New Jersey Bikers Put the Brakes on Hunger

They began arriving at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Kinnelon, New Jersey, early one sunny morning. Riding state-of-the-art Italian road bikes, tandems, scooters and tricycles, they came in all ages and sizes (the youngest was just one year old). 

In all, 241 riders took to the road for St. David’s annual Brake the Hunger Cycle bike tour. In its third year, the tour has become the largest charity bike event in northern New Jersey. The cyclists traveled five routes ranging from four to 62 miles, and over the course of the morning collectively covered more than 7,000 miles while enjoying scenic views of Morris County. Best of all, through entry fees and sponsorships, the bikers were able to raise tens of thousands of dollars to help people in need—while having a great time.

According to bike tour chair Mesrob “Mike” Odian, the longest course, the 62-mile Metric Century, was added this year for the first time. Winding through seven towns, the challenging route attracted more than 50 riders, as did the second-longest course, the 40-mile. Those who perhaps were not quite as athletic—but were just as enthusiastic—chose courses of four, 12, or 25 miles.

The bikers received support at four rest stops, where volunteers supplied drinks and high-energy snacks. Numerous other volunteers were on hand to ensure the riders’ safety and health, such as bike technicians, medical staff (including members of the Tri-Boro First Aid Squad), and officers from the Kinnelon Police Department, who provided traffic control and safety supervision.

Following the ride, the tired but happy riders celebrated at a barbecue that featured seemingly endless supplies of food and a masseuse to soothe their aching muscles. AisleFive, a local band, added to the festive air as they performed for the bikers and their supporters.

The only small cloud on the day, Mike said, was that Bishop Mark Beckwith of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark was unable to ride the Metric Century as planned, having suffered a biking accident the previous weekend. Fortunately, he was still able to come out to cheer on the other riders “and let us know how much our efforts are appreciated throughout the diocese,” Mike said.

Those efforts will go a long way to assist people both locally and globally. “We were able to raise $28,000 through the event this year—more than double last year’s total,” Mike said. Proceeds will shared by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and Episcopal Relief & Development. The funds allocated to Episcopal Relief & Development will support the agency and its partners in creating sources of clean water, such as wells, in developing countries. Safe drinking water greatly reduces the amount of illness and death from waterborne contaminants, especially among children.

Mike credited the event’s success to the hundreds of people who participated. In addition to the riders and their sponsors, along with the dozens of volunteers who gave their time and energy, many organizations, businesses and individuals helped defray costs with donations of money and in-kind goods.

“We thank St. David’s for supporting water projects through this year’s Hunger Cycle Tour,” said Brian Sellers-Petersen, Director of Church Engagement at Episcopal Relief & Development. “Because of the church’s vision and hard work, many more children and adults will have safe water and be able to lead healthier lives.”