Anyone who bikes in this area knows flat roads are few and far between. Except for a couple roads along the Delaware River, there are a lot of ups and downs.
Such an observation brings a smile to the face of Joe Boyce. For the Levittown native, the more climbs the merrier.
That was evident a week ago when Boyce completed a 500-mile ride for Anchor House (actually 541), an organization which provides shelter for at-risk youth.
Normally, the ride traverses a number of states including New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
But because of the pandemic, the usual pack of about 150 cyclists had to make do on their own.
Actually, as it turns out, Boyce wasn’t on his own. A number of fellow Bucks County Roadrunners Club members were nice enough to accompany him on various segments of his journey, including a rather ambitious 99-miler on Monday.
“It was a different and memorable experience cycling for Anchor House this year,’’ Boyce said. “Some days I biked from my house. Other days I drove to normal starting points where I train. Each day, it was a pleasure to come home and relax. Friends rode with me six out of eight days. The other days they provided support.’’
Since the ride’s inception, cyclists have raised more than $5 million for the cause.
Having friends along for much of the distance helped, according to Boyce.
“I’ve always said that it takes the Bucks County Roadrunners to help me train for Anchor House,’’ he said. “This year they also pushed and pulled me to the end of the ride.
“This was the first time I biked eight days in a row, rather than the traditional seven. And I had never biked 99 miles in one day during Anchor House. Some asked why I didn’t add another mile to make it a century ride. I said that I had done century rides before, but never 99. It was more meaningful and memorable.’’
All that said, a ride taken on local roads isn’t quite the same as pedaling into new territory.
“One thing I missed not traveling with the Anchor House team was the camaraderie,’’ Boyce said. “The kinship of a common cause, not knowing what beautiful sight was around the next corner, such as a sun-dappled valley, or the next challenge of a pain-numbing hill.
“But it was easy to say motivated with so many people supporting me and with the importance of helping at-risk kids find a home. Instead of doing 500 miles, I kicked it up to 541. It was a year of many firsts.’’
Boyce was pleased with the outcome, given the trying circumstances.
“COVID-19 couldn’t stop Anchor House,’’ Boyce said. “We adapted. The Ride for Runaways motto was: Every mile counts. Every dollar counts. Every kid counts. I am grateful for family and friends who donated so generously to help feed, clothe, and shelter homeless and abused children.’’
The list of Boyce’s bike pals included Tom Fuoco, John O’Brien, Jay Ricco and Bill Schaffling.
All these riders do a weekly training session out of Yardley on Saturday mornings.
They were more than happy to help the cause.
“Joe performed like a well-rested athlete when in reality he rode over 500 miles in the past eight days,’’ Fuoco said. “Training like a seasoned marathoner, he prepared for the ride all through the spring, all the while he continued to exercise most of his running engagements. He’s a wonderful asset to our community.’’
O’Brien has seen up close and personal the type of fit cyclist Boyce is.
I think Joe’s annual Anchor House ride is a pretty amazing accomplishment,’’ O’Brien said. “Getting on the bike day after day and completing rides of up to 100 miles regardless of the conditions can be pretty challenging. Anchor House is a great cause. The ‘teen’ years can be difficult for youth as well as their families. Having this group there to support them when it becomes more challenging can help keep them from being forgotten.’’
On group rides, Ricco often shares the peleton lead with Boyce.
“The highlights of Joe’s week to me was his 11-hour, 99-mile ride with about 15 stops visiting friends all over Bucks County on Monday,’’ Ricco said. “And he had to deal with at least two flat tires during the week. Of course, his sacrifice was for a good cause, not for personal acclaim. He’s not on Strava (a GPS site) looking for ‘kudos’ like many of us.’’
And Schaffling and Boyce go way back as race officials/organizers at BCRR.
“I have known Joe well before Anchor and I don’t think that there is any cause that has been more important to him,’’ Schaffling said. “Of course biking is a passion to him as well as running but I think Anchor really raised his biking to another level. As Jay said, he isn’t looking for any accolades and really helps the rest of us enjoy biking and helping the cause.’’
There’s still time to donate to the cause. The link to Joe’s donation page is https://anchorhouseride.rallybound.org/Joe Boyce or make a check payable to Anchor House Foundation and mail to: Joe Boyce, 74 Juniper Drive, Levittown, Pa. 19056.