Pedaling beneath sunny skies and light winds on a cool fall day, the cyclists recorded impressive fundraising and participation totals at the 14th annual Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride. The 291 registered participants, supported by 58 volunteers, raised $200,000 and counting for clean water. (You can show support for the riders by making gifts in their honor through Saturday, Oct. 31.)
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.
[More photos from the Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride can be viewed on the Coalition Flickr site. —Ed.]
“Today is one of the most memorable Watershed Rides that we’ve hosted in the event’s 14 years. It may have been different from our traditional ride, given the changes we made for social distancing to keep everyone safe. But it was perfect—enthusiastic participation, a stunning route, and beautiful weather,” said Coalition President Mark Rasmussen. “This has been a challenging year for everyone, and as a community, I think we needed the kind of celebration of the Bay that we had today.”
This year’s ride differed from past events in that the Coalition offered a 62- and a 30-mile route, both of which ended at Fort Taber Park in New Bedford, rather than Woods Hole. In addition, a number of measures were adopted to facilitate social distancing, such as a rolling start and expanded water stop areas.
The sun rose orange and pink on a cool autumn morning at Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, where 176 riders departed on the Watershed Ride’s 62-mile “metric 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 89 riders began their 30-mile route.
Along the way from Sakonnet Point to Fort Taber Park, riders pedaled past more than 2,500 acres of permanently protected woodlands, wetlands, salt marsh and beach habitat managed by the Coalition, local land trusts and state and local municipalities. Among the reserves on the route is the Lyons Brook Reserve in Westport, a 55-acre property that the Coalition will formally open to the public while preserving its vital cold-water stream habitat and its connection to protecting water quality in the East Branch of the Westport River.
The Watershed Ride drew cyclists of all ages and abilities from 102 communities in 11 states, some of whom rode the event as a virtual participant from as far away as Oregon. The oldest riders were Leonard and Patty Johnson of North Falmouth, both of whom are in their 80s. More than half of the riders participated as a member of one of 37 teams, 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 $10,462; Jeffrey Gonsalves of South Dartmouth who raised $4,310 and Ken Cheitlin of Pocaset, who raised $3,935.
“The Watershed Ride is a great celebration of Buzzards Bay and a great way to stay fit,” Johns said while taking a well-deserved break for lunch at Fort Taber Park. “The ride is a great way to support the Coalition and the route offers amazing vistas of the Bay.”
The top fundraising team this year was NaughtyxNature, which raised $22,500. With 19 members, the team was one of the largest participating in the Ride this year, despite the fact that this was the group’s first year of participation. Nearly all the riders were first-time participants in the Ride, too.
“This was an amazing day and event,” said Daniel Cooney, the captain of the NaughtyxNature team and a first-time Watershed Rider. “Many of us on the Naughty by Nature team grew up on the bay and it means everything to us. The Coalition is an incredible organization that gets stuff done, and we want to do our part to help protect and preserve the Bay.”
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. (This year’s swim was cancelled due to the pandemic.)