Attention motorcycle riders! Want to enjoy a scenic ride “over the river and through the woods,” while raising funds to help protect local streams and water quality?
If so, you’re invited to join the 19th “Ride for the River,” a motorcycle run on Saturday, June 11, to support the conservation mission of the nonprofit Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA).
The annual 60-mile “poker run” takes bikers on a scenic tour of rural backroads in the upper Raritan River watershed of Hunterdon, Somerset, and Morris counties – especially those that parallel or cross rivers and streams.
Ride for the River starts and ends at Rollin’ Fast Cycle Sports on Route 22 in Lebanon, and will be followed by a barbecue lunch and music. Non-riders are welcome to attend the lunch.
“It’s a fun, leisurely ride allowing bikers and their passengers to take in the beauty of the watershed,” said Cindy Ehrenclou, Executive Director of Raritan Headwaters. “Over the years, motorcycle enthusiasts have raised more than $175,000 to help RHA protect local rivers and streams, and the surrounding countryside.”
Ride for the River honors the memory of the late John Belle, who founded the event in 2003 with his wife, Amy Greene. Belle, an avid motorcyclist and environmentalist, passed away in 2020 after a courageous battle with cancer.
Greene, also a motorcyclist, is carrying on the Ride for the River tradition by modifying one of the routes originally mapped by her husband. Every year until his passing, Belle created a different route incorporating as many river crossings as possible – but no unpaved roads.
“It’s definitely an over the river and through the woods kind of event,” Greene said. “This year, I think we’re going to highlight the South Branch and its tributaries, so we’ll be riding along farm fields as well.”
Check-in at Rollin’ Fast begins at 8:30 a.m., and a light breakfast will be offered. Bikers can leave any time after 9 a.m., and the route is designed to take about two hours. Because it’s a poker run, riders collect playing cards at designated stops along the way. By the end of the ride, they’ll have five cards to make a full poker hand.
A barbecue lunch, music, and fun activities await riders upon their return to Rollin’ Fast Cycle Sports, where they can meet up with friends and compare poker hands. Prizes will go to the riders with the best hands. There will also be a bike show, with “people’s choice” awards for best motorcycles.
“It’s always a lot of fun and it’s for a good cause,” said Greene. “There have been people who have come every year for the past 18 years. They care about protecting rivers, streams, and watersheds, and they love taking a beautiful ride in the country.”
The cost is $35 per rider or passenger, which includes an event T-shirt, poker hand, and lunch. The cost for non-riders to attend just the lunch from noon to 3 p.m. is $15 per person for those who pre-register, and $20 on the day of the event. T-shirts will also be on sale for $20. The event will be held rain or shine, and all makes of motorcycles are welcome.
Register online here. Riders can also sign up on the day of the event for $25, but on-site registration does not include a commemorative T-shirt.
Greene thanked Rollin’ Fast Cycle Sports, which has been the primary Ride for the River sponsor for years: “They’re unbelievable, and they’re doing it again this year!” Other sponsors so far include: Flemington Chiropractic Center, Davey Resource Group, Rider Education of NJ, Garden State Laboratories, Dimilia Inc., Basil Bandwagon Natural Market and Grotto Engineering Associates.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Ride for the River can contact Becca McNally at email@example.com.