Marion’s ‘Sail Bags’ cruise around Buzzards Bay for exercise, team spirit, and clean water
When Will Saltonstall first decided to participate in the Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride back in 2008, he wasn’t exactly thinking about the waters that surround his hometown of Marion.
“I was looking for a personal athletic goal to train for,” Will says, describing himself as “a lazy person when it comes to exercise.”
At the time, the Watershed Ride was simply an opportunity to stay in shape. Fast forward nearly a decade to today, and the Ride has become something much more for Will. For the second year in a row, Will and several of his friends are cycling in the Ride as members of the team “Sail Bags,” a group of locals with a shared interest in sailing.
Teammate Wiley Wakeman, also of Marion, explains that their name “represents all the different types of sails on a boat. We are a mix of age, experience, gender, and ability. I see myself as a rather weathered sail bag, a bit tattered and frayed along the edges, with a few repairs. We also have some sail bags that are in very good shape.”
Both Wiley and Will have found that cycling in the Watershed Ride as part of a large group pushes them to achieve their exercise goals and come back year after year. This year, many of the Sail Bags are aiming to complete the full 100-mile course, while others are focused on a 75-mile goal.
To prepare for their Ride, the Sail Bags try to ride as a group once or twice a week. Wiley also finds time to train alongside his wife Michele, who’s also on the team. “We try to fit in 3-4 rides of about 15-20 miles during the week. On weekends, we will attempt longer rides with a few more teammates,” Wiley says. “Nobody runs a full marathon in training for a marathon. Whatever your goal for the Ride might be – 35, 75, or 100 miles – if your training gets you up to half that distance, you can finish!”
When they look back at the past several years, Will and Wiley both realize that what originally started as exercise goal has transformed into a larger team effort for clean water in Buzzards Bay. “At a simple level, the Ride has helped me get off my lazy tail and give me a personal training goal for the summer/fall,” Will says. “On a different level, it gives me a more engaging way to support an organization that does great work.”
Wiley feels similarly. “Racing and sailing on Buzzards Bay has been a special part of my life, and this is a way I feel that I can give back. Participating in the Ride has made me much more aware of the need to keep Buzzards Bay clean and beautiful,” he says. “Biking has become a great way get exercise and see new places. It’s amazing how much more you notice and appreciate from your bike than when riding in a car.”
The Sail Bags actively work to recruit additional team members each year, which transforms their ride into a social event where they chat, enjoy the views, and take turns setting the pace. This year, the team has over a dozen members. “The bigger the team, the more fun we have!” Will says.
Want to join Will, Wiley, and 200 others to bike for clean water in Buzzards Bay on October 1? Sign up now or join the “Sail Bags” team!