North Jersey cyclists are an enthusiastic bunch.
Several hundred bicyclists turned up last week to ride in the 34th annual Ramapo Rally at Campgaw Mountain Ski Area in Mahwah, held by the Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey. And more headed out Sunday to tackle part of the ride again.
Almost 350 riders participated in the rally, which offered six ride lengths: 125, 100, 62, 45, 25 and 12 miles. The rides took the bikers through various parts of New Jersey, including country roads, gated estates, lakes and farmlands, including an alpaca and llama farm.
"We had over 1,500 participants registered, but the rain kept most people away," said Joel Ringer of the bicycling club. "However, a group of about a dozen rode the 100 mile ride and a larger group of about 30 to 40 rode 62 miles with professional rider Tony Cruz."
Cruz, a road racer who won the U.S. National Criterium Championships in 1999 and was a teammate of Lance Armstrong on the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams, led the 62-mile ride, club president Ethan Brook said.
"There were even three gentlemen who came with their 12-year-old sons to ride in the rain. It was rather remarkable," said Charles Cino, also of the BTCNJ.
Although there were a few negative comments from participants who registered in advance and wanted their money back because of the weather, most participants seemed to enjoy the experience.
"I did the metric century and while it was wet, to be honest, I didn't see one flash of lighting," posted Kelvin Gary of Butler on the Ramapo Rally Facebook page, referring to the 62-mile ride. "You can't blame the organizers for weather and since it does take so much work to put these efforts together there is almost never a rain date. Great job guys! I'm looking forward to my next BCTNJ event."
However, the organizers did take precautions to deal with the weather.
"We tried to get people to not do the 125 mile ride," said Ringer, "In fact, most people downscaled. People who usually do the 100 mile ride did the 62, etc."
The Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey donates some of the proceeds from the Ramapo Rally to Camp Sunshine, a facility for multi-disabled children and adults in Ridgewood. Although organizers said it was too early to tell how much money will be donated this year, last year, BCTNJ gave $10,000.