The motto of the event is simple, yet poignant: “We ride for those who died.”
The Police Unity Tour is a series of 250-mile bicycle road races open to current and retired officers, as well as family members of officers who were killed in the line of duty. To date, the event has raised nearly $25 million.
“In May 1997, the Police Unity Tour was organized by Officer Patrick P. Montuore of the Florham Park Police Department with the hope of bringing public awareness of police officers who have died in the line of duty and to honor their sacrifices,” the event’s website states. “What started with 18 riders on a four-day fundraising bicycle ride from Florham Park, N.J., to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., has grown into nine chapters consisting of nearly 2,500 members nationwide who make the trip annually.”
Last year’s event raised $2.6 million. These funds are given to the families of fallen officers, as well as to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Cmdr. Ron Bayne, who joined the Sedona Police Department last summer, decided to challenge himself to participate in the event — something he said is a long time coming. His race will take place May 10 to 12 from Portsmouth, Va., to Washington, D.C.
“As far back as 10 years ago I had thought about doing this,” he said. “It was one of those things that I procrastinated at and never got to.”
Bayne retired from the Scottsdale Police Department two years ago and even though retired officers are eligible to participate, he felt it would have more meaning had he done it as an active-duty officer.
And then the Sedona job came about.
After accepting the position of commander for Sedona, one of the first things he did even before starting the position was to buy a road bike. For years he had been an avid mountain biker but as most riders will tell you, even though they both have two wheels, they’re very different, as is the training.
“My goal, when buying the bike, was to ride in the Unity Tour,” he said. “I quickly learned that road cycling is a lot different than mountain biking. But so far it’s been great.”
In order to take part in the event, riders must prove that they can ride both 50 and 75 miles on separate occasions and average a 16 mph pace.
“I know this sounds odd, but I’m hoping I suffer a bit,” Bayne said. “We’re riding in memory of fallen officers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Their family and friends have suffered a great deal as a result. So if I suffer — which will pale in comparison to what they have gone through — it will remind me why I’m riding and who I’m riding for.”
The desire to take part in this race became stronger for Bayne four years ago. While in training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., he was there during Police Week, which included the Police Unity Tour.
“That week, they honor those officers who had lost their lives the previous year,” he said. “As we stood there at attention, busload after busload of the families of the fallen officers arrived. It was incredibly moving as spouses, parents and children of the officers exited the buses.”
Bayne’s goal was to raise $2,000 for the ride. With more than three months to go before the event, he has already exceeded that total and sits in the top 10 out of the 130-plus riders in his chapter. He’s not done yet, as he’s hoping people will continue to donate. They can do so by going to firstgiving.com and in the search box type Cmdr. Ron Bayne. Then click on the listing for Ron Bayne’s page and click Donate. All donations are tax deductible.
In addition, Chief David McGill authorized uniformed personnel to sport facial hair for the month of January for a donation to the Unity Tour under Bayne’s name for $50. Needless to say, several did just that.