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THE LONG WAY HOME: Stuyve Pell, a member of the Trinity Church of Princeton, is biking across the country during June to raise funds for Princeton Outreach Projects, Inc. Mr. Pell is pictured here in front of Trinity Church.
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Princeton Resident to Bike Ride Across Country for Local Cause

Candace Braun

Turning a furniture delivery into a bike ride across the country may seem like a strange idea, but for Stuyve Pell, its the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

Mr. Pell, 72, left in a moving van on Monday to see his daughter in Snohomish, Wash. On June 6, he will leave the west coast on his bike, with a goal of reaching Palmer Square in approximately six weeks.

Mr. Pell's plan to bike across the country first came about five years ago, when his oldest daughter, Alison, voiced an interest in a handcarved, four-poster bed set that had belonged to her when she lived with her parents in Princeton. A family heirloom, the bed was first given to Mr. Pell's grandmother by his grandfather.

Originally Mr. Pell's daughter had talked about flying out to New Jersey and driving the furniture back to Washington, where she now lives. However once talk of the trip began, some unfulfilled goals of Mr. Pell's childhood crept back into his consciousness. These included participating in a sculling race in England's Royal Henley Regatta, swimming the English Channel, and racing in the Tour de France.

But while these goals remained out of reach, there was still time to make one dream come true: biking across the United States. That's when Mr. Pell told his daughter he was going to drive the furniture out to Washington, and bike the whole way back to Princeton.

"Everybody has been very enthusiastic about this trip ... except my younger daughter [Sarah], " said Mr. Pell. "But in five minutes she agreed it was a pretty cool thing to do."

He said that his daughters agreed to let him make the trip as long as he took a cell phone with him, and a friend.

Finding a companion wasn't hard, as Mr. Pell's best friend, Don McSween, was so enthusiastic about the idea of biking across America, he volunteered to join him before he was asked.

"He's even more excited about [this bike trip] than I am," said Mr. Pell.

Ontario, Canada resident Mr. McSween is Mr. Pell's rowing coach, and has joined him on several trips around the world for rowing competitions.

A rower for over 50 years, Mr. Pell keeps in shape by sculling at Lake Carnegie on a regular basis. Mr. Pell was first a member of a crew team when he attended Princeton University, and now continues sculling by competing in the masters competition with other rowers internationally. Masters competitions are for rowers over the age of 27 years.

Funding A Cause

While the bike ride had originally been an adventure inspired by his old dream, once Mr. Pell began discussing the idea with friends, a new idea popped into his head. A volunteer, board member, and co-chair for the Trenton After School Program at various points over the last 14 years, Mr. Pell decided to turn his bike ride into a charity event for the organization.

Before leaving on his trip, Mr. Pell collected donations for Princeton Outreach Projects, Inc., an organization which provides financial support for the Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton, as well as the Trenton After School Program. Princeton Outreach is an entity shared by Nassau Presbyterian Church and Trinity Episcopal Church in Princeton, where Mr. Pell is an active member.

"If Don and I can raise awareness of and support for Crisis Ministry and TASP, both of us will know that what we're doing is a lot more than just traveling slowly across America," he said.

Community members have given, and continue to give, various donation amounts for the number of miles Mr. Pell will travel to reach his destination.

Mr. Pell and Mr. McSween will start their bike ride east of Seattle, in Spokane. They will then head east on the simplest route they are able to plot out, most likely through parts of Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Northern Ohio, and Dutch Country, Pa., said Mr. Pell. They intend to cross the Delaware River at Washington Crossing, Pa.

The bikers are aiming to accomplish approximately 80 miles per day, out of a journey of approximately 2,800 miles altogether. As Mr. Pell's longest bike journey in the past was approximately 100 miles, he said that making long side trips will not be part of their agenda. However if something of interest lies within 30 miles of their route, they will most likely veer slightly off course to visit the site, he said.

"We're planning our route more on good roads, rather than zig-zagging for monuments," Mr. Pell said.

Rather than pitch a tent or camp out in a sleeping bag under the stars, the bikers decided that stopping at motels along the way would be the easiest way to travel.

"More important than what you take is what you don't take," said Mr. Pell, relaying the advice of Mr. McSween. "A credit card is a lot lighter to carry than a tent."

Mr. Pell said that while the journey will be long and the road may be sunny and hot, knowing that his community back home is rooting for him will help him reach his goal.

Now retired, Mr. Pell has been a member of the Princeton community for many years. After receiving a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Princeton University, Mr. Pell worked for Chubb & Son, an insurance company. Based in New York City, and then Seattle, Wash., Mr. Pell moved back to Princeton in 1964.

The biker said he will be keeping in touch with Trinity Church while he is gone, through postcards, phone calls, and emails, whenever possible. When he is able to predict his return date, the church community will be notified so that they can join in the celebration of his return to Palmer Square.

"Several people will be there to see if we make it," said Mr. Pell.

To contribute a donation for Mr. Pell's bike ride, make checks out to: Trinity Church, 33 Mercer St., 08540. The words "bike ride" need to be written as a memo on the check.

To keep track of Mr. Pell's journey, visit www.trinityprinceton.org, or call (609) 924-2277.

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