Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 1
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
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Princeton’s Free Wheeling Bicyclists Honor Ride Leader, Gear Up for Year’s Events

Dilshanie Perera

Board members of the Princeton Free Wheelers cycling club met on Monday night in Borough Hall to discuss the club’s yearly events. They brainstormed sponsorship ideas; reviewed the annual club events; discussed ways in which to promote helmet wearing and bike safety; decided that members should vote for their favorite cycling rest stop, or bike-friendly establishment; and exchanged ideas about a keynote speaker for the monthly membership meeting in March.

Former Free Wheelers President and ride leader Norman Roy Bathos, who died in 2008, regularly led 120 rides per year. The board agreed to name the club prize awarded to the cyclist who leads the most rides in honor of Mr. Bathos.

The not-for-profit cycling club was founded in 1980 by Dick Bograd and Barbara Hunt, with its first meetings held at the Unitarian Church in Princeton. The membership has grown from five riders at the club’s inception to over 800 members today.

Ride leader and board member Michael Heffler said that the club hosts rides almost every day of the year, though the busiest months are from April to October. Members hail from Princeton and the surrounding region, and rides typically last around two hours. Underscoring that the Free Wheelers welcome riders of different abilities, Mr. Heffler said, “Some ride for speed, some ride for beauty, some ride for health, and some ride to socialize,” with other board members acknowledging that it is often a combination of those reasons that gets them out onto the open road.

The bike rides are organized by the club and led by members who have determined a route ahead of time. Board secretary Patricia Van Hise noted that the Princeton area is very popular for rides, owing to the good road conditions and scenery. Ms. Van Hise characterized the camaraderie of the cyclists as what makes the experience delightful. “I know a woman who lives in Hillsborough and drives 40 minutes to Yardville, just because it’s much more fun to ride with other people,” she said.

More information on the Princeton Free Wheelers can be found at

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