Tour de Force – Day 4

The final day of the TDF is always bittersweet. I’m happy to get home and get back to my daily routine, but I’m also sad that it will be another year before I get to see all the awesome people that I have the privelage to be associated with for the last 15 years.

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We started with a transport over to Liberty State Park in Jersey City. After a few wrenches were turned and photos were snapped, we were led out by a multitude of New Jersey Police agencies with a fantastic escort through Jersey City, Hoboken, Fort Lee and all the wonderful cities and towns along the Jersey side of the Hudson River. What came next was unusual. The Port Authority Police Department along with the Fort Lee Police Department and the NYPD, shut down the George Washington Bridge to escort us into the greatest city on the world.

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The riders were given the entire right lane of the bridge. Most charity tours are relegated to the bike path along side the bridge. We snaked into Manhattan and eventually onto Riverside Drive for a cool ride above the river and down the west side. We hit the Henry Hudson Parkway and again had a lane shut down for us. For 15 years, we have been treated well by our own department, but never to this extent.

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Dropping down to 12th Avenue, we were given free passage all the way to the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial. After a moment of silence to remember all victims of that horrible day, we pedaled over to Battery Park, where we were treated to a ceremony, honoring our efforts. 14322434_773391086155118_6003259236222251780_n

As the TDF came to a close, we said our goodbyes and expressed our hope to see everyone next year. Our year end meeting is in October, where we will vote on how all monies raised will be donated. We will also finalize our route for next year and immediately start planning for the 2017 event. You can check out what we do and how we do it by dropping by our web page at http://www.tourdeforceny.com. I leave you with yet, a few more photos:

 

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Tour de Force – Day 3

This may have been the best weather we have ever had for the Tour de Force. Low 80’s and absolutely no wind. The road was flat as can be for most of the way. Really, things could not have gone better today.

Normally, I would take this 1 day that I ride to hammer as hard as I can and finish as fast as possible. But, today, I decided to ride with my pal and ex-partner, Mike and his son Sean. Mike is a unique rider. He is the only person to have ridden every mile of every year for the first 15 years of the Tour de Force.

We pedaled out of Island Beach State Park in Tom’s River, NJ and rode along the coast for the first 35 miles. When we reached Belmar, we rode up on the Boardwalk for a few hundered feet. From mile 38 to mile 49, the route took us onto the Atlantic Highlands Rail Trail. A scenic fitness path, it kept the riders off the busy Jersey Shore streets.

A few miles after coming off the trail, we were treated to a series of hills, that to be honest were just about the only inclines on the route. At the top of one of the hills, a 9/11 memorial sat in a garden, overlooking Sandy Hook and the Atlantic Highlands.

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We cruised along the rest of the course together and enjoyed the sea air, all thanks to the incredible effort of our support team. The sag support and rest stops are second to none. These volunteers, are what make this well oiled machine run so smoothly. The local Police Departments took care of the busy intersections, allowing our riders to pass through saftely.

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Pulling into the beach in Old Bridge, NJ, where the riders grouped up to be escorted over the Liberty Bridge, I was happy to have had the opportunity to ride today. I jumped into a car and headed to the hotel in Woodbridge, our finish line for the day, to get ready to greet the riders with medals to commerate their amazing efforts. Now, I leave you with a few more pics of this amazing day:

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Tour de Force – Day 2

What a beautiful day. Low 80’s and sunny with just a little wind. The day started with a ferry ride from Lewes, Delaware to Cape May, NJ. Getting everyone on the ferry was a challenge with all the support vehicles, but the ferry crew was more than up to the task. The Cape May Ferry is always a nice trip. It gives everyone a chance to talk. Night time is filled with food, spirits and tired bodies. So, a little diversion in the morning, never hurts.

The ride was short, only 54 miles. Out to Rt. 9 with a tour of historic Cape May.  The riders pedaled through the fantastic sea air for the better part of 3-4 hours, ending in a parking lot near the Tropicanana Hotel and Casino, in Atlantic City, NJ.

