PLATTSBURGH - Each year gets bigger and better.
The Tour de Rand Hill 14-mile bike race will be held Saturday, July 17, beginning at 9 a.m., with proceeds benefitting the YMCA's scholarships to Camp Jericho.
When the race began in 2005, there were only 10 participants, all men. Now, six years later, the number of participants has continued to increase, with women also taking part.
"You're seeing faster times and more competitors because road biking has just really taken off," explained race organizer Patti Warner.
The bike race begins at the YMCA on Oak Street, continues down State Route 374, then turns and heads up Rand Hill Road, ending near Camp Jericho in Altona.
"We have such wonderful support from the mayor, city police, state police, sheriff's department, volunteers and the staff here and our sponsors," said Warner.
Despite the rather difficult uphill ride, Warner has also noticed record times being recorded every year.
Last year's winner for the men was Bruce Beauharnois, with a time of 39:58.
"I had all I could do to get up there with my car [in that time]," laughed Warner.
However, not everyone participates in the race with the goal of winning. There is also a Fun Division for which people can sign up.
"We've always had a Fun Division so that people do not have to race it," said Warner. "They can ride casually, enjoy the scenery, socialize."
Others participate for their own personal goals.
Ron Nolland, the only person to take part in every race since it began, admits he is usually towards the back of the pack, but continues to do the race anyway.
Nolland took up bike riding as a way to stay in shape for spin class and said he "just became committed to it."
"It's a challenge," he said. "Now it's become a personal [goal] every year to do it and try to beat my time from last years."
"For a lot of people to say that, 'I went and rode up Rand Hill,' is a big deal," added Nolland.
Having been at the finish line every year to watch the bikers finish, Warner has found it doesn't matter what place you finish.
"When the last people come in, the first people are just as happy for them," she said. "It's very good camaraderie."
Registration is currently taking place for the Tour de Rand Hill. The cost is $20 for YMCA members and $25 for non-members.
For more information, contact the YMCA at 561-4290. The first 25 people to register will receive a free T-shirt.