There was no time to put on rain gear, and there wasn’t any point in doing so anyway.
Dark clouds appeared in the sky near Winchester, Va. just after 2 p.m. on Monday and within a few minutes, cyclists on the Anchor House Ride for Runaways were drenched. A few cyclists ducked into a church. Some found shelter at a country store. Others pedaled as fast as they could to reach the finish line for the day.
The second day of the 36th annual Anchor House Ride for Runaways started out hot and humid, and ended with a downpour. While many of the cyclists made it in before the rain, the back of the pack rode almost 10 miles in soaked jerseys, bike shorts, socks and shoes that made squishing sounds as they pedaled. The riders took it all in stride, determined to continue biking. They were greeted with cheers by the other cyclists when they reached the end.
“Actually the rain didn’t bother me that much, because it cooled me off,” said cyclist Mark Andrew of Lawrenceville.
Rider Gary Backinoff of Titusville agreed. He strategy was to just keep pedaling. He also sang in the rain to pass the time.
“It was nice to be riding with a group in that weather,” he said. “We evn had to change a flat tire in the rain.”
The cyclists biked 78.3 miles and climbed 4,346 feet Monday, the hilliest day of the 500-mile, seven-day ride. They climbed hills most of the day.
“Why does it keep going up?” asked rider Tom Imbrigiotta of Pennington at mile 59. “Make it stop please.”
The 183 cyclists on the Ride for Runaways, who bike to raise money for the shelter for abused and runaway children and teens, are kept safe, fed and hydrated with the help of the 31-member volunteer support crew.
Rovers sweep sections of the route in vehicles, looking for cyclists who might need help.
The support crew also runs three rest stops along the route each day, serving the cyclists fruit, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, other snacks, sports drinks, water, and ice. The cyclists burn off more than 4,000 calories riding on an average day.
At rest stop number two Monday, the cyclists consumed 180 pounds of ice and 36 gallons of water, support crew member Kathy Sonnenfeld Squires of Robbinsville said.
The Ride for Runaways depends on the kindness of residents and groups along the 500-mile route for rest stop locations. Rest stop number two was at a St. Luke Brethren Church in Woodstock, Va.
“Church volunteers showed up to welcome us,” support crew member Barbara Tenney of Ewing said. “They made coffee for us and even put some smiley face balloons out front to welcome the riders. They also gave us 19th century hymnals as gifts.”
Church members also sat down and chatted with the cyclists as they arrived at the rest stop.
“It’s a great cause, and we’re happy to lend a helping hand in our own little way.” one member said.
Tuesday the cyclists will pedal 69.3 miles from Winchester, Va. to Hagerstown, Md.
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.