Virginia is for lovers of cycling and hills this week.
The Anchor House Ride for Runaways begins in Lexington, Va. tomorrow, June 13, and makes stops in Harrisonburg and Winchester, Va. before leaving the state nicknamed the Old Dominion. The 183 cyclists and 31 support crew members participating in the 36th annual ride will then head to Hagerstown and Westminster, Md., and Lancaster and Lansdale, Pa., before pedaling back to the Garden State and the Quaker Bridge Mall next Saturday, July 19.
Day one Sunday is the longest day in the seven-day, 500 mile journey. The cyclists will pedal 78.7 miles and climb 4,084 feet as they travel from Lexington, Va. to Harrisonburg, Va. on a scenic rural route with rolling terrain.
Before they began their 7-hour bus trip to Virginia Saturday morning, the riders were treated to a send off at Arm & Hammer Park that included pom poms, posters and thank you speeches from teens who have been helped by Anchor House, the Trenton-based non-profit that provides shelter and other services to abused, neglected, runaway and homeless children and teens.
New rider Tom Julian of Hamilton was looking forward to the adventure as he boarded the bus.
“I’m doing this for my bride,” he said has he hugged his wife, Brenda Julian, and said goodbye to his two children.
Julian’s wife participated in the ride last year, and her experience inspired him to sign up this year. After she began training he started cycling too, and received a road bike as a Father’s Day present.
“The best piece of advice I gave him is to take breaks when he needs them, ” Brenda Julian said. “If you wait too long to take a break, it is harder for you to recover and keep going.”
Participants in the Ride for Runaways include college students, professionals, and retirees from diverse backgrounds. They share a love of cycling and a passion for the Anchor House cause.
“I tell people it’s part Tour de France, part traveling circus,” said Tom Pryor, president of the Anchor House board if directors. “Everyone on the ride shares a concern for the young people Anchor House serves.”
Anchor House Executive Director Kim McNear thanked the cyclists and their families for sacrificing a week together, and wished the cyclists a safe and enjoyable journey.
“On the Anchor House ride, all roads lead to people supporting kids in need,” she said.
The cyclists spent several months training for the ride, and collected donations from friends, family members, colleagues and area businesses. The ride raises more than a third of the money to operate Anchor House each year.
“We appreciate all you do, and we will all be thinking of you this week,” McNear said. “When the riding gets difficult, remember the kids. When it is fun, remember the kids. In everything you do this week, remember the kids.”
Reporter Krystal Knapp is a cyclist in the 36th 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.