Friday, November 20, 2015

First Annual Princeton-to-Trenton 'Ride To Achieve'

Last Saturday (November 14, 2015), the first 'Ride To Achieve' took place, in support of the Center for Child and Family Achievement in Trenton. CCFA works with local young people, to support them and give them extra educational opportunities. The organized ride raised money and awareness for the organization.

The riders gathered at 9.00 a.m. at Turning Basin Park, just off Alexander Road in Princeton. Here are the organizers and riders, along with Jerry Foster of Greater Mercer TMA (yellow vest) and 16th District New Jersey Assembly Representative, Jack Ciatterelli. Probably about 20-30 riders embarked on the 21 mile round trip from Princeton to the CCFA, on Calhoun Street in Trenton.

Riders were able to follow the D&R canal towpath, one of the best cycling facilities in the region. The path runs alongside the D&R canal all the way from Princeton to Trenton, so participants didn't have to battle local traffic. It's a quiet, flat ride through protected green space almost all the way. I'm happy to report that the path, which was previously rutted and washed out by stormwater in Lawrence Township, has been fixed up and is in great shape for riding. Here is a scene from the towpath, with the Trenton skyline in the distance.

The D&R towpath runs through what feels like a very rural environment, but as you approach Trenton, the scenery changes, to views of crumbling former industrial sites - and even a few that are still active! The canal path runs right through Trenton and then continues next to the Delaware River on the other side, so even when we got into downtown Trenton, we were still able to continue on a high-quality, seperated bike/walk facility

The weather was a little cold, but dry and pleasant enough for the ride. It was well worth it when we got to CCFA in Trenton, and met the kids who learn at the center! Their motto is 'Read to Achieve', and the Center is filled with books and learning materials. Unfortunately, I didn't get the names of all the people who are involved, although they are a really great group. Several of the participants seemed to be students / trainees from the Princeton Seminary. One of them told me that he had got involved with CCFA out of a sense of duty to respond to ongoing issues in urban America, which were brought to light recently by events such as those in Ferguson MO.

As part of the celebrations around 'Ride to Achieve', all the kids at the Center got a bicycle donated by the Trenton Boys and Girls Club Bike Exchange, which trains local people to repair un-needed bicycles and return them to the community. If you have an old bike that you don't need any more, try to drop it off with them. Some of the bikes are pictured here in the schoolyard, along with some 'long bikes' that were used by family riders on the way to and from Trenton.

All in all, it was a really fun and inspiring trip! Look out for the 'Ride to Achieve' next year, because it's likely to become an annual event. The D&R canal towpath is there 365 days a year, and if you haven't ridden it recently, it's well worth checking out. If the round trip is too much, it's also possible to put your bike on the train in Trenton and come back that way!

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