PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A 65-mile bike ride from Philadelphia to the Jersey Shore may sound grueling, but people do it every year in the Delaware Valley.
The Ben to The Shore Bike Tour starts at the Ben Franklin Bridge. Participants then pedal to the casinos in Atlantic City, with several rest stops along the way.
Money raised benefits local families of fallen first responders, who also typically take part in the ride itself.
"It's a wonderful day for them because they all say that their family member is being remembered and how important that is and how much it means to them that they will never be forgotten," said Mark O'Connor, co-founder of the Families Behind the Badge Children’s Foundation.
In 2020, the Ben To the Shore was held virtually because of the pandemic. People can still take part virtually during this year's event on Sunday, August 29 if that makes them feel more comfortable.
"Our moniker (last year) was 'What's your 65?' So we encourage people to go out and either ride their bikes 65 miles or walk 65 miles," explained O'Connor. "Or as one of our board members who happens to be a police officer in New Jersey said, eat 65 donuts is what he was going to do."
You have two weeks to do your "65" virtually. Or if you're ready to ride in person again with others, O'Connor promised it's health and safety first.
"We're changing a lot of things," he said. "To start, it'll be a lot different, normally it's just a mass of people at the base of the Ben Franklin Bridge, we're going to space that out a couple of blocks and use corrals to move people through. The rest stops will have to be very different and we're working on all the logistics for that."
There's a giant party at the end, which this year is at the Showboat in Atlantic City. That allows them to keep everyone spread out.
"Oh, absolutely," was O'Connor's response when KYW Newsradio asked him if this year will be extra-special based on everything first responders have been through during the pandemic.
As a reminder, O'Connor said you don't have to be a "serious rider" to get involved.
"It's a ride, not a race," he elaborated. "You don't have to be in super shape to do it. If you have a bike in decent working condition, you do a little bit of training."
This will be the event's 34th year. In recent years, the ride has raised upwards of $1 million. That's O'Connor's goal this year. During last year's virtual event $500,000 was raised with ridership also cut in half.
If in-person riders don't want to do the full 65 miles, they can also start in Berlin, New Jersey and ride 50 miles instead.
Signup details and more information are available here.