Local man reflects on his participation in

PERU - He came, he saw, he rode.

Robert W. Cronin returned last month from his participation in the 8th annual Tour de Force 9/11 Memorial Bike Ride. The 265-mile bicycle ride from Boston, Mass., to the site of Ground Zero in New York City was an experience Cronin said he will always remember.

"It was wild. People were lining the streets cheering us on," said Cronin. "It was amazing."

The retired New York State Trooper logged more than 3,000 miles while training for the ride, which he said was much different than the actual ride itself, which included more than 150 other cyclists.

"It was challenging, especially not knowing the hills. Around here, you know where the hills are and things like that," said Cronin, who added the weather was favorable with the exception of the first day, which was "cold, wet and rainy."

"We were excited when we got to Long Island. It was all flatland from there," he added with a laugh.

Cronin began raising donations to participate in the event earlier this year. He had to collect a minimum of $1,000 for a fund that benefits families of police officers killed in the line of duty.

Not only did Cronin meet his goal, he surpassed it by $1,900.

"I was hoping to raise between $3,000 and $5,000," said Cronin, "and a lot of people came through for me in the end."

Overall, the ride raised $225,000, said Cronin, who ended up riding 17 hours at an average speed of 15.5 miles per hour. It was all worth it, he added, as he rode in memory of fallen police officers like Joe Longobardo and Dave Brinkerhoff, who were each killed in the line of duty in separate incidents.

"I rode it for them," he said.

Cronin said the experience was such a good one, he's already training for next year's Tour de Force, which will travel from New York City to Washington, D.C.

"I've already got a new bike," he said.

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