July 11, 2002
Fairfax County Police officer Lt. Jim Redfield looked down in the pit, six-stories deep, where the World Trade Center once stood, while he was in New York City ironing out some of the logistics for the upcoming "Ride To Remember," which he and several police bike team members are taking Sept. 8-11.
Redfield had been up to the site in New York since the Sept. 11 attacks, but this time the surrounding trailers were gone, and there was nothing but a fence standing between him and the devastation.
"You can walk past it now and look down in the hole. The solemness of the neighborhood is still there. People don't talk, they just walk through and look," he said.
Some of the logistics he was working out included route information and hotel bookings, coordinated with the ride, which will consist of up to 200 officers. It will start at the World Trade Center site on the morning of Sept. 8 and head south, arriving at the Pentagon on the 11th, just after the dedication ceremony. Invitations went out to the Arlington Police Department, Fairfax Sheriff's Office, Montgomery County Police and Prince George’s Police.
"This is going to be a one-time event. We wanted to specifically invite officers from jurisdictions surrounding the Pentagon," Redfield said.
Besides honoring the victims and the effort of the firefighters and police involved, the officers on the ride are raising money for Inova Regional Trauma Center. Each officer is responsible for raising at least $500.
This ride takes the place of the annual Mountain Bike Race around Lake Accotink they've done in years past. Last year's race raised money for the Inova Head Trauma Unit. Inova Fairfax was involved with the attack on the Pentagon and the anthrax poisonings. Inova Fairfax also has riders from the hospital going along, according to public relations representative Courtney Prebich.
"We have 50 Inova employees that are riding. They're doing sponsors, and we're raising money internally for our riders," she said.
BATTERY PARK, which is a couple of blocks from the Trade Center site, is where the officers will gather. Arrangements had to be made with the groups in charge of the park. Then some routes in the city had to be mapped out as well.
"We would go right over the Brooklyn Bridge. We've been picking up ideas all along. Every time we go up to New York City, the red carpet is thrown out for us," Redfield said.
The riders hope to cover about 60 miles a day, which is several times the distance they travel in one day on a typical bike-team patrol.
"It could average anywhere between 15-20 miles," Franconia bike officer Lon Wolber said of their local patrols.
With that difference in travel distances, some training is required beforehand, according to Redfield.
"We have to practice and do some training rides, you have to get used to pedaling six hours," he said.
The bikes will be modified as well. Currently, the tires are off-road "knobbies," which will be swapped with road tires for a smoother ride. After the ride, they will be switched back because of the off-road terrain they encounter on a daily basis.
Several local organizations have already committed some resources to the event. Fresh Fields/Whole Foods is donating $10,000 in fruit and protein bars for the trip, and D.C. United is donating money.
"D.C. United is on board. They're going to give us proceeds from their ticket sales," Redfield said.
Jenna Van Hook is the community representative at the Fresh Fields store in West Springfield. They frequently contribute to neighborhood events and like this one because it focuses on health as well, which is one of the grocery store’s concentrations.
"There's that whole health and fitness component. It fit our criteria on many levels," Van Hook said.
She might take part in the ride as well, setting up stations along the way if possible.
EACH DISTRICT station has a bike team. The Franconia team has been tasked with parades and special events, such as the fireworks at Lee District Park on July Fourth. Geography and demographics play into the role of the team.
"Each station uses their team differently," Redfield said.
A 40-hour training class is put on by the officers to qualify for the team.
"It's a competitive process to get on the bike team. They have to complete a 40-hour bike class that we came up with," Redfield said.
Bike officer Phil Edwards noted the other jurisdictions that took their class. "We had military, Herndon and the City of Fairfax in our bike school," he said.
Fairfax County officer Pete Massaro has been on the team for 2 1/2 years. He looked at the advantage of being out there in the community.
"You're more accessible to the public, more approachable," he said.
Redfield's been contacted by other officers around the country.
"A friend of mine in Miami told me almost exclusively in South Beach, officers patrol on bikes. You're going to see us more and more in Kingstowne. We notice young people, women jogging. Who knows who could be lurking in the off-road areas," Redfield said.
Patrolling around Lake Accotink is also a part of the Franconia team’s schedule.
"No one else goes back there but us," he said.