This weekend, you can join these brave men and women at Cycling For Fallen Heroes.
“We always say, NEVER FORGET,” says Brotherhood Ride founder Jeff Morse, “but time moves on and people do forget about that day. Rest assured we will remind them that there are families and co-workers who still have a hole in their heart that will never be filled.”
The Brotherhood Ride is a team made up of firefighters, police and EMS personnel who ride bicycles to honor men and women who have died in the line of duty. They ride on or near the anniversary of the deaths of theses fallen heroes to show the families, friends and coworkers that their loved ones will never be forgotten.
The brothers ride with compassion. They train with dedication. And the emotions from day-to-day on the ride are indescribable…but what is a day in the life of a brotherhood rider like?
One of the riders described the Brotherhood ride as, “A moving firehouse.” The day starts promptly with a 6 a.m. wakeup call and with a daily song to motivate and encourage the riders. Songs have ranged from “On the Road Again” to the “Fire truck Song” and all tunes in between. To this day, Firefighter Jack Bills says he still has the “Fire Truck Song” in his head. (Convenient for a firefighter, really.)
The music brings up a lot of emotions. It’s often the first of a lot of emotions felt throughout the course of each day, but laughter and sarcasm towards fellow riders is always a must.
Breakfast is supplied by the local Elk’s Lodge, which also provides overnight shelter for riders. “The Elks are just as much of heroes as those that serve in the Brotherhood,” Morse says. “We couldn’t do this without their help.”
Wheels hit the road at 8 a.m., rain or shine. There is a brief daily dedication ceremony, as each day is dedicated to someone that lost their lives serving their community. In addition, each of the riders has the name or names of those that were lost written across their backs. When the rider behind them is reaching that point of exhaustion where every pedal stroke seems hard, all they have to do to remember why they’re suffering is look up.
On the road, riders talk, laugh and joke with each other. Most importantly; they get to know each other.
But it’s not all fun. The average day’s ride is about 100 miles, and weather changes throughout the day, with temps climbing or dropping and rain and humidity dampening spirits. There are injuries but nothing too serious—falls, scrapes, pulled muscles. “Everyone watches out for each other,” Morse says. “And if they fall… they must wear the pink shorts.”
One lucky rider gets to wear bright fuchsia bike shorts so everyone knows who last hit the pavement. When asked how often those pink shorts are washed, Morse couldn’t say—a definite motivator to keep the rubber side down.
The rides last several days, although one year the ride stretched all the way from Florida to Ground Zero in New York City. The original ride had 20 riders; today there are over 70. At the end, as riders near their destination, they switch from their bike helmets to their respective uniform helmets to show the community that they have come from all over the country to honor those heroes that have fallen in the line of duty. The “Ride-In,” as it’s called, has two parts. First, Brotherhood Riders ride to the scene where the heroes fell. While the day of riding was filled with laughter, jokes and personal stories, once the brotherhood arrives at the memorial there are no more words. Silent tears take over and the emotions come to a head.
“The riders are not the heroes,” one rider said. “We wear the names of the true heroes”.
The riders then head to a location where the family and friends of the fallen have gathered. Jeff explains to those gathered the reasons why they ride; how far they have come and for whom. More tears fall. This time it’s the tears of appreciation and gratitude from the friends and family’s of the fallen.
Fundraising is key for the Brotherhood ride. Not only does the ride need funds to happen, but the riders donate money to help the family’s of the fallen get back on their feet. The Brotherhood relies on donations from the community and sponsors,such as JetBlue and Hertz- for travel support. Trek Bicycles provides course support and three bike rentals in case of need.
But beyond the event, and the fundraising, and the timeline – this is a coming together of brothers from all departments, big or small: volunteers, triathletes, non-riders, co-workers, family. All have been impacted by the loss of one of the fallen, and all riding for one purpose- To Never Forget.
You Can Support The Brotherhood Ride Too!
On February 8th, Cycling For Fallen Heros will take place locally, and riders can opt for a 10, 28, 42, or 62 mile ride led by the Brotherhood Ride Team.
Riders will enjoy a power breakfast, ladder truck arch, bagpipe ceremony and a moment of silence before the ride and then a buffet following the ride. There will be raffles, silent auctions and the first 200 riders to register are guaranteed t-shirts- but there is more to a this ride than the goodies.
To sign up for the ride, click here and to register online visit this site. Volunteers are also needed. If interested, please contact Candy Morse at (239) 872-1551 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Other donations can easily be made online here.