For the past nine years, upstate resident Glen Goldstein has organized the North Fork Century bicycle ride through the North Fork — with options of a 100-mile full century, a 72-mile ride, a 50 mile ride, or a 25-mile route. Everyone starts together and riders can decide which distance they want to do in the middle of the ride.
This year, Goldstein was planning that same event — a winding ride for about 1,000 cyclists starting and ending at — on Aug. 26. He was also planning a night ride for about 500 people starting at on Sept. 30. Goldstein organized one of these night rides on 2010 but canceled last year’s plan.
asked Goldstein to apply this year for permits for both events, and at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, board members voted to table the resolution to permit the August ride and denied a permit for the night ride. At work session early that day, Chief Martin Flatley said he was concerned about safety as more bikers pile onto the roads during these events.
Board members also had concerns about allowing for-profit enterprises onto local roads — even though portions of the money collected from riders goes back into the community in the form of a fundraiser for the a scholarship for Greenport High School and local businesses that the organization and the bikers use while they are here, according to Goldstein.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he felt it was time, with ever-increasing use of local roads, that he and the board look at what road races they should approve and not approve.
“We need to decide if we need to start declining certain requests and limit races to real not-for-profits,” Russell said.
The board has always approved the use of roads for races like the and the both of which directly benefit the schools, and the which raised over $25,000 for wounded veterans last year. But Goldstein’s rides, where riders pay $87 to $250 to participate, are not dedicated to one proprietary charity — and organizing the event is what Goldstein does for a living.
“What confuses people sometimes is that whoever organizes all these charity rides, runs, walkathons — all of them get paid as they should, it’s a huge amount of work,” said Goldstein, who lives in Narrowsburg, N.Y. and said he did not know that the Southold Town Board had addressed the North Fork race this week. “But when the Red Cross has an event in a community, that money raised goes away — to D.C., to New York City. What we do — yes, I get paid, it’s what I do for a living. But we leave the money where we ride.”
Members of the Greenport Fire Department are paid to cook the food for the meal after the North Fork Century ride and have made thousands of dollars to benefit the department, Goldstein said. He said that he purchases bagels for the big pre-ride breakfast fromin Southold and this year, he planned to use a portion of the funds for a Greenport High School Scholarship.
“We pay permit fees in Orient, we use produce from for meals, we buy pies galore from , and this year we’ve got sponsoring us,” he continued. “Yes, people are paying money to ride but we like the idea of spending money where we go.”
Chief Flatley said that for future events like this, he’d like to be able to set a limit on the number of bicycle riders allowed to use North Fork roads and would like to see a staggered instead of an all-at-once start. Councilman William Ruland said he views something like the Wounded Warrior ride as an “easily defined” not-for-profit event, but “with this one, you have to question the motivation.”
Goldstein said that he has no doubt he’s doing the right thing for the communities he comes to with the bike rides — he organizes five per year, and two of them are on the North Fork.
“It’s gorgeous out here, but if this can’t happen in Southold this year, it will kill me — everyone loves it,” he said. “Of course we want to work with the town and abide by the rules, and I really do think we’re doing a good thing for every town we go to. For eight years, Southold never asked for permits, and the joke was that no one even knew we were here. I don’t think what we are doing is so bad — we just want to ride our bikes.”