Avid supporters of the East Coast Greenway enjoy a week’s tour of the route in Florida while raising funds
The following appeared on the East Coast Greenway Alliance website on November 20, 2019. It is being shared today by John Martin. John joined the East Coast Greenway Alliance as communications manager in February 2019. He is based in Durham, North Carolina.
KEY WEST, Fla. – A 9-year journey along the entirety of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway came to a fun-filled finish on Friday, Nov. 15 when a group of 40 cyclists plus support staff reached Key West, Florida, to wrap the final leg of the East Coast Greenway Alliance’s Week-A-Year (WAY) Tour.
Beginning in 2011 in Calais, Maine, the WAY Tour riders spent one southbound week per year on the Greenway, picking up where they left off the previous year. This year, the group departed Titusville, Florida, on Saturday, Nov. 9 and pedaled more than 400 miles over seven days en route to Key West.
“It was difficult; I’m glad we did it,” said Dave Read, a former Greenway board chair who spawned the idea of the WAY Tour nearly a decade ago. “It took 9 years – a week a year at a time – but we arrived from the Canadian border, and I’m so glad to be here at the southernmost point. Thank you all for being here with us.”
After reaching the terminus of the Greenway, the group posed for photos at the iconic southernmost point of the continental United States. Officials from the City of Key West welcomed the riders with a specially constructed arch of multicolored bicycles, creating a fitting photo backdrop along with the Atlantic Ocean.
Nearly half of the group – many now age 65 or older – have now completed the entire East Coast Greenway, one week at a time. They were honored with personalized Greenway wayfinding signs at a closing celebration, which included a warm welcome to Key West by representatives from the famed Conch Republic.
This year’s ride featured overnight stops in Titusville, Melbourne Beach, Hutchinson Island, Delray Beach, Miami Beach, Key Largo, Marathon and Key West. Along the way the group contributed thousands of dollars to local economies with hotel stays, meals and other purchases. Fresh seafood, Cuban sandwiches and pastries, strong local coffee and refreshing post-ride beverages were favorites among the riders.
Fundraising in support of their annual ride, the group has contributed nearly $500,000 to the nonprofit East Coast Greenway Alliance. Along the way, they made friendships that will last a lifetime.
“The WAY Tour has been a highlight of the East Coast Greenway annual calendar. It’s an opportunity for this pioneering group of riders and trail advocates to see the culture and nature throughout our corridor. We thoroughly enjoyed our week in Florida and had a tremendous celebration in Key West honoring this group’s efforts in raising the profile of the Greenway and raising resources to make it safe for all to enjoy,” says East Coast Greenway Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano.
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