ELIZABETH, NJ – The weather gods smiled on Elizabeth May 21, when approximately 700 cyclists took in the Sights and Sounds of the city during the 14thAnnual Tour de Elizabeth, beginning and ending at City Hall.
This year’s theme was the “Sounds of our City.” As riders pedaled 15 miles through the diverse neighborhoods and business districts, they heard local musicians from area schools as well as throughout Union County.
The Tour attracted cyclists of all skills levels from all over the state and even from out of state. City Hall employee Carol Campbell held her son Matt’s bike as he registered. He had come from Queens, New York, to participate. Serious riders like Steve Shaffer were on hand to enjoy his 30-year hobby. Likewise, Lillian Riberiro, a competitive racer and tri-athelon athlete, came to take part in the event. ”I love bike riding. I do it as a hobby. I try to stay active.”
The Tuga Cycling Den of Lions from Newark couldn’t be missed in their brightly colored team uniforms. They rode together under a huge flag.
Then there were the recreational riders like friends Kenya Harris from Newark and Vivian Little of Irvington. It was Harris’s second time for the Tour and Little’s fifth. “I like this ride,” said Harris. “It is just long enough for us unofficial riders.”
The Tour is also a great family activity. Elizabeth residents Jose and Giselle Almeda brought their seven-year-old son, Joven, along for the ride. “I love biking,” said Jose. “It is a family sport. It is way of supporting the community and letting folks know about the town.”
Trinitas’s Doug Harris and wife, Kathy, took advantage of the perfect weather. “This is not a hard ride,” said Doug.
Family members Sarah and Andrew Dupree, Olivia and Ryan Payumo, and Letty Sanchez came all the way from Clifton to ride together.
Elizabeth resident Cynthia Miranda came to show support for the city. She was there with her father, Jose, and fiancé, Benjamin Casablanca. Said Jose, “It is a beautiful day to ride, take a tour of the town, and get to see new stuff that I have never seen before.”
Roman Kowalozyk rode alone this year without his wife or daughter, Ewa, who instead stood on the sidewalk taking pictures. The family travels to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts to participate in bike tours. “Every year, we do this Tour. We love it. It makes me feel better. You practice. You are strong. You are going fast. You are in very good condition.”
The Tour raises money for a good cause. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the non-profit organization Groundwork Elizabeth. Their projects and efforts help beautify the city as well as promote the creation and conservation of green space by planting trees, building pocket parks, investing in urban agriculture, and raising environmental awareness through educational programs. For more information on Groundwork log on to www.groundworkelizabeth.org.