RED BANK – It wasn’t the ideal weather Thursday morning for a 26-mile bike ride, but that didn’t matter to the more than 70 who come out in the rain for the Chief Memorial Bicycle Tour in honor of the late borough police chief, Stephen McCarthy, who died last fall.
“Of course, it’s a great cause,” said Milton Gray IV, a dispatcher with the Red Bank Police Department.
“As you can see, it’s a great turnout,” he said as he, like other riders prepared for the ride in a steady downpour. Gray had just come off a 12-hour shift at 7 p.m., and would go back to work at 7 p.m. But, he said, he wanted to participate. “It’s important that we remember.”
Starting at 9 a.m., he was joined by about 70 cyclists from numerous police departments, law enforcement agencies around Monmouth County and residents who planned to ride from Red Bank to Brielle.
Sponsored by the Red Bank Police Benevolent Association (PBA) 39, the tour is intended not only to honor the memory of McCarthy but as a fundraiser, with the associations selling T-shirts for $35 apiece for the Chief Stephen McCarthy Children’s Education Fund, said patrolman George Travostino, PBA president.
“It just means so much,” McCarthy’s widow, Maryellen McCarthy, said as she watch the riders begin the tour.
The cyclists traveled two-by-two, beginning at police headquarters at 90 Monmouth St. and were escorted by a armada of police vehicles.
“It’s been seven months” since the chief’s passing, McCarthy said, “and they still remember him.
“It’s hard to put it into words what it means. It’s very emotional,” she said.
Following a brief ceremony, the bikers took off and planned to ride east on Monmouth Street, south on Broad Street and then east on Harding Road/Ridge Road to Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright where they would travel south, connecting with Route 71 in Spring Lake and then onto Brielle, Red Bank Police investigator Jorge Torres said.
The riders planned to maintain a nine-12 mile-an-hour pace, he said.
A number of the riders were expected to participate in this year’s four-day Police Unity Tour, scheduled to begin Friday. That tour will take cyclists from police department the country and overseas on a ride to Washington, D.C., in honor of officers slain in the line of duty.
McCarthy, 50, was a 27-year department veteran. He died in September after a lengthy battle with cancer. He had been sworn in as chief of the 40-officer department in January 2010.