From West To East, They “Rocked”

Melissa Bailey Photo April Merleaux put on a bicycle-print dress, strapped her son Leo into the passenger seat, and set off for the East.

She and her husband Derek (pictured) were among nearly 300 cyclists who pedaled from West Rock to East Rock Saturday for the second annual Rock to Rock festival.

The day began with cheese grits and eggs at Common Ground, an environment-themed charter school at the base of West Rock.

Cycling enthusiast Paul Hammer kicked off the ride after demonstrating safety signs over a megaphone. The ride celebrated the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

The group stopped in Edgewood Park for a water break. Two next-door neighbors, Matthew Goldbum and Eleanor Law (pictured), took a moment to rest in the grass.

At Beaver Ponds Park, a group of students from the Sound School and Common Ground planted trees.

David Streever (pictured), part of an emergency bike-fixing team, came to the rescue with a new tube to fix a flat. Five guys looked on and timed him.

The ride snaked down the Farmington Canal Trail ...

... past a pink tree, which bloomed behind a stripped-down warehouse across from the Monterey Homes.

“You Rock,” declared a welcome sign in East Rock Park, where the ride ended.

Cyclists were greeted by vendors peddling kettle corn, Caseus grilled cheese, and apartments in 360 State Street.

At least a dozen riders completed the ride to the summit of East Rock. Sal Frumento (pictured) pedaled to the top on his ‘98 Giant TCR bike. He posed for his friend’s camera at the sunny overlook. At 68 years old, he declared himself the “oldest punk rocker in town.”

Also at the summit, ornithologist Mark Aronson reported he had counted 35 different types of birds along the ride, including a monk parakeet.

Each cyclist raised at least $25 to join the ride, and some went far beyond. In all, the rock-to-rockers raised about $20,000, according to organizer Joel Tolman of Common Ground. That’s twice the amount donated last year, he said.

The money will go to a panoply of environmental groups: Common Ground, Solar Youth, New Haven Parks Department, Friends of East Rock Park, Friends of Beaver Pond Park, The Urban Resources Initiative, Elm City Cycling, Friends of Edgewood Park, Sierra Club’s Inner City Outings, and New Haven/Leon Sister City Project.

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posted by: Joel on April 26, 2010  8:26am

Thanks to the fine crew at Solar Youth for leading up planning on this year’s Rock to Rock ride, and to all the great volunteers who came out to lend a hand!

posted by: streever on April 26, 2010  9:51am

This was a really great event! Thank you for including Elm City Cycling in this event. Looking forward to 2011!

posted by: Nan Bartow on April 26, 2010  9:55am

Rock to Rock has become a highly successful tradition in New Haven.  It is a way for New Haveners of all ages—from one year old to eighty years old—to experience Earth day and the glory of spring by bicycle riding from West Rock to East Rock passing through Edgewood Park and Beaver Pond Park.  In addition the event raises money for environmental groups.  Thanks to Solar Youth who provided leadership and organization this year and to Common Ground who initiated the event last year.

posted by: 7836875647677 on April 26, 2010  8:01pm

That bicycle print dress is really chic!  Though get rid of the helmet, it ruins the whole look.

posted by: Derek on April 26, 2010  8:39pm

The helmet says, “I wouldn’t be this cute with brain damage” :)

posted by: two2three on April 26, 2010  10:43pm

Think “redbud” when you see the many deep-pink flowering trees along the Farmington Canal trail. Appropriate for earth day, the redbud not only traps carbon but fixes nitrogen enriching the soil. Look closely at the beautiful pea-like flowers or, in the fall, pick one of the delicate peapods and plant yourself a redbud.