Riders in the 2012 Law Enforcement Bicycle Ride to D.C. leave Charlotte headed for Washington D.C. PHOTO COURTESY RON HORTON

Riders in the 2012 Law Enforcement Bicycle Ride to D.C. leave Charlotte headed for Washington D.C. PHOTO COURTESY RON HORTON

by Derek Lacey / Staff Writer

This May, more than 100 area police officers will travel 500 miles to Washington D.C. to visit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial–on bicycles.

The Law Enforcement Bicycle Ride to D.C. 2013 will feature area law enforcement officers riding all the way to our nation’s capital via bicycle, to honor and remember those officers that gave their life in the line of duty.

Riders will reach Washington D.C. just in time to kick off Police Week at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, the nation’s monument to all law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty. Two 304-foot-long walls are carved with the names of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers-more than 19,000-who have been killed throughout U.S. history, dating back to 1791, the first known death. New names are aded each spring, in conjunction with National Police Week, which is May 12–18 this year.

The goal is to make it to D.C. to kickoff National Police Week, and to attend an annual candlelight vigil service to honor their fellow law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Sergeant Thomas McKenzie is the only Mint Hill Police officer making the journey this year.

McKenzie is an avid cyclist, riding 50 to 60 miles every day, and has been seriously racing on bikes for nearly the last decade. He has raced up and down the East coast, done 6, 12, and 24-hour races, ridden long rides like the MS 150 and Breakaway to the Beach, both of which are rides benefitting Multiple Sclerosis, but this ride will be his longest: 500 miles through North Carolina and Virginia, en route to D.C.

“I thought it would be fun to do something for both my passions, cycling and law enforcement,” said McKenzie. “I’ve always wanted to go to the police memorial so I thought that was a good way to get up there, just to ride a bicycle.”

McKenzie and Mint Hill Police were able to raise all the money needed for the trip at a fundraiser Saturday, March 23.

“We’ve got all the the money raised, the bike’s ready, I’m ready, we’re just waiting on May 9 to roll around,” McKenzie said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

The riders will leave Charlotte May 9 at 9 am, escorted by Charlotte Mecklenburg Police, and continue to Harrisburg, and on to Asheboro, where they will be escorted by Asheboro Police Department to the end of their first day, a total distance of 95 miles.

On day two, the rider will leave Asheboro and stop for their first rest stop at the Victory Junction Gang Camp, then continue on to Greensboro, where they will stop at the Fallen Officers’ Memorial at Greensboro Police headquarters. Lunch will be at Reno’s in Gibsonville, N.C. The second day ends in South Boston, Va., after 118 miles.

After leaving South Boston on day three, the group will ride first to Timmy’s, a restaurant in Victoria, Va., and move on to lunch at Sandy Creek Baptist Church, continuing through Paineville, Va., where they will be escorted the last 30 miles into Richmond by Richmond and Chesterfield Police Departments, Totaling 139 miles on day three.

The most miles are saved for the last day, a 148-mile push to the finish line. The group will make it to Washington D.C. on May 12 after a day on the backroads of Virginia, and will arrive a day before the candlelight vigil.