With a little help from a lot of friends

Rob Gusky HRCentury/ Community Ride 2016 by Carlos Rogers
Rob Gusky HRCentury/ Community Ride 2016 by Carlos Rogers

Tethered to my workplace until 5PM that day I knew I would be unable to catch the arrival of the HRCentury riders, so I appealed to the Universe and it delivered in the form of this great pic of HRCentury creator Rob Gusky from Carlos Rogers.

Rob looks pretty fresh after biking a hundred miles from Millburn, NJ to Riverton.

Susan Dechnik sent in most of the following photos.

The ride took longer than anticipated since the cyclists ran into a punishing headwind for much of it.

Also conceived by Rob Gusky, the 3-Mile Community Ride was to follow the conclusion of this second realization of the Historic Riverton Century, and many residents of all ages awaited in the former District parking lot.

HRCentury 2016 button
HRCentury 2016 button

Meanwhile, HSR member Susan Dechnik handed out souvenir buttons bearing Anne Racioppi‘s imaginative logo and explained the connection to the 1895 NYC-Riverton Relay Race to those who were unaware.

Carlos Rogers commends the HRCentury riders
Carlos Rogers commends the HRCentury riders

The arduous trip caused the bicyclists to converge on the parking lot from different directions and not all at once.

Carlos Rogers congratulated Rob and the other riders. A cheer arose from the crowd as the Community Ride began led by the Century riders.

The ride ended with a ceremony at Memorial Park.

Mayor Cairns Wells at left, President Phyllis Rodgers, Town Historian Paul Schopp
Mayor Cairns Wells at left, President Phyllis Rodgers, Town Historian Paul Schopp

Mayor Suzanne Cairns Wells, Lifelong Wheelman Gary Sanderson and Riverton’s Town Historian Paul W. Schopp each addressed the audience and congratulated the athletes on their achievement.

In his address Mr.Schopp acknowledged that “…women have always maintained a keen interest in cycling and the mix of riders in today’s Riverton Century uphold the long legacy of female cyclists,” and described the 1895 Tri-State Relay Race which inspired Rob to create the Historic Riverton Century in 2014. Find a text file of his address here.

Gary Sanderson
Gary Sanderson

Attired in vintage wheelman gear and displaying his restored 1895 Indian Racer bicycle, Gary Sanderson described the adversity experienced by the riders in 1895 with traveling miserable roads on failure-prone single-speed bicycles. Read Gary Sanderson’s remarks here.

Bill Hall at left, Rob Gusky, Carlos Rogers at right
Bill Hall at left, Rob Gusky, Carlos Rogers at right

Mr. Gusky cited nonagenarian Bill Hall for his dedication to bicycling, and recognized Carlos Rogers for creating in 2011 the Historic Riverton Criterium which every year contributes money to local organizations and individuals. To date Carlos has distributed over $20,000!

Rob recognizes the women athletes
Rob recognizes the women athletes

Gusky called up the women participants in this year’s HRCentury and Phyllis Rodgers and Pat Brunker presented them and the men with sashes reminiscent of those worn by riders in 1895.

Later, many in the group met at Riverton’s Orange Blossom Cafe to eat and to recount details of their experience.

Everyone agreed that the two big bike spectacles now associated with the second weekend in June are community assets which combine to promote the sport of bicycling as well as provide family fun.

Rob recaps the day for Bill Brown
Rob recaps the day for Bill Brown

Perhaps it was the influence of the euphoria of a bicyclist’s high, but Gusky and Crew were already heard scheming to recreate the next ride.

Are you up for it?

Later on Facebook, Rob Gusky generously thanked the many people and organizations that made this year’s Riverton Century and Community Ride a success.

Century route planner Randy “Wheels” Jackson of the Major Taylor Cycling Club also wrote a lengthy Facebook piece recognizing those who had made it possible for him to “…relax and enjoy the ride.”

The creation of the Historic Riverton Century Ride by Rob Gusky and the Historic Riverton Criterium by Carlos Rogers now rank among the most treasured traditions of the Borough. The Historical Society of Riverton is privileged to be associated with them both.

Please add your own photos or submit comments. – JMc

 

 

 

 

 

Annie Londonderry’s legacy

Miss Londonderry
Miss Londonderry

These webpages have recounted the exploits of the riders of the 1895 New York Times Tri-State Relay Race more than a few times. As that event unfolded in June 1895, Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky, a young mother of three children, was just three months from completing her goal of bicycling around the world  – a remarkable achievement she supposedly undertook on a wager between two wealthy Boston club men.

Seemingly impossible conditions imposed on the bet was that she start penniless, not accept handouts, earn $5,000 along the way, and complete the journey in fifteen months.

annie_londonderryMrs. Kopchovsky financed her adventure with income earned through product endorsements, by displaying advertising banners on herself and on her bike, by giving riding demonstrations, selling photos and souvenirs, and by making personal appearances.

August 12, 1895, Denver Rocky Mountain News, p.3
August 12, 1895, Denver Rocky Mountain News, p.3

Not far into her trip, newspapers dubbed her Annie “Londonderry,” a sobriquet earned when she started to display a placard for the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company on her bike as a promotion.

It would be generous to say that she was given to tall-tales and embellishment in telling of her exploits. In interviews and later wrings the natural entrepreneur and master of self-promotion constantly reinvented her own back story and told sensational tales of hunting Bengal tigers with a German prince, close calls with encountering highwaymen in France, and of time spent in a Japanese prison. She may have even fabricated her claim that a wager inspired her.

Press and Horticulturist, June 8, 1895, p.1
Press and Horticulturist, June 8, 1895, p.1

Periodicals of the era chronicled her adventures much as they followed the travels of Nellie Bly in her successful attempt in 1889, to break the record of Phileas Fogg, the fictional character from Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days.

Annie completed her circumnavigation in just under fifteen months.

But unlike the her globe-trotting counterpart Nellie Bly, the exploits of Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, which advanced women’s bicycling in the United States and made her one of the most celebrated women the 1890s, were largely forgotten until author Peter Zheutlin penned Around the World on Two Wheels in 2007.

Since then, Londonderry’s remarkable story has been the subject of dozens of blogs, magazine articles, a 2011 musical play by Evalyn Parry called SPIN, and a 2013 documentary film produced by Gillian Klempner Willman titled The New Woman – Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovsky

In 2006, filmmaker Gillian Klempner Willman sought to recreate the leg of Annie’s 1894 trip from New York City to Boston with the help of Gary Sanderson, antique bicycle enthusiast and current editor American Bicyclist Magazine, and others.

Ms. Willman’s described Mr. Sanderson’s contribution in her April 15, 2006 blog entry.

Gary Sanderson, image credit: spokeswomanproductions.com
Gary Sanderson, image credit: spokeswomanproductions.com

The Society is most fortunate to have Gary Sanderson appear with his c.1895 Indian Racer at the Historic Riverton Century and 3-Mile Community Ride Ceremony on June 11.

Rob Gusky, originator of the June 11 event reports that at least six women athletes have registered to ride at eventbrite.com.

Carlos Rogers’ Historic Riverton Criterium on June 12 features a Women’s Cat 1/2/3 event that promises a $500 purse, neutral support, beauty and haircare gift baskets for the top 3 places, and cash primes!

HRC_cowbell

When you watch those women athletes next weekend remember the debt owed to the legacy of Annie Londonderry which has helped make their participation possible.

And make some noise with those cowbells. – JMc

Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever. – Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106 BC – 43 BC