Days 1 and 4, riders wear the current year’s jersey. Day’s 2 ans 3, custom jerseys from hometowns and various teams the have been created for the ride, rule the day.

A short day callls for a short post. Here are a few photos from today:

 

 

Tour de Force – Day 1

Well, day 1 is upon us. This is the day that first time riders, will find out if they trained hard enough, prepared properly and packed everything they will need for this 4 day event. Each rider, raises a minimum amount to gain entry into the ride. Even the support staff have to meet a fundraising goal. Riders and support staff, come from all corners of the country.

In 2002, our original starting point was the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and we rode to the World Trade Center in New York City. We have done that ride as well as the reverse route several times. We have also ridden from New York to Boston (Yankee Stadium to Fenway Park) and Boston to New York. This year we decided to start at RFK Stadium in Washington and ride to the NYC Police Memorial, around the corner from the World Trade Center. img_3817

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The Metropolitan Police Department escorted the ride out from RFK to the Capitol and around the District and handed us off to the Pince Georges County Police as we crossed the Maryland line. I drive a support vehicle for 3 out of 4 days, as the logistics of the tour have not allowed myself or my colleagues the opportunity to ride the entire way for several years now. I plan to ride day 3 as that appears to be the lightest traffic day with little to no problems all the way to the finish.

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Once we hit the first rest stop at mile 22, we led the riders out 8 more miles and released them at their own pace. Immediately, the pack went from a long sea of blue to a spread out group with each rider finding his or her cadence. We keep cars with the front of the pack as well as a sweep vehicle to trail the last rider. Several support vehicles, buses and trucks are along the route to lend support to riders in need. Mechanics ride back and forth along the route to assist with any issues (mostly tube punctures).

Mile 40 at the Maryland Transportation Authority was the lunch stop. (The tour provides breakfast and lunch each day as well as 4 nights lodging in superior hotels and a banquet on the 3rd night). After crossing the Bay Bridge, riders head over to Rt. 404 to complete the last 60 miles to Rehoboth Beach, our destination for day 1.

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Rt. 404 is a long, flat section of road that winds through corn fields in rural Maryland and Delaware. Farms stands are everywhere, offering local fruit and vegetables, giving us the freshest supplies for our remaining rest stops. When the last rider reached the hotel, the party began. The entire parking lot is lined with TDF trailers, with just the right amount of beverages to rehydrate our weary riders.

A few more pics from today:

 

 

Tour de Force – Registration

In a prior post, I mentioned a ride called the Tour de Force. This is a 4 day ride from Washington, DC to NYC on or about September 11th. All money raised is donated directly to the families of Police Officers killed in the line of duty. I, along with my brother Mike and my partner Mike founded the tour in 2002. Tomorrow, we will embark on our 15th annual version of this incredibly fullfilling journey.

In 2001, I was a NYC Police Detective, assigned to the Bronx Robbery Squad. Immediatly after the first plane hit the World Trade Center, we were mobilized. My squad commandeered a city bus, cleaned out a Bronx supermarket and we rushed to the scene. I won’t even try to explain the horror that was Ground Zero. We were there for the better part of 2 weeks. In 20+ years in the NYPD, I learned a lot about people. But nothing could have prepared me for how this cowardly act could have such a profound affect on my life and how this amazing country that I have the privelage to live in, would change forever.

Anyway, last night, I arrived here in Falls Church, Virginia to prepare for today’s registration process. At 3pm, the buses from New York are scheduled to arrive at the hotel, carrying the bulk of our 300 riders. Tomorrow we start our first leg of the tour with a 107 mile ride. But, today, I was able to get out at 9am for a 30 mile pedal around the W&OD Trail, a paved rail trail the runs through Washington and the surrounding suburbs.

