Cyclists Ride to Protect Buzzards Bay

On Sunday, October 14, 147 riders hopped on their bikes and set out on a course throughout Southeastern Massachusetts in order to raise money for a worthy cause. The Buzzards Bay Coalition hosted their Sixth Annual Watershed Ride in order to raise awareness on the importance of the bay and the watershed.

“There are two goals to this ride,” said the Coalition’s Vice President of Education and Public Engagement Rob Hancock. “One is to get people to enjoy the watershed and the other goal is to try and raise money to restore clean water, protect watershed land and engage the community.”

2012 marked the largest turnout of riders for the event, raising a projected $68,000 for the non-profit organization; the most money the ride has ever generated.

“We really believe Buzzards Bay is central to this region and is central to our economy,” said Hancock. “A healthy Buzzards Bay is critically important to all communities around here. What we do in our communities will have a huge impact on the health of the bay.”

There were two course options for the ride, one 75-mile and one 35-mile course. The 75-mile course began in Westport and ventured all the way down towards Woods Hole, passing through Dartmouth, New Bedford, Marion, Mattapoisett, Rochester, Wareham, Onset and Bourne before ending in Falmouth. Riders who selected the 35-mile course began their journey in Rochester and finished the latter half of the 75-mile course.

“It’s really nice to give people an option with both of those rides. This is the third year we have done that,” said Hancock. “We have 40 riders doing the 35-mile ride, and that’s about a third of our riders, so that’s really good.”

The 147 riders range in age from 15-75 and come from towns in the watershed region, as well as other towns and nearby states. The riders are comprised of both Buzzards Bay supporters and riding enthusiasts.

“This is really one of the best places you can bike in the country,” said Hancock. “There are nice roads, not a lot of traffic and it’s very picturesque. The bay is so diverse in communities, rich in character, there’s a lot of history and we want people to explore it.”

But it’s not just the 147 riders that make the event successful each year. Hancock also attributes the success to the 50 volunteers and hundreds of people who donate money to the cause.

One of those riders raising money for the Coalition is Rochester’s Wendy Keeler. This was her fifth time participating in the ride with her husband Russell.

“Every time we do it, we think of how lucky we are to live here,” said Keeler. “We have two kids and I think it’s important for them to know not only do we talk about the environment, but that it’s really important that if you care about something enough, you put yourself out there.”

Over the past 25 years, the Buzzards Bay Coalition has helped protect over 6,000 acres in the watershed as well as reduce water pollution in the bay. The past 25 years have given the organization an encouraging outlook on the future.

“Over our 25 years, looking at what we’ve done really gives you a sense of where we’re going,” said Hancock. “We are going to continue doing what we’re doing, get a strong scientific understanding of the bay, and continue to dig further.”

By Katy Fitzpatrick

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