Tour de Force – Day 4

Let me start by saying that riding with and doing support for so many fantastic people for the last 16 years has been a blessing. At the banquet, the previous night, I was honored as the founder of the ride. I was given a plaque and a mtb wheel with a plaque on the inset, expertly fabricated by Eric Swanson of Adventure Cycling in Aurora, CO. I accept these, knowing that Mike and Mike have carried me for many years.

IMG_0512With that said, let’s get to the ride. We started from the Sheraton in Melville, NY and rode down Rt. 25 through urban Nassau County for 22 miles to the Floral Park Municipal Field, where lunch was served (The Nassau County Police Department expertly blocked all intersections to Floral Park). Seems like a short distance for lunch, but the rest of he day’s events were going to be slow as we were escorted as a group to the finish.

IMG_0507From Floral Park, the NYPD took over the escort and wow, were we treated like dignitaries. Eight motorcycles blocked every intersection, through Queens, over the 59th Street Bridge and into Manhattan. Then the challenging part came when the streets of lower Manhattan, so congested at 1:30pm on a Tuesday, were turned into the Tour de Force Expressway. Motorcycles roared, helicopters soared and every rider and support team member, were cheered on by the thousands watching and  patiently waiting to go about their day.

IMG_0524We paused briefly in front of the still boarded and fenced Ground Zero for a moment of silence. The Freedom Tower, although not a replacement for the Twin Towers, looked glorious in the September sky.

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Arriving at Wagner Park, in Battery Park, we were treated to numerous Mounted Poilce Officers, guarding the mezzanine aboard their loyal steeds.

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In the Hudson, just behind the park were the NYPD Harbour Patrol boats as Police helicopters hovered overhead. A welcome home for some,  a hero’s send off for others. You see, many of our riders and support team come from all over the country.

IMG_0525These were and are an amazing 4 days of cycling. We cannot forget the victims of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey. You are all in our prayers. We cannot wait until next year when we welcome back all our riders that had to back out because of the recent storms. Your presence was sorely missed.

I leave you with some more photos of this incredible 4 day journey.

 

 

Tour de Force – Day 3

The day started with a ferry ride from New London, Ct to Orient Point, NY. After unloading bikes and some last minute prep, riders pedaled through the amazing Long Island wine country, with a first rest stop at the Greenport Harbour Brewing Company and although not recommended, I’m sure more than a few riders indulged.

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With about 65 miles left, the ride winded down Rt. 25 through some of the most beautiful fishing towns on the island. Lunch was served at Fink’s Farm in Calverton, NY by John Carro and owners, Dave and Michelle. who served up hero’s reminiscent of John’s former deli, the Steer Seller.

Every day’s ride on the Tour de Force ends with a story. Each rider finishes day 3 with a medal and the memories of a ride with friends and family that will last a lifetime. Two survivors, Mimi and Mikayla, were at the finish line, handing out medals.  At our banquet that night, we honored them, and recognized their truly beautiful efforts to pay it forward.

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You see, nine years ago, we made a donation to Mimi to honor her husband, Perth Amboy, NJ Police Officer Thomas Raji, who was killed in the line of duty. She was pregnant with Mikayla. A few months ago, while eating in a restaurant, Mikayla noticed a Police Officer eating alone. She struck up a conversation with him and asked her mom to pay for his dinner. Mimi did just that and asked the owner not to tell him. The Officer found out that Mimi and Mikayla paid for his dinner. He arranged for MiKayla to throw out the 1st pitch at a NY Yankee game. Seeing this, we knew that Mikayla had to be honored in front of our riders. Speaking with Mimi, she explained that we were the first organization to come to her aid and she purchased her husbands headstone with funds from our donation. This is truly a family that suffered a tradgedy, received a few random acts of kindness and paid it forward.

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Mikayla with her best friend Sydney

 

We had two more special guests. You can read about their amazing story on Facebook at the Tour de Force 911 Memorial Bike Ride page.

Some more photos from an incredible day of cycling:

 

 

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