Woony River Ride runs through local towns

Woony River Ride runs through local towns

Elliott Jakabhazy is pictured during last year’s Woony River Ride where he rode 40 miles to raise funds for the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council’s programs and bikeways.

SMITHFIELD – Returning for the ninth year, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council brings the Woony River Ride for cyclists of all levels to help raise funds to expand the local bike path.

The ride offers five routes in expanding order of difficulty and length starting from Waterplace Park in downtown Providence, traveling through various destinations, and ending back at the park. The one-day event will last all day on Saturday, Sept. 15.

Biking the hilly and often winding trails will take riders back to the Providence park for the “best after-party in town,” featuring live music from local band Oak Hill, local beer, and winner prizes, according to Alicia Lehrer, WRWC executive director.

The Woony River Ride invites cyclists to ride on the bike path through Apple Valley in Smithfield and North Smithfield, passing through parts of Johnston and North Providence along the way.

“The river flows through your town,” said Robin Jarzembowski, Woony River Ride event coordinator.

Each route, hitting five, 10, 30, 45 and 60 miles in length, has rest stops along the way with refreshments and mechanic assistance if needed.

“Each course promises beautiful and challenging rides for riders,” Lehrer said.

To participate, cyclists can pay an individual fee of $45, $20 per family member for families, and $25 for youth 14-18 years old. Visit www.woonyride.org for more information.

Lehrer said funding from the Woony Ride benefits WRWC youth programs such as the Red Shed Bike Camp, providing youths ages 8-13 with riding lessons, mechanic education, and a low-cost bicycles. One such rider is Elliott Jakabhazy, 13, of Providence, who has ridden the Woony River Ride for the past three years.

Elliott graduated from the Red Shed Bike Camp this year after participating for four years and said he does the Woony River Ride to promote and support the WRWC. According to Elliott, funds he raised from last year’s ride will pay for 25 children to go to bike camp free of charge.

“That’s why I do it. I really wanted to push above and beyond,” Elliott said.

He said he likes to ride a bicycle because he can go farther and see more than if he were running.

This year, Elliott said he will take on the difficult 60-mile route.

Elliott said he feels strongly about the Woony Ride helping the WRWC improve, expand and renovate the bike-path.

“We’re raising money to keep the bike path off the road. I don’t want to be riding on the roads, and children shouldn’t have to either,” he said.

Lehrer said the council is working on several bike-path expansion programs, including expanding a section of the greenway in Eagle Square in Olneyville and downtown Providence, that would make a restricted bike lane on busy city streets.

“We’re working on a statewide bike plan. We know people don’t feel comfortable with just those markings on the roads. We’re trying to make it safer,” she said.

Each year, the ride usually raised between $25,000 and $35,000 for WRWC pathways and programs, but Lehrer said she’d like to raise $50,000 this year. She said with more funding and time, she’d like to see the bike path connected and expanded across the state for everyone to enjoy.

“That’s what we’re going for, one piece at a time,” she said.