Over 160 cyclists taking part in the 22nd Canadian Police Memorial Ride to Remember rode through Northumberland County on Thursday, September 22, 2022.
The ride started in Toronto and will end when it reaches the National Police and Peace Officers’ National Memorial in Ottawa on Saturday.
Support vehicles rode ahead of the riders to set-up for breaks along the way including Port Hope and Colborne on Thursday.
The Ride to Remember began as a way to honour police and peace officer’s who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their community and to ensure the magnitude of their sacrifice is never forgotten. On September 24, 1998, the Government of Canada officially proclaimed the last Sunday of September of every year as the Police and Peace Officers’ National Memorial Day.
Due to COVID, its been the first time the ride has taken place as a group since 2019.
OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique was one of the riders and said it’s, “extremely emotional” journey for the 20 different police services involved.
“It takes broken hearts and fills with the love and compassion that police officers have for their communities, their jobs and for each other. Everybody, everybody on this ride has been impacted by the death of a colleague. So it’s that time that we take that we bond together, to grieve together and get strength from each other’s company so we can continue to serve and protect our communities.”
Carrique said the majority of the day the wind was strong, but at the riders backs which helped.
“All in all it’s been an absolutely perfect day.”
The ride is something that takes 12 months to prepare for some of the cyclists.
Riding up to six days a week, proper nutrition and conditioning are just a few of the requirements the cyclists take into consideration for the journey.
Northumberland OPP Constable Brian Hodgins is a motorcycle training officer who has taken part in the Ride to Remember for 12-years.
Hodgins was good friends with Toronto Police Constable Andrew Hong who was murdered in the line of duty on September 12.
“It’s close to home. He was a friend of mine. He was a motorcycle officer as we all know. He was part of the event and would always help us through Toronto, coming into Toronto and getting out of Toronto with is expertise on that motorcycle of his.”
Hong’s funeral was held a day before the Ride to Remember on Wednesday, September 21.
“It’s a continuation from yesterday. It doesn’t end there. He’ll never be forgotten and we’ll continue to remember him.”
A number of the motorcycle escorting the cyclists had stickers remembering Hong.
“He’s looking down right now and I know he’s appreciative of this. Our motorcycle officers – we’re a tight community, we’re family and we take care of each other.”
In each of the communities the ride stops, they give back to the community by giving away a bicycle to a youth.
In Port Hope a bike and helmet was given to seven-year-old Lillian Cook and in Colborne a bicycle was given to eight-year-old Chase Dafoe.
Watching the offices outfit Chase, his mom Jessica said, “I have tears in my eyes. I’m actually very happy. He’s been through a lot. It made his day. It made his day.”
“He’s so excited to ride it.”
Just prior to leaving Colborne the officers held a moment of silence for York Regional Police Officer Travis Gillespie who was killed on his way to work from his home in Cramahe Township where he grew up.