For 38 years, a New Jersey-based bike riding group has embarked on a fundraising journey taking participants more than 500 miles in a week to raise money for a homeless shelter for youths.
This year, that route will take the team straight through the Berkshires.
"Our planners have always viewed the Berkshires as a little bit too much of a challenge for our riders," said Tim Quinn, co-chairman of the ride, which benefits Anchor House in Trenton. "But the feedback we've gotten on this planned route is really positive. We have some mountains and hills here in New Jersey, and our riders have been training."
Anchor House provides shelter to anywhere from 10 to 15 runaways at a time for as long as a month. It also runs a family counseling program and provides apartments to clients in their later teenage years and early 20s.
"These kids are the most vulnerable members of our community," Quinn said. "Many of them live in abject poverty. Some of them have been abandoned or abused by the people who had a responsibility to care for them. Some of them come from homes where there's addiction and mental health issues. Anchor House fills a very crucial need for these kids, who have nowhere else to go."
In past years, the ride has taken participants to Canada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York and elsewhere. Individual riders raise funds by having people sponsor their trip. Annual fundraising reaches as high as $600,000.
On Saturday, the riders will bus out to the starting point in Manchester, N.H. and set out from there, headed toward Trenton. The riders, as many as 200, will travel through Northampton, Adams, Pittsfield and Lenox during two days of biking in Massachusetts.
From the Berkshires, the crew will head to Kingston, N.Y., and south into New Jersey.
Quinn said the group hopes to enjoy the vistas and rise to the challenging terrain along the way.
"We're looking forward to some awesome scenery out there," he said. "The advance team has raved about the Berkshires."