Love to ride your motorcycle along the picturesque country roads of the upper Raritan River watershed region?

If so, you’re invited to join the 15th “Ride for the River,” a motorcycle run on Saturday, June 9, to raise funds to support the conservation mission of Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA).

The 60-mile poker run takes bikers on a scenic tour of rural roads in Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties, especially those that parallel or cross rivers and streams. The Ride for the River starts and ends at the Spruce Run Recreation Area in Clinton Township, and will be followed by a picnic lunch, music and bike show. Non-riders are welcome to attend the picnic.

“It’s a nice, leisurely ride highlighting the beauty of the watershed,” says Amy Greene of Flemington, who organizes the event with her husband, John Belle. Both are avid motorcycle owners and devoted environmentalists.

“We find that motorcycle riders really appreciate protecting the environment,” Greene added. “They love riding through beautiful country roads, so it’s a good pairing.”

For this year’s Ride for the River, riders can arrive at Spruce Run anytime between 9 and 11 a.m. and enjoy coffee and light breakfast before taking to the road. The ride is not timed, so riders can depart any time before 11 a.m.

In a poker run, riders collect playing cards at stops along the route. By the end of the ride, they’ll have five cards to make a full poker hand. Prizes go to the riders with the best hands.

According to Belle, the riding and the poker stops generally add up to about two and a half hours. A picnic lunch, bike show and deejay and live music by Seamus Ronan of The Elevator Operators awaits riders upon their return to Spruce Run, where they can meet up with non-riding friends and family members.

The cost is $30 per rider/passenger, which includes an event T-shirt, breakfast and lunch. The cost for non-riders to attend just the picnic lunch from noon to 3 p.m. is $15 per person, vintage t-shirts will also be on sale. The event will be held rain or shine, and all makes of motorcycles are welcome.

Started in 2003

Greene and Belle have co-chaired the Ride for the River since its inception in 2003 as a fundraiser for the South Branch Watershed Association, which merged with the Upper Raritan Watershed Association in 2011 to form Raritan Headwaters.

Every year, Belle maps a different route incorporating as many river crossings as possible – and no unpaved roads. Before finalizing the route, he and Greene test it on their own bikes to make sure there are no road closures or construction.

Belle said he strives to make sure the ride is fun for participants. “You really get to experience nature a lot more when you’re riding your motorcycle,” he said. “There’s nothing separating you from your surroundings.”
Even non-riders can have fun admiring the variety of bikes. “People come with sidecars with their dogs in them, we’ve had trikes, and we had a crazy BMW bike that looked like a bullet,” he said. “And there are some beautifully painted and detailed cycles.”

Cindy Ehrenclou, executive director of Raritan Headwaters, thanked Greene and Belle for organizing the Ride for the River.

“We really appreciate all Amy and John have done,” she said. “Over the years, they’ve drawn hundreds of riders and have raised more than $150,000 for Raritan Headwaters. At the same time, they’ve raised awareness about our mission to protect clean water in rivers and streams.”

This year’s sponsors of Ride for the River include Amy S. Greene Environmental Consultants Inc., Arora And Associates, P.C., Basil Bandwagon Natural Market, Coldwell Banker Commercial Marine Division, Chris Larkey – Stifel Nicolaus & Company, Inc., Grotto Engineering Associates LLC, Bayshore Family of Companies, The Doggett Corporation, Thomas F. DiBianca, Esq., VS Land Data and Wilkin & Guttenplan, P.C.

About Raritan Headwaters

The largest watershed organization in New Jersey, Raritan Headwaters has been working since 1959 to protect, preserve and improve water quality and other natural resources of the Raritan River headwaters region through efforts in science, education, advocacy, land preservation and stewardship. RHA’s 470-square-mile region provides clean drinking water to 400,000 residents of 38 municipalities in Somerset, Hunterdon and Morris counties and beyond to some 1.5 million homes and businesses in New Jersey’s densely populated urban areas.

Raritan Headwaters won the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in 2015 and 2016 in the category of Water Resources.