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They’ll Bike to the Beach for kids with autism on Saturday

One group will leave from Park Avenue in Portsmouth at 11:30 a.m.


PORTSMOUTH — The annual Bike to the Beach event this Saturday, Sept. 5, will be a little different — a little less support for the riders, and a little more support for the beneficiaries.

The national organization Bike to the Beach for Autism has brought its signature fund-raising 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.  

On Saturday, 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 Rhode Island Stage 3 COVID plan, the annual supported ride from Boston to Newport (100 miles) is being replaced this year by an independent ride from Woonsocket (60 miles) and Portsmouth (20 miles). Riders will leave from Woonsocket at 9 a.m. and from Park Avenue at Aquidneck Avenue in Portsmouth at 11:30 a.m. (Note: This is a new start time; a previous story reported bikers were leaving Portsmouth at 1 p.m.)

Riders will end at a festive finish line at Sail Newport in Fort Adams, Newport, where Bike-On’s adaptive bikes will be on site for demonstrations from 2-4 p.m. The public is welcome and all COVID precautions — numbers, distance, and sanitizing — will be practiced. 

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.

“We believe in the power of cycling and making it possible for everyone to ride,” said Bike-On’s Alison Zack-Darrell. “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.”

Added Bari Freeman of Bike Newport, “Students with a whole range of special needs have a great time at our Bike Garage, fixing and riding bikes. 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,” said Ms. Mangino. “We'll be using our recumbent and handcycle while crushing miles for autism.” They said they hope to inspire more people to ride and raise awareness that biking can be for everyone.

For more information, please call Bike Newport at 401/619-4900 or email 

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.