Pedaling beneath sunny skies and moderate winds on a cool fall day, cyclists broke records for both participation and fundraising at the 13th annual Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride, held on Sunday, October 6. A record 307 cyclists, supported by over 130 volunteers, raised $213,000 and counting for clean water.
This annual event supports the Coalition’s work to ensure clean water in all Bay communities, restore and protect Bay ecosystems, and get people of all ages outside and engaged with their Buzzards Bay. Supporters can still donate to the Watershed Ride by going to savebuzzardsbay.org/ride.
The sun rose orange and pink over a cool, breezy autumn morning at Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, where 93 riders departed at 8:00 am on the Watershed Ride’s 100-mile “century ride.” The route wound through Little Compton and Westport’s rich coastal farmland to the wave-washed coast along Horseneck Beach State Reservation, where another 73 riders began their 75-mile route at 9:00 a.m.
After enjoying views of South Dartmouth’s picturesque shoreline, the breezy coast and working waterfront around New Bedford Harbor, and the changing leaves along the bike trail through Fairhaven and Mattapoisett, riders stopped for lunch at East Over Farm on Leonards Pond in Rochester. Gathered beneath the festive yellow barn, riders took a few minutes to sprawl in the farm fields beneath the sunshine, enjoying lunch from the Oxcart Food Truck before hitting the road once more.
At noon, 104 additional riders joined the Ride from East Over Farm for its final 35 miles. After winding past Rochester and Wareham cranberry bogs brimming with red berries for harvest, cyclists passed over the Bourne Bridge and onto Cape Cod. Beneath pearly patches of clouds, riders took in stunning stretches of salt marshes on Falmouth’s Shining Sea Bikeway and the beaches along Vineyard Sound before biking into the bustling village of Woods Hole.
Energetic supporters cheered riders across the finish line at the Marine Biological Laboratory’s Swope Center in Woods Hole to celebrate their accomplishments at a lively party. Participants and their guests enjoyed food, drinks, complimentary massages, live music by the Morrissey Blvd Band, and an awards ceremony recognizing top fundraisers and multi-year participants.
“The route, the towns and cities we rode through were absolutely spectacular bicycling, and to showcase the gorgeous riding on the South Coast and the Buzzards Bay side of the Cape was a delight,” said Galen Mook of Allston, who was participating in his first Ride. As Executive Director of MassBike, an advocacy group for safe bicycling throughout the state, Mook added he was impressed with the collaboration at the event between many different groups and advocates. “It was nice to showcase some of the off-street infrastructure for safe biking, and to highlight how we need to work on connecting local pathway networks."
The Watershed Ride drew cyclists of all ages and abilities from over 100 communities in 14 states, coming from as far away as Michigan, Virginia, and Texas. The oldest riders were 80-year-old husband and wife Leonard and Patricia Johnson, of North Falmouth, who both completed the 100-mile ride. More than half of the riders participated as part of one of 29 teams, made up of groups of friends and family who train, fundraise, and ride the course together.
The top fundraisers were Drew Dimmick of Vineyard Haven, who raised $7,000; Chip Johns of Mattapoisett, who raised $6,061; and Leslie Knowles of Dartmouth, who raised $5,066. The top first-time fundraiser was Robert “John” Holden of Cataumet, who raised $3,108.
The top fundraising team this year was also the largest one: the Bourne Rail Trail Blazers, whose 59 members raised an impressive $42,741, earning them this distinction for the second consecutive year. The Blazers rode to raise support for the construction of a proposed bike path through Bourne connecting the Cape Cod Canal Bikeway and the Shining Sea Bikeway. This year, a group of donors pledged to match the Blazers’ Ride donations, meaning that every dollar raised for the Coalition also meant a dollar towards the Rail Trail’s construction.
"We were thrilled to be a part of the Ride again this year,” said Russ Salamone, Treasurer of the Bourne Rail Trail Blazers. “For me personally, having the opportunity to ride 100 miles alongside my wife, brother and sister-in-law, friends, fellow board members and the Coalition, all to benefit Buzzards Bay and create the Bourne Rail Trail, was amazing.”
Next year’s 14th annual Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride will take place on Sunday, October 4, 2020. Registration will open in spring 2020.
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 27th annual Buzzards Bay Swim will take place Saturday, June 27, 2020. For more information, email [email protected] or call (508) 999-6363.