Local police departments – including Martinez, El Cerrito and Hercules – are inviting anyone who rides a bicycle to join in the "Bike the Briges" benefit ride this Sunday for the Special Olympics.
Those who sign up can chose the shorter 25-mile course or the longer option of 50+ miles. Neither is a competitive ride. Participants are encouraged to pause and enjoy the amazing views along the route, which includes two bridges – the Caquinez and Benicia.
There will be support personnel and refueling stations along the way, and a "sag" vehicle driving the routes to assist and encourage participants.
Those who participate are asked to pay a $45 fee if pre-registering and $50 on the day of the ride. Lunch hosted by Outback Steakhouse and a beer garden are included in the 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. festivities at the Martinez Waterfront Park. More information about pre-registration and the day's activities can be found on the event Web site.
Though the event begins and ends in Martinez, El Cerrito's bike-friendly police department plays one of the central roles. The fundraiser – a spin-off of the Law Enforcement Torch Run to support Special Olympics – was started in 2010 by El Cerrito police bicycle trainer Sgt. Shawn Maples and Lt. Steve Bonini, along with Hercules Officer Ian Baisas.
The funds that are raised benefit the Special Olympics Northern California, described by event organizers as "a free year-round sports training and competition program for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More than 15,700 athletes compete in 154 competitions throughout the region in 12 sports. This requires the extraordinary support and time of 14,370 volunteers and volunteer coaches."
The first Bike the Bridges event in 2010 drew more than 400 riders and raised more than $62,000. Last year's event saw 526 riders and raised about $70,000.