Jim Berklite has been a competitive cyclist for years.
From the late 80s to the early 90s, he took rides up and down the coast, even some as far as from Canada to Mexico. But the annual ride with Fire Velo — a national cycling club comprised of firefighters — he’s participated in for the past seven years always seems like more of an accomplishment than some others.
“Big guys who aren’t very emotional become emotional; it’s an accomplishment that not many people thought they could do,” he said. “It’s just the emotional side of seeing things people do things they’ve never done before.”
Berklite, the club’s president, and Fire Velo will begin this year’s trip this Sunday, Aug. 18, starting their 471-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to spread cancer awareness among fire fighters up and down the California coast.
The ride, in total, will last seven days, making stops in places such as Half Moon Bay, Big Sur and Morro Bay before ending at the Santa Monica Pier.
The group consists of 35 riders, some cancer survivors, who will stop at fire stations along the coast to talk about cancer among fire fighters. In a job surrounded by a constant stream of toxins, it forces firefighters to talk about cancer and prevention, Berklite said.
One of the stops along the way will be in Half Moon Bay, during the first day of riding. The riders will make two stops, one at the local fire department for dinner and an awareness presentation, and the other at Hassett ACE Hardware for a donation ceremony.
“This kind of thing is totally up our alley. We are a community center in Half Moon Bay. Everyone in town knows us, and we know everyone in town,” Hassett ACE Hardware Brand Manager Jocelyn Lovelle said. “To be able to support something that’s local is super great for us, really exactly the kind of support interaction we seek out in the community.”
This is the first year the hardware store has partnered with Fire Velo. And along with the donation, the store’s owner, Eric Hassett, will ride with the group through the Half Moon Bay portion of the leg.
In all, the new relationship with the store gives the riders the ability to reach out directly to the community, rather than just firefighters, Berklite said.
“California is rife with fires and I think firefighters are truly one of our unsung heroes,” Lovelle said. “Personally, I think firefighters are just rad.”
That’s one of the reasons why Lovelle says she thinks the store will most likely donate and pair up with the ride in the coming years.
“We get to support people who support our community,” Lovelle said. “That really says it all.”
Riders will stop at Hassett ACE Hardware anywhere from 2-3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18, and the ceremony is open to the community.