WOODS HOLE, Mass. – Two hundred twenty-six cyclists pedaled across Southeastern New England on Sunday to show their support for clean water during the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s largest-ever Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride, a scenic bicycling tour stretching from Little Compton, R.I. to Woods Hole, Mass.
The 11th annual event has so far raised $143,600 to support the nonprofit Coalition’s education, conservation, research and advocacy work. Supporters can still donate to the Watershed Ride through Sunday, Oct. 15 at www.savebuzzardsbay.org/ride.
“I can’t imagine a more enjoyable way to have spent the day than cruising around our precious and beautiful Buzzards Bay!” said first-time rider Marilyn Halter of Fairhaven, who participated in the Watershed Ride as part of team “Straws Suck.” The 14 team members raised $15,625 for the Watershed Ride while also raising awareness of the harmful effects of single-use plastics to waterways like Buzzards Bay.
Weather conditions were chilly but clear at Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, where 65 riders embarked upon the Watershed Ride’s 100-mile “century ride” starting at 8:00 a.m. The route wound through Little Compton and Westport’s picturesque coastal farmland to Horseneck Beach State Reservation, where another 53 riders began the 75-mile route at 9:00 a.m.
After cycling through coastal South Dartmouth, New Bedford’s working waterfront, the leafy Fairhaven bike path and Mattapoisett’s forested backroads, riders stopped for lunch at Eastover Farm on Leonards Pond in Rochester. There, 108 additional riders joined the Watershed Ride at noon for its final 35 miles through Wareham’s cranberry bogs, across the Bourne Bridge and down Falmouth’s Shining Sea Bikeway to end at the Marine Biological Laboratory Swope Center.
“The Watershed Ride is a unique opportunity to see all of our region’s diverse landscapes, from streams and salt marshes to cities and cranberry bogs,” said Coalition President Mark Rasmussen. “Being on a bike is one of the best ways to experience how all of these communities are connected to Buzzards Bay.”
A cheering crowd welcomed riders across the sunny finish line in Woods Hole, where they and their guests then enjoyed a finish line party complete with food, drinks, complimentary massages, live music and an awards ceremony recognizing the top fundraisers, largest teams and best team outfits.
The Watershed Ride drew cyclists of all ages and abilities from over 90 communities in 13 states, coming from as far away as Colorado. The oldest rider was 79-year-old Arthur Klipfel of Cambridge, and the youngest rider was 15-year-old James Mongeon of Westport.
The top fundraisers were David “Chip” Johns of Mattapoisett, who raised $7,118; Jeff Gonsalves of Dartmouth, who raised $3,800; and Ken Cheitlin of Pocasset, who raised $3,379. The top first-time fundraiser was Peter Dean of Marion, who raised $3,375.
More than half of riders participated as part of one of 28 teams, which are made up of groups of friends and family who train, fundraise and ride the course together. The top fundraising team was the “Sail Bags” of Marion and Mattapoisett, whose 19 members raised an impressive $21,609 and also won the award for team with the most riders.
The award for best team outfit went to Brendan Annett of Cotuit and Korrin Petersen of Middleborough, who rode a tandem bike 35 miles from Rochester to Woods Hole while dressed in candy striper and 1920s vaudeville performer costumes.
Another notable team was the “Falmouth Academy Pedalers,” whose 12 members were all Falmouth Academy students, staff and parents. Together, they raised $5,132 for their 35-mile ride. Every dollar they raised is being matched by team captain Emma Keeler’s parents with a donation to Falmouth Academy.
The Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride is one of two signature outdoor fundraising events hosted by the Coalition. The other is the Buzzards Bay Swim, a 1.2-mile open-water swim across outer New Bedford Harbor. The 25th annual Buzzards Bay Swim will take place Saturday, June 30, 2018. More information is available at www.savebuzzardsbay.org/swim.