Hundreds of cyclists will commemorate the change from summer to fall with a leisurely bike ride along the Schuylkill River Trail followed by a music festival featuring bands such as Marah, Entrain and The Whiskeyhickon Boys.
The 4th Annual Ride for the River returns Saturday, Sept. 28, and is held in partnership with Sly Fox Brewery’s annual Can Jam Festival.
The festival, which is free to attend, includes an impressive band lineup, food and a KanJam Tournament. Every Ride for the River participant receives a voucher for a free beer or beverage as well as a food item to be used at the festival.
People can learn more about the cycling event and register at www.RideForTheRiver2019.com.
The Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area organizes the bike ride which begins and ends at the festival, located at 331 Circle of Progress Drive in Pottstown. Participants have the option of a 16-mile ride or a 35-mile ride along the Schuylkill River Tail. The 16-mile distance goes from Pottstown to Union Township Recreation Area and back. The 35-mile distance goes from Pottstown to Reading and back.
“Ride for the River, a friendly group cycle, showcases the Schuylkill River Trail in a unique way. Participants will enjoy a relaxed ride on a picturesque stretch of the trail which includes views of the beautiful river,” said Schuylkill River Greenways NHA Executive Director Elaine Paul Schaefer.
Nate Bach, 26, of Reading, joined the annual ride last year for the first time. He said the event sounded like a fun time with the bonus of having beer, food and music at the festival afterwards.
“Not only was I biking and recreating along this beautiful bike trail but afterwards The Wailers were playing,” Bach said.
Bach did the bike ride with his sister and said bringing a friend along makes it that much more fun. Although it was his first time riding that specific section of the trail, Bach said it was great and very accessible.
“It’s just a nice, fun outdoor activity to do in beautiful September weather,” he said. “It’s not a race. You’re doing it at your own pace.”
Rob Kuhlman, Schuylkill River Greenways board member, has participated in Ride for the River every year. Kuhlman is also on the Ride for the River planning committee and said a lot of preparation happens to make this a safe ride for everyone.
Both route options take place primarily along the flat and crushed stone Schuylkill river Trail. There is a short 5-mile on-road piece between where the ride begins in Pottstown and the off-road trail piece. The entire route is marked with biodegradable arrow stickers and volunteers help direct cyclists at road crossings. There’s also a group of cyclists who will offer on-ride support during the event.
“We have crossing guards or fire police at all of the critical junctures. We have EMT staff available at the halfway point,” Kuhlman said. “Our annual questionnaire feedback tells us it’s a very, very well supported ride.”
Kuhlman said the cycling event allows people to see parts of Montgomery and Berks counties in a way they’ve never seen it before if this is their first time on the trail.
“It’s a gorgeous trail. It’s one of the prettiest trails in the country especially at that time of year when the leaves are starting to change color,” he said.
Schaefer said the ride and the trail are tools used to help people discover other opportunities available in the area.
“The trail is an attraction in and of itself, but it also draws users to experience the entire Schuylkill River region and the communities within it. There are so many places to visit and things to see along the trail including towns, museums and restaurants,” she said.
In addition to highlighting the region’s resources, Ride for the River benefits the Schuylkill River Trail as a fundraiser.
“This is a critical fundraiser for citizen and monetary support for the trail,” Kuhlman said. “Essentially, all of our revenue goes right into trail maintenance and trail operations.
Schuylkill River Greenways works with partners to build, improve and promote the trail. One of the largest finished sections is the 20-mile Pottstown to Reading stretch, maintained by Schuylkill River Greenways. There are currently 75 miles of the Schuylkill River Trail completed. When it’s finished, it will run 120 miles from Frackville to Philadelphia. A list of current trail projects can be found on the website schuylkillriver.org
Cycling in the annual ride isn’t the only way people can support the Schuylkill River Trail and the nonprofit Schuylkill River Greenways. Ride for the River is made possible every year through the dedication of many volunteers and the generous sponsorships of several individuals and organizations.
Volunteers are needed to help with road crossings, route markings and other general activities. All volunteers receive a free T-shirt, a free beer or beverage voucher and a free food voucher.
If you’re interested in volunteering, visit bit.ly/RideForRiverVolunteer or email email@example.com. If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 484-945-0200.
For more information about Schuylkill River Greenways , including other activities and programs planned for the year, visit schuylkillriver.org