At 92, Carroll crosses the bike path off her bucket list

At 92, Carroll crosses the bike path off her bucket list

Spectators look on as All Out Adventures Program leader Patti Dougherty, and BHC volunteer Margaret Carroll peddle off along the Blackstone River Greenway. (Breeze photos by Sandy Seoane)

BLACKSTONE – For 27 years, Millville, Mass., resident Margaret Carroll served as a volunteer and advocate for the Blackstone River Greenway through her work with the Blackstone Valley Heritage Corridor, but she never thought she’d actually get the chance to ride the local segment of the path, a 3.7-mile dedicated trail that officially opened in September.

Last week, Carroll, 92, rode the trail on the back of a specialized tandem bike thanks to a collaboration between the corridor, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and All Out Adventures, an organization that works with DCR’s Universal Access Program to ensure that state parks are accessible to people of all abilities.

“When we came to the dedication of the Greenway, she said this was at the top of her bucket list,” said BHC Volunteer Coordinator Suzanne Buchanan. “She said, ‘I don’t think that will ever happen.’”

Last Thursday, Oct. 12, dozens of bikeway proponents, friends and family came out the watch a spunky Carroll take on the trail.

“This is the one thing I haven’t been able to do myself,” said Carroll, a local resident known for her dedication to the causes and promotion of the Blackstone Valley. A lifelong Millville resident, Carroll still serves on the town’s historical commission and last year served as grand marshal in the town’s centennial parade.

“I worked so hard to make this happen,” she said. “I hope my doing this will encourage others. There’s always ways to get out there and enjoy the bike paths.”

All Out Adventures Executive Director Karen Foster said Carroll isn’t the oldest cyclist her group has taken for a ride. One 99-year-old cyclist recently enjoyed a trail on a bike equipped with a wheelchair seat. The organization runs regular kayaking, canoeing, cycling, camping, and hiking adventures geared toward seniors and those with disabilities.

“DCR called and said, ‘Would you guys possibly have the time?’ and I said ‘Sure, it sounds amazing,’” Foster said of Carroll’s journey. “We want to make sure people know (that) no matter what, you can go for a bike ride.”

It was a warm and sunny day as Carroll departed from the bikepath parking lot at 93 Canal St. in Blackstone headed toward Adams Street in Uxbridge, Mass. The historically rich segment of the bikeway follows the Southern New England Trunkline Trail and passes by features including the Triad Bridge, which runs over the Blackstone River and Providence and Worcester Railroad. It is the latest segment of what proponents hope will someday be a 48-mile continuous and dedicated bike path running from India Point Park in Providence to downtown Worcester, Mass.

The 3.7 mile stretch also passes the Millville Lock, one of the few remaining of the 40 locks built on the Blackstone River, which once linked Worcester to Providence. The cyclists planned to make stops so that Carroll, known as Millville’s unofficial town historian, could expose a bit of knowledge.

The BHC and the town of Millville handed Carroll proclamations naming the event “Margaret Carroll on the Blackstone River Greenway Day.”

“She never ever misses anything that happens in her beloved town,” state Rep. Kevin Kuros said of Carroll, adding of the greenway, “It’s off the charts beautiful.”

Millville Town Administrator Jennifer Callahan said to Carroll, “They say the perfect gift for someone who loves the outdoors is to invite them on an adventure. You’ve invited us all on an adventure.”

“We owe you a debt of gratitude,” Callahan added. “We have an iconic voice speaking for this bikeway. This is a beautiful thing. We could have been decades out and never seen this happen, but because of DCR and the Blackstone Heritage Corridor and Margaret Carroll, we’re here now.”

Blackstone Heritage Corridor Executive Director Megan DiPrete puts an arm around BHC’s longest volunteer, Margaret Carroll.