Love to cycle around Long Island? Want to help out a terrific charity at the same time? Then join the third annual “Bike to the Beach” 100-mile ride and autism fundraiser on Friday that kicks off in Manhattan at 5 a.m. and ends with a party in Westhampton Beach at the , with eight pit stops along the South Shore of Long Island.
The event was launched in 2010, with 25 riders participating and is modeled after a similar bike charity event that has been held since 2007 in Washington, D.C. Last year there were 65 riders and $70,000 was raised.
This year organizers hope to once again double the cyclist involvement and raise even more money in the process. As of this weekend the sign-up list has 56 riders. Pledge donations, by individual and bike teams, range from $20 to $3,860.
Ride highlights include starting off at the scenic Irish Hunger Memorial on the Southern tip of Manhattan, cycling in the quiet pre-dawn hours over the Williamsburg bridge, watching the sunrise over the Atlantic and crossing the finish line at the Dune Deck in Westhampton Beach where a crisp dip in the ocean and great post-ride festivities await at the restaurant’s Salt Water Grill. Patch staff will also be on hand to greet the riders.
“Bike to the Beach is an opportunity to do something different, have fun and make a difference at the same time,” said Keegan Vance Forte, a director of the New York-based ride effort.
The pit stops include Jacob Riis Park in Queens, World Gym in Wantagh, the in West Islip and in Blue Point.
Participants in Bike to the Beach can bike, volunteer at pit stops or collect donations. Each biker is asked to raise a minimum of $500 and many have raised an average of more than $1,000 in the past rides.
Funds raised benefit Autism Speaks, which helps educate and raise awareness about autism. The program was founded seven years ago by a couple whose grandchild was diagnosed with autism. It has become the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
Volunteers are needed for a variety of jobs, such as photographers, ride supports, and drivers to help with bike or rider emergency situations. Those who don’t own a bike can easily participate by renting a bike for the trip out east.
“We would love to see 300 riders participating, just like the ride in D.C.,” said event director Frank Wilson.
The ride time fluctuates depending on a biker’s experience, weather and speed. It can run from five and a half hours to nine hours. Most riders travel at an average speed between 13 and 25 miles per hour, Wilson said.