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Cyclists ride 10 miles, enjoy chili at the end

Carl Belcastro, left, owner of Adventure Cycles &

Carl Belcastro, left, owner of Adventure Cycles & Sports in Farmingdale, stands with George Werner, 51, of Mastic Beach, after Werner won the fifth annual chili cook-off held at the store. (Jan. 29, 2012) Credit: Alexi Knock

Eight mountain bikers gathered to meticulously judge the best of six chili dishes in the back of Adventure Cycles & Sports in downtown Farmingdale on Sunday morning.

“It’s very scientific and important to vote the right way,” said Pat Kelly, 42, of Huntington.

The bike store held its fifth annual “Coldest Day of the Year Ride & Chili Cook-off,” which included a 10-mile bike ride, plenty of chili and close friends.

“It’s slow at the store in the winter so five years ago we were looking for something to do to get people to see the store,” said Carl Belcastro, owner of Adventure Cycles & Sports. “We get to drink beer, ride and eat chili. What could be better?”

The group rode the paths of Bethpage State Park and the Massapequa Preserve, which ends at Jones Beach.

“It’s about loyalty to these guys and it’s really fun,” said Kelly, who added that his secret chili ingredient is Heineken. “I’m always up for anything that has to do with riding or chili.”

Kelly and the others are mountain bikers who ride almost every week on paths near Farmingdale.

“Biking is a community-based sport because no matter where you are it brings different types of people together,” said Kelly. “But you will never catch me in biker’s spandex.”

After the long ride, the riders gathered in the back of the store in Farmingdale to judge the various types of chili. Each judge contributes $10 and the winner receives the money as well as a paper crown.

Carl Flanagan, 42, of Huntington, was the reigning chili cook-off champion and wore his 3-year-old paper crown throughout the contest as people slowly put their ballots in a six-pack beer case.

“I have to prepare myself to dethrone,” said Flanagan.

Adventure Cycles & Sports holds rides every Sunday as well as events throughout the year. The store’s largest event is a wine tour in the summer.

“The events are always good company and something to look forward to,” said Michelle Venditti, 27, of Brooklyn, who cooked the only vegetarian chili.

After the votes were carefully counted, George Werner, 51, of Mastic Beach was declared the 2012 winner after only his first chili entry for the contest.

“I honestly didn’t even know there was money involved,” said Werner. “It’s all about that paper crown and the company.”

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