When cyclists are pedaling 60 to 80 miles a day for a week, rest stops along the way are welcome breaks for hydrating and refueling before heading up some more hills.
On the Anchor House Ride for Runaways, dedicated volunteers run three rest stops each day, spaced out about 20 miles apart. The volunteers haul ice, mix Gatorade, slice fruit, and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the cyclists for several hours. Then they clean up and restock items they need for the next day.
On Sunday, the first day of the 7-day ride, the 146 cyclists on the Ride for Runaways received a few special treats at the rest stops.
Ida Maust gave Anchor House permission to use her property in Maryland’s Amish Country as the first rest stop of the journey. But she did more than that. She also offered the cyclists hospitality when they arrived. Her daughter baked dozens of donuts and coffee cinnamon rolls for the cyclists, and two of her granddaughters also pitched in by serving the cyclists. Maust, 88, sat at the rest stop with her family and talked with the cyclists the entire morning.
Why did she want to help? It turns out the Anchor House cause — helping runaway, abused and neglected children and teens, is dear to Maust, who has nine children and 36 grandchildren. Many years ago, a neighborhood 14-year-old boy was abandoned by his parents. They simply gave him a small suitcase, put him outside, locked the house, and drove away, leaving the boy standing outside the house. Maust took the boy in and raised him for the next four years until he was an adult.
“Sort of a one-woman Anchor House,” said cyclist Glenn Cantor of Maust.
At the second rest stop of the day, St. Paul’s Church just across the border from Maryland in Salisbury, Pa., church members baked hundreds of cookies for the cyclists and packed them in sandwich bags. The church also donated $200 to Anchor House.
As the cyclists pedal along the route, they also meet locals and explain why they are riding. At a barbecue restaurant in McHenry, Md. a man opened up his wallet and gave a cyclist $20 for the cause.
The cyclists biked 65 hilly miles from McHenry, Md. to Somerset, Pa. on Sunday, climbing almost 5,000 feet. They enjoyed scenic views of lakes, mountains, and Amish farms along the way on the hilliest day of the 500-mile ride. For one long stretch late in the day, the road repeatedly went up and then seemed to reach a plateau, only to go up again once the cyclists turned corners. Fortunately for the cyclists, the temperatures never went above the 70s.
Support crew member Tom Imbrigiotta, who was working at the second rest stop of the day, said it turned out that the ride was just four miles from the highest point in Maryland.
“Well, I guess the Anchor House cyclists can’t climb every hill in Maryland,” he joked.
On Monday, the cyclists will pedal 77 miles from Somerset, Pa. to Altoona. The ride begins Monday less than 14 miles from the Sept. 11 Flight 93 crash site, chapel and memorial.
Krystal Knapp is an embedded reporter participating in the 39th annual Anchor House Ride for Runaways. To learn more about Anchor House, to make a donation, or to visit an individual cyclist’s donation page, visit the Ride for Runaways website.