Locals Bike to the Beach for a Good Cause

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 It was a big ride for a big cause. A group of locals took part in the annual Bike to the Beach on Saturday, October 2, riding from Rockaway to the Hamptons, all to raise money for those with autism and other disabilities.

On Saturday, a team of nine guys met at team leader, Joe Mure’s home, the site of the annual Little North Pole, to jump in on the ride that began in Manhattan and continues on to Long Island. At about 6 a.m. on Saturday, the guys met up and rode to the first checkpoint in Fort Tilden, where they joined the rest of the Bike to the Beach riders. The local group calls themselves the Rockaway Loopers, named after “The Loop,” the route that goes across both Rockaway bridges, around Jamaica Bay and along the Belt Parkway. While keeping in shape, this group often trains around “The Loop,” so it was an appropriate name when they decided to form a team this year. Among the locals on the team were Mure, Mike Caiazzo, Frank Gaeta, Jimmy Orlando, Christopher Padilla and Edward Mattera.

The Bike to the Beach, a full 100-mile ride, allows riders to jump in at various points for a shorter trek. Mure and most of this team did more than 80 miles. But no matter where riders start, it’s all for a good cause. The annual ride helps raise money for autism and disability charities such as Autism Speaks. For Mure, who has done the ride four times, Bike to the Beach is an opportunity to help him stay in shape and to raise money for a good cause, something Mure is a big advocate for. While Mure’s Little North Pole mostly raises funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, he often helps other causes. Mure holds additional special lighting events for St. Camillus Special Olympics as well as a school that serves kids with autism, so he is no stranger to this cause.

“It’s a difficult ride. A long ride. It’s not an easy ride, but at the same time, it’s nothing compared to what these kids with autism deal with each and every day of their lives. So we dealt with some difficult moments throughout the ride. They deal with difficult moments throughout their day and that’s every day,” Mure said. “Not only is it great exercise, it’s for a great cause. That’s why we rode, to try to help some of the children with autism.”

With their fundraising efforts, the Rockaway Loopers were able to raise nearly $7,500 for the event.

For some of the Rockaway Loopers, the ride was an opportunity for personal achievement. Though the team jumped in later, Mike Caiazzo managed to do the full 100 miles, biking around extra miles at each rest stop. “It’s a personal conquest of mine to pedal 100 miles at the ripe age of 59. It’s a goal that I try to meet once a year to justify some of my bad habits,” Caiazzo said. He added that everyone reaching their goals was made possible by the support of the team. “I definitely had the help of our team. When someone is feeling sluggish, the other guys will say, ‘come on!’ We kind of push each other when you need it. It helps to work as a team,” Caiazzo said.

Mure hopes that in the future, the Rockaway Loopers team will grow so they can raise even more money for the cause. For more information about the event, check out: www.biketothebeach.org

 By Katie McFadden

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