ELIZABETH—On a sunny day in July in 1990 former Elizabeth resident Dan Pinzon was driving to his mother’s house with a friend when he suddenly and violently collided with another car which had stopped short in front of him. The accident cost him the loss of his legs, but has not interfered with his abilities as an athlete, or his spirit as an avid proactive and successful businessman.
As evidence of his physical prowess as a wheelchair athlete, Pinzon will be joining 1,000 cyclists of all ages on Sunday, May 19, starting and finishing at Elizabeth’s City Hall, in celebrating a 10 year tradition, the Tour de Elizabeth, a community driven event that showcases Elizabeth’s heritage, history and opportunity.
The 10th Anniversary inspired this year’s theme, “the Ten Things I like about Elizabeth”. The 15 mile ride treats its riders to views of the business, historic, diverse, recreational neighborhoods which boast history and the promise of opportunity. Previous Tours, with themes like “Elizabeth in the Movies”, Elizabeth’s Architecture, Elizabeth’s Diversity” have attracted thousands of Elizabeth and Union county residents, and riders from all parts of the State of NJ and Northeastern United States. Funding from a Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders HEART (History, Education, Arts, Reaching Thousands) has made the theming of the Tour possible.
Pinzon’s participation registers his goal of challenging children and adults both physically and mentally, “I believe that we need to keep active especially to develop a work ethic and embrace positive habits that will help us in life. Today as a 42 year old paralyzed individual it is essential for me to exceed expectations just to be able to live a ‘normal’ life. By this I mean I ride my bike over 4,000 miles a year to maintain an upper body that will give me the strength and endurance to be able to lift myself in and out of my car 30-40 times a day as I visit clients on a daily basis.” As evidence of his commitment to fitness and activity and charity, on April 24, Pinzon participated in a 300 mile charity ride with Bo Jackson and other sports luminaries in Alabama.
The organizers of the annual Tour and Groundwork Elizabeth, which oversees the Bicycle Steering Committee have planned the route so that it can be ridden safely and enjoyably, with views of urban and natural beauty for riders of every skill. City of Elizabeth police provide escorts and traffic control officers so that cyclists make it safely through the many road intersections. Although the Tour has attracted riders as young as 8 and as advanced as 80, the Safety portion of the Committee led by the Police Department stresses that riders should have a basic level of competency and children under the age of 12 should be accompanied by an adult.
Before the ride, beginning at 7:30 a.m, radio station NJ 101.5 will be at site, hosting contests and awarding prizes. DJ’s from Colorblind Productions, who have been assisting at the Tour since 2004 will continue with announcements, music, and entertainment as well, and will serve as announcers during the free raffle.
After a small group of advanced cyclists make a quick departure in a pre-ride group, intermediate riders get going, taking a more leisurely pace to enjoy the sights of the city. And finally, families with younger children set out. There is also a point half-way through the route to turn off and be back at the starting point if a rider does not feel up to finishing the ride. The site in front of City Hall will be set up with display tables for the sponsors and other organizations that want to share their products and ideas.
And should anyone have a flat tire or other mechanical problems along the way, there will be a “sag wagon” trailing the ride to pick up those needing a lift back.
Mayor Chris Bollwage has been an integral part of the success of the annual Tour from its very start and will be riding the Tour this year. “The Tour is one of the City’s most popular events. Hundreds of riders of all ages from near and far come to Elizabeth to participate,” said Bollwage. “Whether they are first timers or have visited time and again, the cyclists get to take a ride around our diverse neighborhoods – exploring our restaurants and historic buildings, showing them what Elizabeth is all about.” The Mayor is riding with the anticipated 1,000 riders who will be participating.
The Tour de Elizabeth is organized by a dedicated group of Committee members from all walks of life, and who can be recognized for their orange shirts on the day of the Tour. Hosting the ride are Bollwage, the City of Elizabeth, the Elizabeth Avenue Partnership, the Historic Midtown Special Improvement District, the Elizabeth Development Company, and the Greater Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce, and it is supported by its many loyal sponsors and by admission fees. Riders can still register by downloading the registration form at elizabethnj.org or groundworkelizabeth.com or by calling 908-289-0262. Riders can also register and pay online by accessing the two websites.
Forms are also available at bicycle stores and other venues across Union County. Last minute registration on the morning of the ride on Sunday, May 19, is $20, beginning at 7:30 a.m. is possible at the event site, 50 Winfield Scott Plaza. Riders are encouraged to register online or by mail after download a form; early registrants will receive a free hat or T-shirt courtesy of Tour Signature sponsors Elegant Headwear and T-rific T’s.
The Tour’s sponsors enjoy benefits such as recognition on posters, tables at the event site, media, and free riders. This year’s sponsors include: the Elberon Development Company, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Joe Cryan (NJ-20th), the Elmora Pharmacy, Harbor Consultants, Liberty Payroll Solutions, Metro USA Fitness, Sonic, Phillips, the Elizabeth YMCA, Wawa, Michelinos, Jersey Gardens Mall, 66 Bayway Refinery, Brounell and Kramer Realtors, the Elizabeth Avenue Partnership, the Atalanta Corporation, the Historic Midtown Special Improvement District, State Farm Insurance, Angel Rodriguez office, Infineum USA LP, the Suburban News, the Star Ledger, the Elizabeth Rotary Club, the Elizabeth PBA #4, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, Investors Savings Bank, and American Water. Sponsorships are still available by calling Groundwork Elizabeth at 908-289-0262 and offer free riderships and other benefits.
A full array of tables for sponsors and services will be exhibited at Winfield Scott Park on tour day.
Funds raised by the event help pay for its amenities and also go towards helping Groundwork Elizabeth accomplish its mission of environmental sustainability in the City by “improving places, improving lives.”
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