By Lexi Oliver, Amanda Callahan
SPRINGFIELD, Massachussetts (WSHM) — Springfield’s ninth annual Ride to Remember taking place Saturday from start to finish in Springfield. The bicycle tour honors fallen police officers and firefighters.
Riders met at the intersection of Main Street and Boland Way in downtown Springfield this morning and pedaled to Worcester and back for a total of more than 100 miles.
Escorted by police officers, bikers celebrating at the finish line of Springfield’s ninth annual Ride to Remember.
“I was dead last the whole way, but it went very well,” rider Jeffrey Tomaino said.
The bicycle tour traditionally goes from Springfield to Boston, but this year riders pedaled to Worcester and back dedicating the event to six Worcester firefighters who died in the line of duty battling the Worcester cold storage fire, as well as fallen Officer Manny Familia, who died this past June while trying to save a drowning teenager.
“It’s very important to me personally that we honor our fallen so, you let the families know that they didn’t die in vain and they are never going to be forgotten,” Ride to Remember Co-Chair Todd Mongeon said.
Seven and a half hours and 116 miles later, riders returning to Springfield after a long day.
“Probably not going to move for a couple of days, but it feels really good,” Mongeon said.
Some riders said it was an honor for them to participate.
“I actually work for the city of Worcester, but I work in Agawam as a special on the Agawam so, it was a big meaning for me to ride in the ride,” Tomaino said.
Emotions were high as bikers arrived in Worcester, holding a ceremony to honor the fallen heroes.
Some like, Matthew Bys, have been participating in the race for many years.
“The ride went great, everything went smooth, we held together as a pack,” Bys said.
But for others, it was their very first time biking such a far distance.
“It’s taught me a lot about my own limitations, mind, and body. But really it taught me that it’s just a mind game, and if you push past your inhibitions, your fears, your doubts, your anxieties, and your stresses, you can really accomplish anything, and there’s nothing that’s not accomplishable,” Bhatnagar said.
He said he really admired the comradery of the ride.
“All the riders were supporting each other, the marshals were helping each other pushing them along and it came to the point that if any of us were having a hard time going up a hill, they would just put their hand on our back and give us a gentle nudge to go all the way to the top and the whole idea was to finish together. and we started together, we ended this race together, and isn’t this what we do in life?” Bhatnagar said.
This year’s race raised about $75,000 for various first responder charities.
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