The 34th annual Ben to the Shore Bike Tour will take place on Sunday, Aug. 29, and for the first time, the Berlin Fire Company will participate.
The ride is hosted by the Families Behind the Badge Children’s Foundation, which its website describes as a Philadelphia-area nonprofit that supports the families of fallen and critically injured first responders and builds healthy connections in the communities it serves.
For 15 years, the fire company has helped pass out food and water to bikers at rest stops, directed traffic and picked up bikers when their vehicles broke down, but this year, it has itself entered the race. Bike riders have two options: trek 65 miles from Philadelphia to Atlantic City, or begin in Berlin and go for 50 miles.The fire company opted for the latter.
Rushi Pandya, the fire company’s team captain and volunteer firefighter, explained that his team was actually supposed to participate last year, but due to COVID, the race became virtual.
“Just helping out with this organization for so long, over the past two years or so, I found myself riding my bike a bit more, so I figured I would give it a shot,” he said. “I got a bunch of other riders at the fire company involved and their families, too.
“We’re asking for local residents and other businesses to donate to our cause to absolutely do that, because this is something we hold really close to our hearts,” Pandya added.
The Berlin company’s goal is to raise $5,000 with a team that consists of nine members who are firefighters, their family members or part of the fire company’s ladies’ auxiliary.
“It’s a 50-mile ride, so you’re not going to get everybody to jump on,” Pandya elaborated. “Without any experience, you’re not just going to jump on a bike and say, ‘I got this.’”
The team meets every Sunday to bike 20 to 30 miles in preparation for the 50-mile ride.
On the day of the tour, entrants will meet at the Berlin Shopping Center, near the former Kmart, around 7 a.m., then join the other bikers at 8.
The Ben to the Shore Tour is still accepting registrations. To learn more about the organization or to register for the ride, visit https://www.fbbcf.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=578.
To support the Berlin Fire Company’s team, visit https://www.fbbcf.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=6646.