The organization has raised more than $120,000 across 21 partner organizations for its Saturday event.
Rachel Shin, Contributing Photographer
Rock to Rock, an environmental fundraising organization, is rallying support for the upcoming annual Earth Day cycling at East Rock Park this Saturday.
Rock to Rock has partnered with 21 Connecticut climate groups in its fundraising efforts, including Massaro Community Farm, Common Ground, and Gather New Haven. According to its website, the organization has collectively raised more than $120,000 by 2022 with its partner organizations. Earth Day Trips are open to cyclists and hikers of all skill levels, featuring several different route options. The metric century, or 60-mile, 40-mile, 20-mile and 12-mile route begins at East Rock, passes through West Rock and loops back to conclude at East Rock. Rock to Rock also organizes shorter family trips, such as the 5-mile trek to the top and the 1-mile trek within East Rock. There are also options for non-bikes, including hiking and flat trails. The journey will culminate with the Green Fair, an Earth Day festival featuring food, live music, and environmental-themed activities such as bicycle safety training.
“This trip is meant to support environmental work and community building, particularly by raising resources to expand environmental projects locally,” Rock to Rock co-leader Chris Schweitzer told News.
Rock to Rock has hosted Earth Day trips every year since 2009. Typically, trips attract about 1,100 participants, Schweitzer said. In 2020, the journey is completely secluded and individual. Last year, about 400 people attended a very staggered face-to-face trip, and this year Schweitzer expects 800 to attend. Because the trip doesn’t overlap with Yale’s Spring Fling like previous years, Schweitzer is also hoping to see greater student participation this weekend, he said.
Rock to Rock still encourages riders to stagger and ride in small groups to protect public health.
The event’s popularity and large attendance resulted in a wide choice of routes, said Rock to Rock co-leader Anna Pickett. As interest in the event increased over the years, organizers added more challenging and more family-friendly routes to the list. The organizers configured the route to feature a cityscape, Pickett said.
“We love choosing routes that feature New Haven parks and other natural beauty,” says Pickett. “Also, my organization, the Urban Resources Initiative, is planting New Haven street trees. So, on Saturday, we will take out the high school planting crew, and all the longer routes will be traversed by the planting crew.”
Rock to Rock has hosted a public event to build excitement for their upcoming trip. They had an outdoor launch party at Koffee? in early March, and a meeting at the Patagonia store on Broadway on April 21. The event provides an opportunity to rally support and allow cyclists to interact with the organizers, said Schweitzer.
Each partner group conducts their Rock to Rock fundraiser individually, competing to raise the most funds before the day of the event. Massaro Community Ranch is currently at the top of the leaderboard, having raised $55,592 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Each partner group also creates its own team of cyclists, and some design team uniforms or participate in team gimmicks. Massaro Community Farm cyclists brand themselves as Massaro Melonheads and will wear matching neon green T-shirts and watermelon-patterned helmets throughout the ride. There is also a t-shirt design competition which this year was won by Jodi Kaplan. This t-shirt is available for purchase on the Rock to Rock website.
“Riders will be very competitive to have the best costumes,” says Rock to Rock recruiter and cyclist Paul Proulx. “They will come up with some very unique profiles for their team. One year we had a band with cargo bikes playing as they rode. ”
The Green Fair, after party and Earth Day celebrations will conclude the event. The exhibition will feature food trucks; live music from local artists The Spanners and Lara Herscovitch and eco-themed entertainment, such as bicycle safety “road-eo,” says Pickett.
East Rock Park is located at 41 Cold Spring St.