Boston to New York: Tour de Force to honor fallen 9/11 heroes

At Tour de Force 2011, cyclists raised about $400,000 for families of fallen police officers.

This weekend, 225 cyclists from across the U.S., Canada and Europe set off from Boston to cycle across New England to the Mystic Seaport, through Long Island’s wine country and into the streets of New York City, where on Tuesday they are expected to come to a rest at the site of the World Trade Center.

The annual four-day cycling extravaganza is primarily made up of police officers, and commemorates the anniversary of the infamous terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 by raising money for the families of fallen police officers across the country.

Last year the fundraiser pulled in $400,000, according to Tour de Force spokesman Jim Parker, who said organizers are wary to set a goal for this year’s ride.

“We don’t like to jinx ourselves, but 98 percent of our gross goes right back to the families of those killed in the line of duty,” Parker said.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined organizers and police for the kick off at 8:30 a.m. Saturday before the cyclists headed past the Boston Police Department headquarters, the 9/11 Memorial in Boston in the Public Garden then Fenway Park to embark on the 270-mile route.

“As we approach the 11th anniversary of September 11th, I can think of no better place to be than right here with all of you. Homeland security starts with hometown security, and this race is about honoring the men and women who provide that hometown security, especially those who have died in the line of duty. And I’m honored to take part in it,” Menino said.

The ride started in 2002 when now-retired NYPD Detective Robert De Paolis decided to ride his bicycle to honor the fallen police officers who gave their lives after the attack.

The movement has grown significantly since then, and raises funds for the families of fallen police officers nationwide.

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