The cyclists guzzled water, loaded up on ice, and found shade where they could today as temperatures soared into the high 90s, the heat index reached 108, and a hot breeze blew in their faces.
The 189 Anchor House cyclists participating in the 35th annual Ride for Runaways biked 82.4 hilly miles from Matamoras, Pa. to Bethlehem, Pa. Friday. They will bike 56 miles from Bethlehem to Pennington Saturday before the final 10-mile ride to the Quaker Bridge Mall. The homecoming celebration begins in the center court of the mall at 3 p.m. sharp.
Several cyclists suffered from heat exhaustion after almost a week of biking in temperatures in the 90s that keep getting hotter the closer the cyclists get to home. Many said it was a feat just to finish the day that included 5,000 feet of climbing.
“The heat was unbelievable,” said cyclist Laurie Papell of Lawrence.”I stopped in the shade to drink Gatorade and it was already hot, even after putting ice in it at the rest stops.”
Veteran rider Stu Shanfiled of Lawrence and new rider Adrian Glass said the had an attitude that they weren’t going to give up.
“It was all about psychological stamina today,” Shanfield said.
“That and only looking four feet in front of you,” Glass said. “Don’t look up at the hills.”
Several cyclists spotted a black bear early in the day. “They picked up speed when they saw him,” rider Sue Glass said.
Kilani DiGiacomo of Lawrence stopped at a Burger King 3.5 miles from the end to cool off and then she began chatting with the manager about the Ride for Runaways. The manager brought her water and ice, and then gave her a $20 donation for Anchor House. Two children gave her 85 cents, and their mom gave her $8. The woman looked like she didn’t have much money. DiGiacomo tried to give it back but she refused, saying if she didn’t give it to her for Anchor House her boyfriend was just going to spend it on drugs anyway. Two other restaurant patrons also made a donation and she left the Burger King with $46.85 in donations.
The donations were a few more acts of kindness on the road this week that made the heat a little easier to tolerate.
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.