Goin’ back, by bicycle

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Don Carey ’51 and his wife, Barbara. (Courtesy Don Carey ’51)

Don Carey ’51 and his wife, Barbara, were not outdoors enthusiasts until they moved to New Hampshire in the early 1970s. But in the last 40 years, they’ve more than made up for lost time.

 
The Careys discovered a healthy appetite for adventure, climbing all of the 4,000-foot peaks in New England, hiking trails in England and Africa, running the New York City Marathon together at age 70, and biking back to Princeton Reunions three times, most recently in 2001.
 
The first three rides to Old Nassau drew little fanfare, but when the couple decided to make the trip again this year, the East Coast Greenway Alliance invited all alumni to follow their example. “I guess when you get to be 81 or 82,” Carey said, “people pay more attention.”
 
It also helps to have an alumni connection: Dennis Markatos-Soriano *08, who studied climate and energy policy at the Woodrow Wilson School, is the executive director of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, which is working develop a trail system that links the major cities of the eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida.
 
Markatos-Soriano said that the group encourages people to think of cycling “not only as recreation, but transportation as well.” Longer trips like the journey from New Hampshire to Princeton can help to raise awareness of other cycling options, like biking to work.
 
The idea of a reunion-themed cycling initiative seems to be generating some interest, said Markatos-Soriano, who plans to ride with a small group of cyclists from New Brunswick, N.J., to Princeton on May 26. “As an alum, I’d love for Princeton to be a pioneer,” he said.
 

The Careys planned to follow the East Coast Greenway on a combination of public roads and off-road trails. When they set off on a pair of sturdy touring bikes in early May, they had “cue sheets” to point out the correct turns for their route, but beyond that, they had a fairly open plan.
 
“We just kind of make it up as we go along,” Carey said. “We go inch by inch and don’t try to set any records.” In earlier trips, Carey might have aimed for 70 miles in a day. Now, it’s more like 30 or 40. And the longtime campers have switched to “credit-card touring,” finding motels instead of campsites to lighten the loads that they need to carry on their bikes.
 
For Carey, the trip is less about cycling and more about showing people “how to age crazily.”
 
“If it inspires anybody else,” he said, “that’s great.”

3 thoughts on “Goin’ back, by bicycle

  1. Don Carey

    An update: Barb and I arrived in Manhattan last Monday, after a 460-mile pedal on the East Coast Greenway from NH. Barb’s chain snapped and the derailleur tore off as we approached NYC in the Bronx. So we completed that leg of the journey on the #2 subway with fully loaded bicycles. We depart for Princeton on Tuesday. Not looking forward to NJ urban bicycling.

  2. David Hohmann '88

    I would like to see groups convoying back this way from all directions. What a fun way to sustainably celebrate and share the journey that takes us to Princeton, in life.

    I’m a daily bike commuter nowadays, year-round… building on my time spent biking around the campus at Princeton to and from classes, Prospect St., etc. I think the farthest I rode off campus was Quaker Bridge Mall and New Brunswick. For local transport, bikes are the best! Distance touring’s fun in a different sort of way.

  3. George Chang '63

    Great idea! I used to bicycle a lot around Princeton! I got as far as New York and Philadelphia a few times. (We weren’t allowed to operate motor vehicles within 35 miles of Princeton at that time)

    Maybe I should try bicycling to our 50th in a few years!

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