The following post was guest blogged by Trenton resident, Earl Tutt.
While most of us slept late Saturday morning, they were up early ready for this date. They came from far and near, from all walks of life, various ages and ridings skills . . . . . . strangers until this day. Like legendary Robin Hood’s merry men, they quietly (at first) gathered among the trees of Caldwalader Park eager for their leader to give them instructions. They had but one banner, but so many brilliant colours that it rivaled the flowers all around them. The surrounding neighborhood on the outskirts of the park were curious about all this flurry of activity, as were the passersby in cars as they slowed down almost to a crawl. Some wondered, was this a concert like years long ago, or perhaps a huge family picnic. Little did they know they were right, at least on one account. This indeed a family . . . . . a family a bicycle enthusiasts anxious and eager to get started on nearly every imaginable cycles, gears and related items.
While the TCR crew fastidiously made certain that all was ready and accountable for many eyes kept searching for . . . . . . . Strangers never more after this day, these happy faces proudly displayed their bicycles as one would show off their newest Arabian horse. In different pockets one could hear them boasting of the Mercuric-like speed of their bicycle, the strength of the metal that was ultra lightweight, others proudly paraded their modified bike, while others introduced immodestly yet even stranger contraptions that was still a cycle!
Finally, a loud, boisterous and jovial voice boomed over the throng causing this crowd to respond in such an uproar, that the sleepy heads across from the park were now fully awakened. Behind his green tinted protective glasses, there was a huge twinkle in his eyes of approval that was accented by his devilish and boyish grin. This was Matt Rawls, the “Pied Piper” of the group. He had already checked in and now strutted down the fairway rallying this massive throng of at least five hundred challenging, not asking, were they ready?!! Like tossed caps at a college graduation, their voices rose high above even the tallest tree! Leaning forward with clinched fists as if against a gust of wind, he once more trumpeted the same question, “ARE YOU READY!!!” They again responded, but even louder than before. Still in that same good natured Errol Flynn swashbuckler’s manner, he now demanded to know where were his police escorts so they could get started. Now, you could feel the excitement swell to an almost feverish pitch, but the voices of the un-sung heroes reminded the riders of their helmets, to get their bicycles tires checked before they left, to make sure their water bottles were filled. I don’t know their names, but I always remember the faces of those un-named who contributed to ensure that this tour, this rally would go off without a hitch. Their assignments were made in advance and were flawlessly carried out to make this a success!!
Finally, our cameras turned away from the crowd to see where they were looking. At last the police escorts had arrived. In a profusion of every color in the rainbows, the starting line was a blur against a sea of smiling faces. Then, they were gone. Red and black combinations, tuxedo with bow tie mocked shirts, colours reflected previous rides, regular bikes, extremely expensive bikes, tandems and un-imaginable bicycles flowed past me and other photographers in a procession that the city of Trenton has rarely, if ever seen before.
Slowly my friend and I, along with a cadre of supportive friends and family of the cyclists, wandered back to our cars and out of the park. Curiosity did seize my steering wheel however, because I found myself on the outer edge of the park watching the serpentine of riders snake their way along the tow path into Ewing, past the Country Club along Sullivan Way. Sure enough, Trenton’s finest had stopped traffic and were escorting the cyclists down Sullivan’s Way and across Rt 29 onto the neighborhood called The Island. Traffic was stopped in all directions by the police as the cyclist whizzed past the mounting line of vehicles. Even the most annoyed driver had to be filled with wonder and admiration for the strength in numbers of so many bicycle enthusiasts. Most had no idea that such a thing did exist in the area. Finally from my rear view mirror, I could see the flashing lights of the police escorts bringing up the rear. Still curious, I shadowed this parade of sorts as they rode along the River in Stacy Park until I saw them cross over on the overpass above 29 and head for W. State Street towards town. Knowing the route, I raced ahead of the group on Calhoun, stopping to let the cute female officer know that the bikes were on my heels, then headed up the alley parallel to State Street where a huge protest was starting to build in numbers. Finally, after spotting them in a few more places (downtown Willow Street among the many). I headed back home.
Although I haven’t ridden a bike since me and Ben Franklin it seems, I felt a sense of pride at what they were accomplishing. I am sure where ever they were spotted, the people also felt a since of pride and awe. A parade of that many riders meandering in and out of the city had to be an amazing site. Like the circus, but better, this was for the young and the old to be excited about. There were no fire engines blaring their lights and siren, no street cleaners to sweep and wash away any confetti, nor were there any bleachers or review stands covered by the press and news cameras or any city officials, but maybe one day !! It was worthy of such coverage in many people’s mind and in my heart. Well done TRENTON CYCLING REVOLUTION.