Cardel Locke was 24 when he completed his first Anchor House Ride for Runaways. He always knew he wanted to come back on the ride again, and he finally fulfilled his wish this year — 25 years later.
The West Windsor resident made the commitment to bike in the Ride for Runaways again after a friend from the Princeton Freewheelers cycling club, George Foradori, died last year at the age of 82.
“We all rode together for many years,” Locke said. “George was an active person in the Princeton area cycling community and he would pick up and do anything for a great cause that involved cycling.”
The Ride for Runaways raises money for Anchor House, the only nonprofit in Mercer County that provides shelter to abused, neglected and runaway kids and teens. The ride funds more than a third of the cost to keep the doors at Anchor House open each year and support the nonprofit’s other programs.
On Tuesday, day three of the 500-mile ride, the 173 cyclists participating int he 37th annual ride biked in memory of former Anchor House participants, friends, and loved ones. Locke rode in memory of his friend.
The cyclists pedaled 70 miles from Corning New york to Wellsboro, Pa., climbing about 3,300 feet. The journey included a seven-mile climb, a nine-mile climb, a 1.7-mile climb, and a 5.5 mile climb. The weather forecast called for rain and thunderstorms, but a light rain fell at 5 a.m. and stopped before most of the cyclists were on the road. About an hour after the last cyclists came in, the thunder showers began.
“It was a tough day,” Locke said. “There were a lot of hills to do, but I was prepared.”
Locke’s first Anchor House ride was in 1990, a year after he graduated from Trenton State College. He raced professionally after college. Veteran Anchor House rider Ken Sharples, now completing his 26th Anchor House ride at age 76, recruited him back then. The ride started in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the cyclists biked about 550 miles, pedaling through Washington DC and taking the Cape May Ferry from Delaware to New Jersey.
“It was a great experience. I always said I’d do it again,” Locke said. He then got married, had kids, and stopped cycling for many years, but started biking again in 2009. He and his family lived in Atlanta for several years, but missed the Garden State and moved back in 2011.
At age 49, the ride poses different challenges than at age 24, said Locke, who is a financial planner at Merrill Lynch in Hopewell.
“In my younger days I was full of energy,” he said. “For this ride I had to plan more to make sure I get through the ride. Normally I put in 150 to 200 miles a week on the bike. I incorporated longer rides and more hills into my training this season, and did more centuries (100-mile rides).”
The Anchor House ride has also changed over the last quarter century. Back when Locke did the ride in 1990, there were about 80 or 90 cyclists, half the size of the group now, and the support crew consisted of one or two volunteers.
“Kudos to Kathy Drulis of Anchor House and her team for growing Anchor House, the volunteer base, and the resources for the kids,” Locke said. “The ride is a great way to support Trenton and give back to the community.”
Day four of the Ride for Runaways Wednesday will be a “recovery day” by Anchor House ride standards. The route is 75.7 miles, but the trip is down hill for 40 miles. The route includes three miles of climbing out of Wellsboro, and two long climbs on the way in to Williamsport.