On Saturday June 9, 2018, nearly 1,000 cyclists will line up at Inlet’s Arrowhead Park to race through the Moose River Plains to Indian Lake School as part of the Black Fly Challenge ~ Adirondack Mountain Bike Race. Entering its twenty-third year the Black Fly has grown into one of the biggest bicycle races in the Eastern U.S. and is an annual tradition for recreational and competitive cyclists throughout the Northeast.
While the Black Fly Challenge is now one of the premier ‘gravel grinder’ races in the U.S., it started as a small mountain bike race in 1996. The intent of BFC founders was simply to sell more beer and rent more bikes in the June shoulder season but the mission of the race has since evolved. As the race grew the focus changed to maintaining, developing and promoting local bike trails. Now, with years of sustained success and financial stability the Black Fly Challenge mission has expanded to include giving back to the communities that make the race possible.
In the past two years alone Black Fly Challenge has donated or dedicated over $30,000 to various community organizations and projects. In addition, BFC has spent nearly $4,000 on race-related trail improvements since 2013. The Black Fly also supported the Inlet Area Business Association through a years-long reorganization process that successfully concluded with IABA regaining its 501c6 tax status and financial solvency.
The Inlet and Indian Lake ambulance corps and fire departments are critical components of the Black Fly race, providing emergency medical services, safety logistics and feeding over 1,000 hungry racers and spectators every year. BFC donations to those organizations totaled $16,730 for 2016-17.
Other organizations that received BFC donations over the past two years include: Kiwanis of the Central Adirondacks ($1,300); Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce ($600); Big Moose Ambulance ($600); St. Mary’s Church of Indian Lake ($300); and Indian Lake Central School ($200).
Because safety is paramount Black Fly Challenge has donated $2,000 for local amateur radio infrastructure that is used for BFC logistics and safety communications. This radio equipment is also available for use by the Adirondack Canoe Classic and other Public Safety needs in the region.
In June 2018 the first Black Fly Scholarships will be awarded to Inlet and Indian Lake students. Scholarship details are still being finalized but it is expected the scholarships will be at least $300 each and related to outdoor recreation.
On top of all this, Black Fly Challenge recently set aside $10,000 to establish dedicated funds for both Inlet and Indian Lake. Each fund was seeded with $5,000 and will provide financial assistance to worthy outdoor recreation projects in both towns. A portion of race proceeds will be dedicated to replenish and/or add to the Black Fly Funds each year.
While giving so much back to the communities may seem impressive it would not be possible without the outstanding contributions of the communities themselves. To properly staff the Black Fly Challenge on race day requires over 100 volunteers – and that doesn’t include the two fire departments, three ambulance corps and multiple police agencies that are involved.
The Black Fly Challenge has not only connected the towns of Inlet and Indian Lake but fostered an amazing spirit of cooperation between the numerous people and organizations necessary to produce the event. Black Fly organizers and volunteers take pride in putting on a great event for racers and fans. Steady leadership by the race organizers has resulted in the ability to pay that dedication forward – and the Black Fly Challenge has become a great event not just for the racers but also for the communities of Inlet and Indian Lake.
The 23rd annual Black Fly Challenge is Saturday June 9, 2018.