For Boyce, rain made Anchor House ride wet and wild

Joe Boyce

       If you’re about to cover 500 miles on a bicycle in a week with no room for a rain day, the last thing you need to see when you pull back those motel drapes is a drab sky.

      That’s why Joe Boyce allowed himself a sympathetic groan a week ago when the Levittown native was well into his annual “Ride for Runaways.”

      On Monday, July 7, somewhere in rural Connecticut the rains came hard and heavy, causing a rare postponement of a segment of the annual two-wheel journey.

      More than a hundred cyclists from central New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania glumly watched the raindrops fall.

      “It was a torrential downpour, flooded streets, mudslides,” said Boyce, referring to conditions along the opening route through Massachusetts and Connecticut. ““Closed streets.

      “First time in my 15 years and only the seoncd time in 45 years we had to get bussed to the next hotel. The bikes were packed up on a truck.”

      The cyclists had been bussed from Trenton to Massachusetts and were taking back roads to make it home to the Garden State. Things just didn’t go so well.

      “It was a safety issue,” Boyce said. “Visibility poor. This was an all-day rain. There were road closures and a lot of detours. This was not going to be an easy day. It was a good decision.

      “It just sort of threw things off, kind of unexpected. It was just a weird feeling, to be on the Anchor House ride and not ba able to ride one day.”

      To make matters even more challenging, the riders woke up Friday morning in Pennsylvania only to be greeted by some more wet stuff.

      “It was raining early in the morning and then the hotel had no power,” Boyce said. “The SAG crew had to do a detour because there were roads closed. My group got out and within five miles we were hit with a torrential downpour.

      “They stopped anyone who hadn’t started yet so they got pushed back an hour. We were already caught in it for about 15 miles. Again, it was low visiblity. . .we were just puttering along, trying to stay on the road.”

      These were the times, as the saying goes, that try men’s souls.

      “Thankfully we got it done,” Boyce said. “It was stressful.”

      All that said, there was no quit in this bunch. They were on a mission and it would take more than some bad weather to dampen their spirits.

      “You know you rely on your experience, you rely on your biking partners,” Boyce said. “You just sort of feed off each other’s confidence. Even if you feel a little weary, if you feel it’s going to be difficult.

      “I mean the fact that everyone else is out there doing it, you do sort of take some strength from that. You’re not out there alone. Other people are doing this with you and you’re doing it for a cause.”

      Indeed. Boyce and other riders started training as far back as February. They weren’t going to be deterred by the wet stuff.

      For Boyce, there was extra incentive. As mentioned, it was his 15th ride and raising money for homeless and neglected kids never gets old.

      “I never thought I would get this far,” he stated. “I never thought I would get to five years. It just brought back all the reasons that I love doing it. Not just the endurance challenge but all the people who are dedicated to doing it for such a great cause.”

      Funds raised by the event go to the Anchor House project which provides housing, etc. for neglected youth.

      Other Bucks County participants for this year’s ride included John Telencio, Bill Garrett and Mark Grasman.

      They all keep coming back, year after year, because they know it’s for a great cause.

      “It keeps you coming back again and again,” Boyce said. “Everytime I go into the Anchor House, I think ‘maybe this will be it. Maybe this will be the year I get it done.’ But then I just want to do it again.”

      The riders did more than 21,000 feet of climbing throughout the week. Aside from the tricky weather, the rest of the ride was pretty darn fun.

      “Very hilly but beautiful scenery,” Boyce said. “We went around about a 30-mile loop on a giant reservoir. Stunning stuff.”

      All the thousands of miles of training paid off.

      “Very gratifying,” Boyce said. “There were some two-mile climbs with a 16-percent grade. It was hard but at no point in time was there any ‘Oh, I can’t do this.’ It was just a matter of churning your legs and knowing you were going to make it.”

      It ended with a sunny day in Trenton.

      “We biked through some bad weather but there’s always sunshine on the horizon,” said Boyce, who raised nearly $12,000 in sponsorships. “It was very gratifying.”

 

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About Wayne Fish 2446 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.