Laurie Papell didn’t quite believe her friend Laura Lyons when she announced that she was going to buy a bike and join Papell on the Anchor House Ride for Runaways.
But much to Papell’s surprise, Lyons, who lives in North Carolina, bought one this spring and signed up for the 500-mile trek that raises money for Anchor House, the Trenton-based shelter for runaway and abused children.
“I trained a lot. The only thing I didn’t like was riding alone and being chased by dogs,” Lyons said. “Then I found a group to ride with.”
Papell, who lives in Lawrence, was Lyons’ babysitter as a child, and the two remained friends despite living in different states. Sunday morning, they will be comrades on two wheels as they depart from Staunton, Va., the home of Woodrow Wilson, and make the 74-mile journey to Woodstock, Va.
Asked if she was a little nervous as a new rider, Lyons said a simple “I’m going to say yes” as the bus she was on that was headed for the start of the ride, chugged up the Virginia hills.
The pair will ride with new rider Kilani DiGiacomo of Lawrence, another Papell recruit.
“I was inspired by Laurie’s involvement with Anchor House the last several years,” DiGiacomo said.
The Ride for Runaways raises about $500,000 annually for Anchor House. Cyclists collect pledges for the ride from family, friends and colleagues. This year, 167 cyclists and more than 30 support crew members are participating in the ride.
Early Saturday morning the group left Trenton after a send off celebration at Waterfront Park.
Anchor House Executive Director Kim McNear thanked the cyclists and their families for sacrificing their time for the kids at Anchor House.
“When it gets tough out there, when it is hot and hilly, just remember, your efforts are not in vain,” McNear said. “Remember that you are riding fro the kids. As you bike through each town on your journey, you are raising awareness about runaway and abused children and efforts to help them.”
Including support crew members, participants in this year’s fundraiser range in age from 18 to 88, and they come from 10 states.
Martin Weinapple of Princeton is the oldest cyclist at 77.
“If I didn’t bike every day, my brain cells would deteriorate,” Weinapple joked. “I try to bike 20 to 25 miles every day.”
The temperatures are supposed to reach the high 90s Sunday, and the heat index will make it feel like it is more than 100 degrees.
Charles LaMonica of Lawrenceville enjoys south to north routes more than north to south routes even though the temperatures are often higher.
“The south is prettier and has bigger hills,” LaMonica said. “I just get a start earlier in the morning to beat the heat.”
For more information about Anchor House or to make a donation visit www.anchorhouseride.org or call (609) 278-9495.