When Ken Sharples began the Anchor House Ride for Runaways, George H.W. Bush was president, Nolan Ryan became the first pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball to get 5,000 strikeouts, and the Chicago hit “Look Away” was the top single.
The cyclists on the ride didn’t use cell phones, there was only one support crew member, and the cue sheets for each day’s ride were slipped under the cyclists’ doors the night before.
Every year since then, Sharples has biked the 500-mile Anchor House Ride for Runaways, logging more than 12,500 miles over the past quarter century and raising more than $40,000 to help abused and neglected children and runaways.
Sharples, 74, was one of two Anchor house participants honored at the Anchor House banquet Thursday for reaching the 25-year mark, a feat only two other cyclists have accomplished.
Organizers also announced that the 35th annual Ride for Runaways has raised more than $485.000 so far. Donations will continue to come in for the next several days.
“I didn’t plan on it happening. It just happened,” Sharples said of reaching the 25-year mark. “At first I said it would be five years and out. Then I said it would be 10 years and out. Now here I am.”
“Ken’s ability to ride when I joined the ride 21 years ago was legendary,” said cyclist John Murray. “My first day of my first ride, at 29, I thought I was a strong rider. I caught up to Ken and started to ride his wheel. He started to slowly increase his speed to the point that we were going really fast. I was able to stay with him for about 10 miles until I completely fell apart.
“I became one of the dozens of riders who thought because of a fairly significant age difference I could smoke this old guy,” he said. “I also realized I was not paying attention and was completely lost. I ended up crossing the U.S.-Canada border at the wrong spot and had to re-cross, which was not well accepted by the border guard. I got back on route and swore I would never ride with that crazy old guy again.”
Sharples, who is retired from ETS, was also the Anchor House route designer for many years.
Cyclist Mark Smith recalled how he was not sure which way to go on the 1992 ride, so he decided to follow Sharples because Sharples had designed the route. Sharples ended up getting them off course about six miles.
“When you design the route you go out and try different alternatives,” Sharples said. “I forgot which road I had chosen.”
Other anniversary award winners Thursday night were:
Frank Fanning, III
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.