Weather conditions were clear blue and sparkling at Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, where 85 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 62 riders began the 75-mile route at 9:00 a.m.
“The Ride is memorable because the route is very beautiful – we rode along sections of southeastern Massachusetts that I had never seen before,” said 100-mile rider Tanya Roy of Wellesley. “The Ride is a great way for me to contribute to the Coalition and its important mission in preserving the Buzzards Bay watershed.”
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, 95 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.
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 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, who also completed the 75-mile route on Sunday. “Being on a bike is one of the best ways to experience how all of these communities are connected to Buzzards Bay.”
The Watershed Ride drew cyclists of all ages and abilities from over 90 communities in 11 states, coming from as far away as Colorado and Texas. The oldest riders were 80-year-old Arthur Klipfel of Cambridge and 79-year-old Patricia Johnson of North Falmouth, and the youngest rider was 13-year-old Gabe Greenwald of Westwood. More than half of riders participated as part of one of 25 teams, which are made up of groups of friends and family who train, fundraise and ride the course together.
The top fundraisers were Chip Johns of Mattapoisett, who raised $5,600; Ken Cheitlin of Pocasset, who raised $5,100; and Jeff Gonsalves of Dartmouth, who raised $3,850. The top first-time fundraiser was John Woodley of Pocasset, who raised $1,950. The top fundraising team was the Bourne Rail Trail Blazers, whose 28 members raised an impressive $21,349.
“It’s a win-win scenario,” said Cheitlin of his fifth Watershed Ride, which he completed as part of the Bourne Rail Trail Blazers team to raise awareness of and support for a proposed bike path through Bourne. “By participating, we’re raising funds for the important work of the Coalition while spreading the word about the trail to a large number of people who certainly appreciate the use and enjoyment of the Buzzards Bay watershed.”
The 13th annual Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride will take place on Sunday, October 6, 2019. Registration will open in spring 2019.
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 26th annual Buzzards Bay Swim will take place Saturday, June 22, 2019.