Dartmouth riders pedal for a cause in modified Buzzards Bay Ride

Oct 4, 2020

Driving through Russells Mills village on Sunday, you might have noticed more than a few cyclists riding up Horseneck road — 265 to be exact. 

On Oct. 4, the cyclists — 24 of whom were from Dartmouth — pedaled across the South Coast as part of the Buzzard Bay Coalition’s annual Watershed Ride, a scenic bike tour that typically takes cyclists from Little Compton in Rhode Island to Woods Hole on Cape Cod. 

In addition to raising awareness and cycling along the bay the coalition dedicates itself to protecting, the ride is also one of the organization’s biggest fundraisers. This year, riders raised $200,000 — $4,310 of which was earned by Dartmouth resident Jeff Gonsalves.

Normally three routes, cyclists instead chose between two. The longest 62-mile route began at Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, while a 30-mile route began at Horseneck Beach in Westport. 

Both routes ended at Fort Taber park in New Bedford. 

“It’s really a Westport-Dartmouth focused route,” coalition president Rasmussen said. “Cyclists love this end of the ride — people always tell me how this segment is the prettiest.” 

In addition to the route modification, a number of measures were adopted to facilitate social distancing, such as a staggered start and expanded water stop areas with volunteers constantly disinfecting equipment.

“It may have been different from our traditional ride, but this was perfect,” Rasmussen said. “With this, you have 62 miles to keep your distance.”

Even with the new rules, the riders were thrilled to be out and enjoying the clear skies and warm October weather.

“What a beautiful day,” Dartmouth rider Jean Pitcairn said. “This was the absolute best ride in terms of weather.” 

Pitcairn said she didn’t mind the shortened route, noting that she actually appreciated not having to go all the way to the Cape, which she said is “surprisingly hilly.” 

She added she’ll most likely hop on the bike again in a week.

Fellow Dartmouth rider Richard Tabors also enjoyed this year’s watershed ride, saying that he thought the coalition “did a great job setting up a safe environment.”

Much like Pitcairn, Tabors also enjoyed not having to deal with the many hills along the Cape.

“Some of that last stretch can be tiring,” he said. “[Dartmouth] can be rolling, but the rolls are minor — just an incredible area for bicycling.”