Traveling 3,279 miles in seven weeks — on bicycles?
That’s the plan for 11 cyclists riding from Los Angeles to New York City this summer to raise money for Friendship Circle programs.
The coast-to-coast ride began just after 4 p.m. on July 1 at the Friendship Circle of Pacific Palisades’ office, where organizers held a brief opening ceremony. The initial leg of the trip took the group and 25 local-segment riders approximately 20 miles to the Valley Friendship Circle’s office in Studio City.
The cyclists expect to reach New York City on Aug. 17. Participants in the cross-country ride hail from the United States, Israel, Canada, England and Australia.
Mendel Groner, a Friendship Circle International staff member who is coordinating the ride, said that while it wasn’t necessary to be an experienced cyclist, all participants had to begin training for the ride no later than April.
“It’s amazing and cool that these people are [spending] their summer, half a year really, to put in their hard work for this cause,” Groner said. “Each one of them has taken the responsibility to raise $5,000. These people are amazing.”
Riders will cover an average of 85 miles per day and will make about 36 stops visiting various Friendship Circle chapters across the country to meet with families and volunteers.
Friendship Circle, affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, pairs primarily Jewish teenagers and children with special needs in their area for bonding and social events.
The annual ride began last year, when three rabbis decided to ride their bicycles from Central Park in New York City to Los Angeles in just less than seven weeks. One of the men, Zalman Perlman, is originally from Los Angeles. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared July 6 — the day the trio left New York — Bike 4 Friendship Day.
Around 25 additional segment riders, who will also raise money for the charity, are expected to participate at some point during the ride.
For more information or to register for a segment ride, visit bike4friendship.com.