ‘Let’s do this,’” said Wren. “We went all in with a lot of time and energy.”

The first annual Rensselaerville Cycling Festival is on Sept. 28, and is hosted by the Carey Institute for Global Good. Some of Wren’s Jamis teammates will be there, and there will be a series of competitive time trials, but Wren wanted this event to be diverse.

“People are looking for a different challenge,” Wren said. “The traditional race is starting to bore people.”

Wren wanted to create a big event that has a lot of people with high production value — large start and finish, announcers and bands, pro riders and enthusiasts, and a challenging course — but to make it accessible to anyone and everyone.

The RCF will have a non-competitive eight-mile ride, as well as distances of 25, 55, and 84 miles. It will also offer a gourmet barbecue with locally-sourced ingredients, Helderberg Brewshed sampling of locally-brewed beer, a market featuring local vendors, and a bike rodeo and corral.

“You’ll get a free beer when you cross over the line, and that’s always nice after a tough ride,” said Wren. “It’s more focused on the fun — the ice cream stops, the wine and chocolate stops — and the beautiful views. It’s not a proper race. It might be a challenge, but anyone can get out there.”

The postcard sent out for the RCF reads: “Join us in Rensselaerville, New York, for a thrilling ride, a local brew, and one hell of a party.” The event will bring the Hilltowns together, but Wren said that people from across the Northeast have signed up.

“It is widely known that the success of almost any endurance sports event can be credited to the dedication, creativity, and enthusiasm of its volunteers,” said Wren. “In order to truly show our appreciation for the hard work of our volunteers, we've created a competition that will give them a chance to win cash prizes for charitable organizations of their choosing.”

Wren, who recently got ninth place at the National Championships, said he loves the cycling lifestyle of being outside, being fit, and traveling the world. His office is the open road, and his desk is his bike.

Before cycling took over his life and became his career, Wren used to be passionate about running. His affection for riding killed that.

“You can go a lot further, see a lot more, go faster, and enjoy descents,” said Wren. “There’s the whole bike handling element, so your bike can feel like an extension of you.”

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