Destination Vermont: A Bike Festival for All

The first annual! Patricia Lyon-Surrey photo

Upon his death, long-time cyclist and fitness enthusiast Charlie Semprebon left a significant amount of money to the city of Barre, Vermont. His bequest was designated to sponsor events to promote healthy lifestyle and community awareness. The result was the first annual Barre Bike and Fitness Festival held in  late May. This new 3-day event  attracted fitness buffs and bike enthusiasts from far and wide and had outdoor activites for everyone!

For the very young there was a gala street parade with materials provided for decorating bicycles and tricycles.

Kids got to ride their decorated wheels in the Barre Bike Parade. ( Susan McDowell photo)

The Millstone Trails Association offered FREE guided mountain bike tours at its acclaimed trail network in Barre Town for beginning riders, families, and intermediate level riders.

For the non-bicycle-riders there were yoga and jazzercise classes. and a running race.

Though the focus of the festival was on getting people to move their bodies, the whole town seemed to come together to provide a fun week-end for everyone. Studio Place Arts Center worked with 11 to 17-year-olds to produce a mosaic sculpture made from an old bicycle. Magic Wheel  Community Bike Center, which recycles bikes from donations, held  a yard sale of bikes and used sports equipment; and the Vermont Transportation  Bicycle Pedestrian Program manager  showed a slide show about a team of United States transportation professionals who visited five countries in Europe to identify and assess effective approaches to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety and mobility.

Athletes of all abilities competed in various races at the Barre Bike and Fitness festival. (Patricia Lyon-Surrey photo)

The week-end culminated with the excitement of a USA Cycling sanctioned  criterium through the streets of Barre, deemed the Charlie Semprebon Memorial bike race. In fact there were 8 different races in this criterium open to citizen riders, as well as to elite amateur athletes and professional cyclists.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful every town in every state would sponsor a week-end to promote moving your body and keeping streets safe for pedestrians and cyclist?

If your community or state sponsors a similar event, support them with your time and donations. If it doesn’t, contact your local bike stores, fitness clubs, and  local chambers of commerce to get this idea floating around. It’s good for individuals and communities!

And, of course,  come on up to Barre, Vermont next year when they hold their second annual Barre Bike and Fitness event and Charlie Semprebon Memorial Bike Race!! If you want to visit this lovely region of Vermont, start with the Central Vermont section of,  or the Central VT Chamber of Commerce, and be prepared to find all sorts of wonderful outdoor (and other) adventures.

Future racers waiting for the peleton to go by. ( Patricia Lyon-Surrey photo)

The peleton! (Patricia Lyon-Surrey photo)


About Patricia Lyon-Surrey

Pat loves being in the outdoors whether it is cross country skiing, hiking, biking, kayaking or just staring at trees and birds. In the 80's she biked the state of Vermont in one day--200 miles from Canada to Massachusetts. Those days are over but she plans on keeping her license plate, IBIKE and biking and hiking until she is 90+. More info about Pat: or