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A couple miles in, I got turned around as the trail ended and went into downtown Falls Church before picking back up again a few blocks away. A woman named Jennifer, who runs a trade association in the Washington, DC area, was kind enough to show me a loop that went around Reagan National Airport, through Arlington, Virginia and back around to Falls Church.

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The W&OD is an urban rail trail for sure. However, it runs along the Potomac River in spots and encompasses just enough local park land with beautiful wooden bridges to give it a lively feel. After about 30 miles, I veered off the trail a headed back to the hotel, ready to tackle the day’s events.

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Tomorrrow, I’ll have some great photos of the start and I’ll provide some more details about the Tour de Force.

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VBC Century Ride

This past weekend, Mike H, Steve and I, traveled up to Plattsburgh, NY to do a Century ride through the Adirondacks. A ride that is near and dear to my heart. This ride is put on by the Adirondack Garda. All proceeds are donated to the Tour de Force, a charity ride that raises money for the families of Police Officers killed in the line of duty, nationwide. I’ll detail the Tour de Force in a later post.

This is the 3rd annual Valcour Brewing Company Century Ride. It was previously called the Dry Dock 100. I rode in the 2014 event and I was extremely excited to be able to have a chance to be a part of it again. The inaugural ride was a 103 miles. A figure eight that started in Plattsburgh, came back into town at mile 50 for a fantastic lunch stop and looped out and back for another beautiful 50+ miles.

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The 2016 event featured 4 rides. 25, 50, 78 and 103 miles through the beautiful Adirondack Park and alongside Lake Champlain. Each ride featured perfect roads, absolutely stunning scenery, a quality lunch stop, well stocked rest areas and 2 awesome post ride parties. All riders, received an Adirondack Garda t-shirt, Valcour Brewing Company/VBC Century pint glass and some first rate swag. The gun went off at 8:30am for the 50/78/103 mile rides. The 25 miler, was an out and back, that started after lunch.

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For the 103 miler, it was a tale of two different types of weather. First, the rest stops were at miles 25, 50, 75 and 94. For the first 25 miles, there was a strong head wind. You sort of forgot about the wind as you came to the top of a hill and were hit with an incredible mountain top view. As you made the turn and looped back into Plattsburgh from the 1st rest stop to lunch, the wind changed directions and the road grade cooperated. That might have been the fastest 25 miles I have ever ridden.

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We were treated to a nice lunch on Lake Champlain. Darcy, Ann and a bunch of other volunteers, really did a wonderful job. From the sign in to the aid stations(which were top notch), everything was done to make sure the riders slipped through the course with ease. The Plattsburgh Police Department and the New York State Police did a fantastic job with the lead out and traffic control at the intersections.

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After lunch, about a mile in, you hit the only big hill on the course. It twists and turns as you climb for approximately 1.5 miles. You drop back down into farmland and fight the wind for another 20 or so miles. Along the way, we passed over 100 cyclist from Canada that were pedaling through one of the best cycling regions in the country. At mile 75 we rolled into the 3rd rest stop just off the border of Quebec on Lake Shore Drive. Across the lake, you could see Vermont. The wind turned to our backs again as we made our way into Plattsburgh along the lake.

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The last 2 miles are on a bike path, along Lake Champlain, that leads you right into the VBC parking lot and through the finishing chute. We were greeted with cheers and directed upstairs for the post ride party. Valcour had several different beers to choose from in a saloon that overlooked the lake. Down the hall, the Adirondack Garda provided a delicious recovery feast. We went back to our rooms to shower up and headed over to an undisclosed location for  a pool party, complete with margarita machine, beer, BBQ, hot tub and great people to sit around with, relax and reminisce about a great day.

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The following day, Bob and Bruce took any willing riders on a 50+ mile recovery ride up through the Lake Placid area, with a ferry ride across the lake to Vermont for lunch. We were sorry to miss this excursion as we opted to head home in the morning, but heard it was a good time!  Just a few more pics of this fantastic event: