Bike to the Beach 2017 at the Woonsocket starting line

By Bari Freeman, Bike Newport

The national organization Bike to the Beach for Autism has brought their signature fundraising ride to Newport since 2011. Bike Newport has supported the ride and riders since that time – when the Aquidneck Island organization was still a nascent nonprofit without staff or offices. This year, it will be a little different – a little less support for the riders, and a little more support for the beneficiaries.

On Saturday, September 5th, Bike Newport and Bike to the Beach will again collaborate to ride together and raise funds for programs for children with Autism, including Bike Newport’s programs for public school youth with special needs. And this year, they’ll be joined by their year-round supporter and partner, Bike-On of Warwick. 

In keeping with RI’s Stage 3 COVID plan, the annual supported ride from Boston to Newport (100 miles) is being replaced by an independent ride from Woonsocket (60 miles) and Portsmouth (20 miles). Riders from Bike Newport, Bike-On, and more will end at a  festive Finish Line at Sail Newport in Fort Adams with a well-distanced celebration of cycling for everyone – including demonstrations of Bike-On’s adaptive bicycles. 

Bike-On’s adaptive bicycles are for people with a range of mobility needs – from shared pedaling to hand pedaling to wheelchair platforms and electric assist.  Bike-On brings the bikes to many of Bike Newport’s community events so that everyone can participate – regardless of physical or cognitive challenges. At Bike to the Beach, they ‘ll ride side-by-side and support Bike Newport’s programs for youth with Autism.

Bike-On’s Alison Zack-Darrell explains, “We believe in the power of cycling and making it possible for everyone to ride. We’re riding with Bike Newport and Bike to the Beach for all the families who have members with Autism. Not only to support them in the challenges they face every day, but also by raising money to fund the programs that make their lives better and happier.”

“Students with a whole range of special needs have a great time at our Bike Garage – fixing and riding bikes,” shared Bari Freeman of Bike Newport. “Bike to the Beach is a chance to raise awareness and funds for programs like ours. Our friends from Bike-On always help ensure that everyone can enjoy riding bikes!”

Karla Caldera and Michelle Mangino, are both veteran Bike to the Beach cyclists. “I’m riding for my favorite little buddy,” explains Michelle. “We’ll be using our recumbent and handcycle while crushing miles for Autism.” Michelle and Karla hope to inspire more people to ride and raise awareness that biking can be for everyone.

Bike to the Beach has six annual rides around the country – New England, New York City, Washington DC, Houston, and the Florida Keys. “Every year we love riding into Newport on Labor Day weekend,” shared Ben Dalley of Bike to the Beach, “and we’re thrilled that we’re able to keep supporting local people and programs this year in a different way. Thanks to all who are supporting the efforts of the Bike Newport and Bike-On team!”

The riders will leave from Woonsocket at 9am and from Park Avenue in Portsmouth at 1pm. Bike-On’s many different adaptive bikes will be on site for demonstrations outside Sail Newport in Fort Adams from 2-4pm. The public is welcome and all COVID precautions – numbers, distance, and sanitizing – will be thoroughly practiced. For more information, please call Bike Newport at (401) 619-4900 or email

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