by Patricia Keys
Ruff Ride cyclists launched their second day of this year’s Memorial Bicycle Ride on Friday, May 10 from Hancock.
The Ruff Ride became a Law Enforcement United (LEU) Sanctioned Event in 2012 and hosts an annual trail-style Bicycle Ride leaving from Cumberland, Md. to Washington, D.C. along the C&O Canal Trail.
The ride is focused on honoring the fallen K-9 officers killed in the line of duty and will meet up with hundreds of law enforcement professionals from several other states to launch the official Annual Police Week Memorial observance (May 13-19, 2018).
The group, which started in Cumberland last Thursday and took the C&O Canal to Hancock, was set to meet up with nearly 900 other members, finishing the final leg of the bicycle journey as one group.
Scott Humphrey, LEU Maryland Division President, said there were approximately 48 bicyclists and 11 support team personnel (primarily full-time law enforcement officers from around the country) who left Cumberland on May 10. The group arrived in Hancock not long after 5:30 p.m.
Ruff Ride participants were personally greeted by members of the local police department. Chief Richard Miller, along with Officer Adam Parkolay and K-9 Handler, Officer Rick Cook, with Benno, Hancock PD’s K-9, a Belgian Malinois, shook hands and talked with the riders about their C&O Canal ride and their ultimate destination, Washington, D.C.
The Ruff Ride is the first specifically dedicated memorial bicycle ride to recognize Law Enforcement K-9 partners that have died in the line of duty.
The organization believes that every K-9 is a special kind of hero, four-legged officers, who in many instances fought valiantly and in many cases saved the lives of their human partners.
Stories shared included sad losses and emotional memories, but also light-hearted tales of squirrels meeting head-on with one particular cyclist, Matt Ford of the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department. He now travels with a “no-squirrels” sign affixed to the back of his bicycle seat.
In addition to law enforcement officers that are participating, the group also includes several law enforcement survivors, like Cindy Roberts, wife of slain Tampa, Fla. police corporal Michael Roberts. Roberts is the Past President of Central Florida Concerns of Police Survivors and one of the 48 Ruff Ride cyclists.