Black Fly Challenge vs. Pedaling4Pups

black fly challenge
Listen: Black Fly Challenge vs. Pedaling4Pups

In the red corner, weighing in at a lengthy 40-miles long, the "Gruesome Gravel Grinder," the "Annihilator at Arrowhead," it's the Black Fly Challenge (TV audience "booo"). 

And, in the blue corner, barely making it through his 20-mile training ride, the pedaler of the people and founder of team "Pedaling4Puppies," Clint Fontanella! (TV audience golf clap) 

In this heavyweight match, I'll take on New York's Black Fly Challenge. A 40-mile race through the Adirondacks that covers more than 2,500 ft of elevation gain. 

Let me tell you a little more about it and what I'm doing to get ready.

The ultimate bikepacking checklist

North Country Subaru Black Fly Challenge

The Black Fly Challenge is a gravel bike race through the Adirondack mountains in central New York. It begins on June 8th in Arrowhead Park, crosses through the Adirondack mountain range, and finishes around Indian Lake School. 

 black fly race map


In total, it's 40 miles of racing with over 2,500 ft of elevation gain. That means I am going to ride my bike uphill over 2,000 ft. The terrain is mostly gravel roads that wind through the woods, isolating the riders to limited water stations and breakpoints. It's similar riding to what I did on the Great Divide, but at a much faster pace — and with much less weight on the bike. 

Return of the Mack

To prep for this race, I needed to call on an old friend -- Apollo. Once again, he'll be my trusted sidekick and I couldn't ask for a better wheelman at the helm. Apollo has kept in shape since our last journey and is eager to get back out on the gravel for another bikepacking adventure. This time, we have the need for speed, so I've been adjusting my training regime and bike setup to account for this new challenge. 

Rather than carrying saddlebags, water tanks, and camping gear, Apollo has been stripped down to his bones, carrying only a few water bottles, a mount for my phone, and a back rack that I bent into place on Day 1 of my Great Divide Adventure -- hasn't budged since. 

It's also important to note that Apollo is an illegal bike. He does not qualify for either the mountain bike or hybrid category. While is still eligible to compete, he can't claim any prizes if he wins -- except for the title of "Bad Boy of Bike Racing."

Lowering (to) the Bar

For those who might have glossed over that last detail, I by no means expect to win this race. I just found it very funny that the race director told me my bike was illegal and that I would be disqualified for prizes if I won. 

My goal is to survive the race. I want to finish before they make me sign a liability waiver because they're shutting down the course. I want to make it to the afterparty before the bar closes. Heck, if I'm going to cheat, I might as well put a motor on my bike and go for it all. 

Needless to say, it's been a while since I've been in the saddle and I have some training to do before race day. There's not much time, but we didn't train for the last adventure and look at how well that worked out (Shameless Blog Plug).

I'll keep you updated on how things work out. Until then, wish me luck. If we win, I'll give all my prizes to the pups.

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