Mike and Anne Kruimer are feeling a bit-well-fuelish. This fall they plan to traverse the length of the eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida on less than a single gallon of gasoline. And as if that is not ambitious enough, they intend to make a little history while they are at it.
Between Sept. 12 and Nov. 3, 2004, the Kruimers and eight other cyclists from around the nation will be the first people ever to ride the full length of the East Coast Greenway, averaging 60 miles daily over 53 days for a total 2,800 miles. This inaugural tour will raise critically needed funds to develop and sustain the Greenway, frequently referred to as the urban sister to the Appalachian Trial because it links cities from Calais, Maine to Key West, Fla. utilizing scores of urban greenways, waterfront esplanades, park paths, and abandoned railroads.
The Kruimers, both 50, of Edison, are avid cyclists and trail supporters, riding around 4,000 miles annually. They are also two of the tour’s more extraordinary participants. Paralyzed at the waist in a 1992 cycling accident, Anne rides a specially-designed tandem bicycle, “pedaling” with a hand crank in the front while Mike commandeers the rear. A true tandem, they ride together or not at all. Since the accident virtually every aspect of their lives has changed. Every aspect, that is, save one.
“It’s always been our dream to ride across the United States,” Mike explains, “but after Anne’s accident it looked like we would never be able to do it. Twelve years later we’re now going to be among only 10 cyclists to ride the inaugural tour of the East Coast Greenway from Canada to Key West. That’s huge. It’s not our original dream, but doing this trip puts us back on that track we were on 12 years ago.”
Named one of 16 National Millennium Trails in 2000 by former First Lady Hillary Clinton and the US Secretary of Transportation, the East Coast Greenway ranks alongside the Appalachian Trail and Alaska’s Iditarod. Passing through 15 states plus Washington, D.C., the trail is today 20 percent complete with the goal of 80 percent realization by 2010. Route highlights include Maine’s fabled rocky coast, the Manhattan skyline, Spanish moss-festooned oaks in coastal Georgia, and the architectural treasures of Florida’s St. Augustine and Miami Beach.
But there is just one catch.
Each cyclist riding the First ECG Maine to Florida Tour is required to raise $10,000 in pledges to participate. Mike and Anne may ride one bicycle, but they are still two cyclists and that means having to rally $20,000 in pledges before September to secure their place in the tour. So far the couple has raised only $8,000, just over a third of the total amount. With less than two months to go, they try to remain confident that the money will come in. From somewhere.
On Sunday, Aug. 15, 2004 the couple will host a fund-raiser bike ride in Lawrenceville at the Brearly House, located on Meadow Road off of Princeton Pike. They call it “Hold That Dream: A Benefit for Mike and Anne’s End-to-End Tour,” and cyclists of all ability levels are invited. Beginning at 9:00 a.m., there will be three rides to join – 10, 25 and 40 miles – and a hike along the D & R Canal towpath beginning at 10:00 a.m. for those who would rather walk. The cost of participating in the ride is $30 per adult and $15 per child, ages 10 and under. Children under 10 ride free. Other festivities will go on from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., including music, wagon rides, activities for children, antique bicycle riders, food and a raffle. Tours of the historical Brearly House will also be given.
At 2:00 p.m., interested participants will head out on the D & R Canal towpath for a 2:30 p.m. ribbon cutting on the new pedestrian bridge over Route 1 in Lawrenceville which now connects the towpath over the highway. Elected officials and representatives of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail will be present. Parking will be available on the Route 1 northbound side of the highway right near the bridge, north of Franklin Corner and Bakers Basin Road.
Contributions for the Kruimers may be sent to the Greenway’s parent organization, the East Coast Greenway Alliance, with the couple’s names in the check’s memo line, or by logging on to the Alliance’s website at www.greenway.org, clicking on the tour logo, and following the link to the Kruimers’ fundraising page. Donors may also send checks payable to the ECGA, c/o Mike and Anne Kruimer, 33 Parkerson Road, Edison, NJ, 08817. For information, call (732)287-9447.
“You’ve got to get out of the car and enjoy the world,” says Mike. Anne echoes, “Get on a bike and smell the roses. The ECG isn’t just for cyclists; it’s for people of all abilities.