At 71, bike rider hits the road for a cause

At 71, bike rider hits the road for a cause

About 300 cyclists gather outside the Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park to begin the 175-mile Bike4Chai ride to Camp Simcha. 
About 300 cyclists gather outside the Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park to begin the 175-mile Bike4Chai ride to Camp Simcha. 

For Mickey Abraham it was the best of all possible worlds, bringing together his love of bicycling, a chance to bond with family, and an opportunity to raise money for a good cause.

The 71-year-old Deal resident was the oldest among a group of 300 cyclists from around the world who gathered in Asbury Park July 31 to set off on their 175-mile, two-day ride to benefit Chai Lifeline, an international organization helping seriously ill children.

The ride’s final destination was the organization’s Camp Simcha in Glen Spey, NY.

The ride, which raised $2.8 million last year, has already brought in $2.725 million as of Aug. 5, with money still being donated. Abraham himself has raised about $60,000 of that total.

“It’s a fantastic ride; everyone gets along really well, and the ride is handled very effectively,” said Abraham in a phone conversation with NJJN Aug. 2. “They take care of all your needs — food, hotels, and mechanics to fix the bikes along the way. If someone is too exhausted or has to stop for another reason, they will pick you up and take you to the next stop.”

The fourth annual Bike4Chai began in the bright sunshine outside the shore town’s Berkeley Hotel with stops in various locations on its way to the camp.

Cutting the ribbon to send the cyclists on their way was honorary ride captain Samara Sheller, a seven-year-old from Chesterfield in Burlington County, who lost her leg to cancer and is attending Camp Simcha for the first time.

Abraham, who spends most of the year in Deal and the rest in Brooklyn, most recently rode in the Five Boro Bike Tour through New York City with his son-in-law. Another family member, 22-year-old grandson Morris Kishk of Brooklyn, joined him in the Bike4Chai ride.

Abraham said he began doing the rides “because I wanted to encourage my children and grandchildren to exercise and ride bikes.”

Biking has become a favorite pastime of the Abraham family, which includes Helen, his wife of 46 years, five children, and 28 grandchildren.

In addition to the family bonding, he said, “you are doing it for a great cause as well as getting exercise, which is so important.” He said he had been an avid bike rider a long time ago and got back into it last year, now training 30-60 miles a week.

When not biking or fishing, Abraham can be found at his Edison-based company, Wanted Shoes, which imports footwear from China, or at the Synagogue of Deal, where he studies religious texts daily.

Although he pedaled the entire ride last year, heavy rains greeted riders when they woke up in Suffern, NY, on Aug. 1. Abraham decided to forgo that leg of the trip.

“I opted out because it was too dangerous in all that rain,” he said.

But, remembering his experience from last year, he pointed out that the best part of the ride happens at the end. “Once you have the experience of riding into camp and seeing how excited the children get and how appreciative they are that we are doing this for them — you really get a rush. It’s very exciting!”

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