“Biking for me is a way to not only stay in shape, but to see new places, meet new people, and support a variety of causes,” said English teacher Ron Monroe, avid cyclist.
As a child, Mr. Monroe liked to bike around his neighborhood and with his friends. Later, in his late twenties and thirties, he took up biking again as a way to stay fit. While he still likes the exercise, biking also allows Mr. Monroe to engage with the community. The most recent ride he took part in was the Pedal to the Medal ride associated with the Hartford Marathon, which took place on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. “There has always been a fun ride accompanying the [Hartford] Marathon,” Mr. Monroe said. “In past years, I ran the half marathon. However, when I heard that a bike ride was offered, I felt it was a great way to stay involved in my community while doing something I love to do.”
The Hartford Marathon started at 8 a.m., so bikers arrived at 3 a.m. Last year, the bike ride was set up so that bikers rode the whole 26 mile marathon route. “We were escorted by police because we were riding in the middle of the night, and we also had to have lights on our bikes,” Mr. Monroe said. However, this year, the Hartford Marathon, which again started at 8 a.m. with bikers arriving at 3 a.m., was organized differently.
“The bike ride was in the middle of the night again, but this time, we rode along the CT Fastrak bus lanes from New Britain to Hartford. Bikers could travel at their own speed and since we had the lanes to ourselves, we could go off on our own ways.”
Not only did Mr. Monroe get out on his bike because it’s an activity that he loves, but he also made a difference in the community, as there was a fundraiser associated with the Marathon’s bike ride. A large portion of the money donated went to BiCo Co, a nonprofit organization that promotes bike use in the Hartford area, works with Hartford’s youth to provide them with bikes, and teaches them bike maintenance.
Along with the Hartford Marathon bike ride, Mr. Monroe is involved in a variety of other rides, such as Hartford Cranksgiving, which occurs the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This ride starts at Trinity College and ends at Grace Episcopal Church in Hartford. Each biker has to go to four different grocery stores in the Greater Hartford area and purchase food items to be donated to the food pantry called “A Place of Grace” at Grace Episcopal Church. “We use our own money to buy food, which covers registration, and we also carry the food on our bikes, which requires more strength.”
Last year was Mr. Monroe’s seventh year taking part in this ride. “About 50 bikers participate, which is great, as the food pantry relies upon the infusion of food during Thanksgiving,” he said. “This ride is such a good way to contribute and connect with the community.”
In addition to participating in marathons and other local bike rides, every summer since 2003, Mr. Monroe has been involved with various bike tours. “In 2003, I took a year off of teaching when KO offered a sabbatical program. I biked across the country from San Diego to St. Augustine in about 11 weeks with a group of other bikers,” he said. “This was a really interesting way to experience new places at a much slower pace than if I rode across the country in a car. It also allowed me to be outdoors, which I love.”
From that point on, Mr. Monroe has done a bike tour every summer in both the United States and Canada. “Last summer I biked the San Juan Islands in the state of Washington, as well as Vancouver Island in British Columbia,” Mr. Monroe said, “so, there was some ferrying, but also a lot of bike riding on these islands. This is my type of vacation, which isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I really like it.”
Whether he is riding his stationary bike indoors in the dead of winter, biking across the country on summer bike tours, or supporting a number of causes with local rides, Mr. Monroe seeks to use his bike for a variety of purposes, while still having fun doing something he loves.