Ed Conjura has dressed up as a clown, the Hulk, Bob Marley, a parrot and a hula girl — all in one week.
No, he is not a performer. He is a math professor. He has changed costumes each day to entertain the 173 cyclists participating in the 37th annual Anchor House Ride for Runaways.
In addition to his costume changes, Conjura has kept busy each day setting up a rest stop, cutting up fruit, and making sandwiches for the bikers. He is one of 36 support crew members participating in the annual ride. The support crew includes: three teams that manage rest stops along the route, drivers who cruise the route all day making sure the cyclists are safe, a team that transports the participants’ luggage and other supplies from one town to another, and a mechanic.
The ride raises money for Anchor House, the only shelter for runaway, abused and neglected kids and teens in Mercer County. Riders and support crew members collect donations from family members, friends, co-workers, local businesses and congregations.
Conjura biked the Ride for Runaways in 2003 with his daughter, Emily, and he has participated in several other major rides.
Emily went to kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and high school with Stephanie Garnich, who owns Knapp’s Cyclery with her husband, Pete Garnich, the mechanic for the ride.
“Steph got married and had her children, Emily got married and had her children, and lives in Colorado,” Conjura said. “They still communicate a lot, and they decided to get back together. Then they decided to do the ride together. ”
Emily mentioned the idea to her dad, to originally thought he would ride as well.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to train, so I decided to do support,” he said.
Even though he missed biking, the Titusville resident, who is a math professor at The college of New Jersey, has been enjoying the week on the support crew.
“I got into it,” he said, adding that his coconut bra and grass skirt Friday were the biggest hits of the week. “I danced a lot in that skirt for the cyclists,” he said.
Bicycling Magazine has ranked the Anchor House ride as one of top charity rides in the country. Veteran rider Phil Cooper, who has biked across the country and participated in several other long-distance cycling events, said the support on the Anchor House ride is one of the most organized and well run bicycling events he has ever experienced.
“It’s off the charts, from the rest stops to the rovers to the mechanic,” he said. “It’s a great organization.”
Cooper and the rest of the Anchor House cyclists pedaled 76 hilly miles from Hazleton, Pa. to Bethlehem Pa. on Friday. On Saturday, the cyclists will bike 53.9 miles from Bethlehem to Hopewell and celebrate the end of the ride with a picnic at the home of Dorothy Dutko before biking the last 10-mile leg of the 500-mile journey from Hopewell to the Quaker Bridge Mall. The 3 p.m. closing ceremony at the center court of the mall is open to the public.
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.