With cheers, hugs and wishes for a safe and rain-free journey, the Anchor House cyclists were sent off in style this morning at the baseball park in Trenton.
The 35th annual Anchor House Ride for Runaways will start tomorrow from Burlington, Vermont, a favorite starting point for many Anchor House cyclists. The cyclists will pedal 506 miles over seven days, making stops in Rutland, Vermont; Glens Falls, Latham, and Kingston, New York; and Matamoras and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania before reaching the Quaker Bridge Mall for the welcome home celebration at 3 p.m. on July 20.
More than 35 support crew members and 189 cyclists are participating in the charity event that raises money for Anchor House, the Trenton-based non-profit that serves homeless, abused, and runaway kids. Each participant raises money by collecting donations from friends and colleagues. The 2012 ride raised more than $473,000.
Route designer Brian McLaughlin has described this Anchor House ride route as one of the most challenging in several years. The cyclists will climb lots of hills, but will be rewarded with scenic views and mostly rural roads. McLaughin noted that the cyclists will see lots of cows along the way.
Anchor House riders come from a wide range of backgrounds and cycling abilities. The average daily mileage on the ride is 75 miles. The cyclists have been training for the ride since the spring, many of them logging more than 1,000 training miles in the hills of Hunterdon County.
The cyclists trained in difficult conditions the last few months that included soaring temperatures and lots of rain. This June was the wettest June in recorded history for the Garden State, according the the state climatologist.
Veteran rider Bethanne Mowery and training and ride partner dubbed the ride “the year of the turtle and missing bridges.”
Wet conditions appeared to attract more turtles to the roads. The pair saved seven turtles during training rides by moving them out of harms way. Some of the turtles were ungrateful and snapped at their would-be rescuers. Cyclists have also had to deal with numerous road closures because of bridge repairs and flooded roads.
“But as with every training ride, we always have lots of laughs and we take time to reflect on why we are riding in the often extreme weather conditions,” Mowery said. “It’s for the kids!”
New participant David Morhaim trained for the ride before work, getting up early to ride two or three hours whenever possible. When he couldn’t ride, he would go to spinning class at the gym. He has also trained with several veteran riders on weekends.
“I’ve basically been doing only hills for the past four months to prepare,” he said. “Everyone has been so helpful and encouraging. I can’t wait to ride with the rest of this incredible group of people.”
The cyclists will pedal 78.7 hilly miles today from Burlington to Rutland, Vt.
Reporter Krystal Knapp is a cyclist in the 35th annual Anchor House Ride for Runaways. For more information about Anchor House or to make a donation, visit www.anchorhouseride.org , where you can also make online donations in a cyclist’s name. Donations can also be sent to the Anchor House Foundation, P.O. Box 2357, Trenton, NJ 08607-2357.