“The Watershed Ride is special because it’s such a unique way to experience the diversity of the landscapes in our watershed, from streams to salt marshes to cranberry bogs,” said Mark Rasmussen, president of the Buzzards Bay Coalition and a cyclist in the Watershed Ride. “All of these communities are connected to Buzzards Bay, and being on a bike is one of the best ways to see that up close.”
Cloudy skies couldn’t dampen spirits at Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, where approximately 50 riders embarked upon the Watershed Ride’s first-ever 100-mile “century ride” starting at 7:15 a.m. The route wound through Little Compton and Westport’s picturesque coastal farmland to Horseneck Beach State Reservation, where another 50 riders began the 75-mile route at 8:00 a.m.
“The Buzzards Bay watershed is one of the most beautiful areas of the country, and the Ride snakes a course through some of the beauty that’s visible from the road,” said John Mendelsohn of Falmouth, one of the riders who completed the Watershed Ride’s first-ever 100-mile route from Rhode Island to Cape Cod.
After cycling through coastal South Dartmouth, New Bedford’s working waterfront, the leafy Fairhaven bike path, and Mattapoisett’s rural backroads, riders stopped for lunch at Eastover Farm on Leonards Pond in Rochester. There, 50 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 in Woods Hole village. At the finish line, riders and their guests were welcomed with warm food, drinks, prizes, complimentary massages, and live music by Americana duo Butch McCarthy and Bob Calderara.
Kathy Nelson of Centerville captained “Team Girl Power,” made up of nine members from Cape Cod who rode the 35-mile route from Rochester to Woods Hole. “Last year was the first time we participated in the Watershed Ride, and it was the first organized ride for most of our members,” she said. “We had such a great time last year, we decided to do it again this year. In fact, we talked about it so much to our friends, we recruited even more members to join our team this year!”
The Watershed Ride drew cyclists from over 70 communities in nine states and Washington, D.C. Three riders – Tom Gidwitz of Dartmouth, Leslie Knowles of Dartmouth, and Ken Lipman of Fairhaven – have participated in all 10 Watershed Rides since the event began in 2007.
“It’s fun, and it’s a great cause. There’s been more and more people riding [each year], which has added to the camaraderie,” said Gidwitz about why he’s returned to the Watershed Ride for 10 years running. “Plus, when you get to the end, there’s plenty of good food and beer!”
The top fundraisers were Jeff Gonsalves of Dartmouth, who raised $4,595; Andy van Dam of Barrington, who raised $3,863; and Leslie Knowles of Dartmouth, who raised $3,115. The top fundraising team was “The Patch Pedalers,” a six-member team from Rochester, Wareham and Bourne who raised $6,729. In total, 25 riders raised more than $1,000 each. (View results and photos from the 2016 Watershed Ride.)
Supporters can still donate to the Watershed Ride through Sunday, Oct. 16.
The Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride is one of two signature outdoor 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 24th annual Buzzards Bay Swim will take place Saturday, June 24, 2017.