Jamie Knapp couldn’t be with his fellow Anchor House cyclists on the Ride for Runaways this week because he is stationed in Afghanistan. So he decided to do the next best thing — to raise money for Anchor House and ride the 500 miles with four colleagues on stationary bikes.
Every day this week, the group is riding LifeCycle bikes in unison, each riding 15 miles a day for a total of 500 miles over the week.
“We are undertaking the 500 mile ride with Anchor House, distanced by over 8,000 miles and separated from the peace of the route by war in Afghanistan as a quintet of soldiers, civil servants, and diplomats, because I have passed on the inspiration of the ride to fellow enthusiasts who caught the vision I shared,” he said. “I came into the Anchor House Ride originally as a challenge, but after my first 500-mile ride with the other riders, I was hooked. The hook was not about the adrenalin rush or the camaraderie, it was about the purpose — for the kids.”
Just like the riders on the trek from Burlington, Vermont to Lawrence, New Jersey, the five members of the group have raised money for Anchor House, the Trenton-based shelter for abused kids and runaways.
“We’ve been seeking sponsors to donate for kids of our own troubled land, carving out time in the havoc of war to bless children we don’t know,” he said.
Knapp (no relation to this writer) was an active duty Marine for 21 years. He retired in 2007, and has been working for the military since then as a civil servant. When he found out he would be in Afghanistan this year, he was sad about missing the Anchor House ride, which he first participated in last year after veteran rider Les Leathem of West Windsor challenged him to take part.
“The ride last year began a short odyssey that was one of the most memorable and rewarding events of my life, seeing the broad wealth and beauty of the back roads of America from the narrow seat of my self-propelled Trek,” Knapp said. “I enjoyed the laughter and tales from the day or past rides, and made new friends along the way.”
After talking to Leathem about the ride this year, he decided he would figure out a way to pedal in solidarity with Anchor House.
“When I came here, armed with the desire to make this ride for the kids and be yoked together with the riders, I told the story of Anchor House and my zeal rubbed off on the four other riders,” he said.
The other participants in Afghanistan include Seth Middleton, Paul Bratcher, Rahima Kandahari and Curtis Slover.
“We are dedicated to complete the ride, side by side, for 500 collective miles and recognize that this is not just an odd distraction, but an opportunity to be part of another action bigger than ourselves for the sake of others,” Knapp said.
On their first day biking, the group logged 100 miles. Knapp is sending daily reports to supporters and some of the Anchor House riders. He passed along greetings to his riding buddies in Leathem’s riding group, called These Guys, and to a group of slower cyclists who joke and laugh a lot along the route called the Slow Spokes.
“I love these guys,” he said of the Slow Spokes. “They are very motivating.”
The 189 cyclists on the ride biked from Glens Falls, New York to Latham, New York Tuesday, logging 65.8 miles. They faced a 5-mile climb early in the day, and climbed 3,147 feet. Many of the cyclists headed out early to try to beat the heat.
Wednesday the cyclists will pedal 80 hilly miles from Latham to Kingston, New York, with a 4-mile climb at mile 24.
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.