Championing two causes at the Watershed Ride
Ken Cheitlin will be riding in his ninth Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride this year, once again leading the Bourne Rail Trail Blazers. The top overall fundraiser in 2021, Ken is excited to continue to grow his team and revel in the camaraderie while also raising as much money as possible for the Coalition and the Friends of the Bourne Rail Trail.
A new perspective. “When you’re riding on your bike you’re seeing things in a different way then cruising in a car or walking. I enjoy having that perspective. When you’re driving you don’t get the feel of the land the same way. I notice inclines I wouldn’t otherwise be aware of. When you aren’t biking on busy roads you can afford to look around more.”
Supporting two causes. “My brother-in-law (Russ Keeler) has been very involved in the Coalition for many years. He told me about the Watershed Ride back in 2014. My cousin Rob and I rode that year as the Patch Pedalers. We started out pretty small, but by 2016 we were the top fundraising team. That year I became involved with the Friends of the Bourne Rail Trail. We are trying to build a bicycle and pedestrian pathway that will connect Cape Cod pathway to the Shining Sea Bikeway. I had the idea to have a more formal role in the Watershed Ride and put together a team to help the work of the Coalition and get publicity to build the rail trail. We had 29 riders the first year and raised $20,000, more than double the second place team. We got all the publicity from being the biggest team raising the most money, but more importantly, our riders had fun doing it. In 2019 we had 63 riders and decided to introduce a donation match. A generous group of donors were willing to match dollar for dollar with the matching money going to the Friends of the Bourne Rail Trail. I’m appreciative of the Coalition being on board and supporting our match. We raised $47,000 that year for both the Coalition and the rail trail. Last year we had 44 riders, raised $46,000, and had a match again.”
Enjoying the celebration. “As with every year, last year we had a lot of fun. We do a night before pre-ride dinner for the Blazers. Everyone has a good time, we show up the next morning, and while we may do different length rides, we all enjoy the big party at the end getting to celebrate with the other riders.”
Strategic fundraising. “My fundraising advice to others is to be straightforward with people about the fact that this a cause you care about, just like you’d be supportive of causes they care about. I count myself among those that don’t particularly like asking people for money. Obviously some of the success of fundraising is built on personal relationships. When you ask friends and family to support a cause important to you, they step up. I reach out to them and tell them it’s a cause I feel really strongly about. People visit us on the Cape and see what a beautiful place it is. It resonates with them when you tell them there are things that threaten the bay and there’s a group working to counteract that and improve the situation. The cause sells itself.”
A reason to ride. “I don’t typically ride 35 miles, ever, except for the Watershed Ride. But with relatively little training you can do a 35 mile ride. You’ll be hurting at the end but you’ll feel good about it. It’s fun, and there’s no pressure to do it quickly. You’re around friendly people and the Coalition provides plenty of support. If you’re on the fence because of the distance, no need to worry about that. If you’re on the fence about the cause, there are many ways to get educated about that. We’ve lived here for many years now, and my wife grew up here. Even before I lived here I was coming every year for 45 years. We can tell the difference in the water. Clearly. No question about it. It’s a wonderful bay, I swim every day in the summer time. I can tell that the growing number of people on the bay and introduction of nitrogen has made a difference. The Coalition is leading the way in addressing that. To me that’s an incredibly compelling purpose to ride. That’s only one thing the Coalition does, but the nitrogen problem and the Coalition’s willingness to address it and be upfront about it is hugely important. It makes it worthwhile to raise money for the Coalition. As much as you may not like asking people for money, you just have to keep your eye on the bottom line and the really important cause.”