Photos: Tour of Duty bicyclists pass through Phoenix en route to New York

Posted: Updated:
"The Tour of Duty Ride is an event unlike any other in the world today. It is fundamentally a celebration of the human spirit and of the moral values that transcend borders and engender a genuine sense of community." By Catherine Holland "The Tour of Duty Ride is an event unlike any other in the world today. It is fundamentally a celebration of the human spirit and of the moral values that transcend borders and engender a genuine sense of community." By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Stage four of the 2012 Tour of Duty Ride saw a team of  bicyclists -- 24 police officers, firefighters and military members from all over U.S. and Australia -- passing through Phoenix on their way to Flagstaff and then Denver as they make their way more than 2,600 miles from San Diego to New York City.

Three of the riders are actually from the Phoenix metro area -- Capt. Greg Hawk of the Phoenix Fire Department; Betsy Cionca, a firefighter and paramedic with the Peoria Fire Department; and Master Sgt. (Ret.) Scott Timmerman, who served in the Arizona Air National Guard.

The ride is meant "to honor and remember the military who have paid the ultimate price so we may enjoy our freedom. … This ride is a statement of hope for the future in a world consumed by financial gloom and terrorist alerts. The ride reflects the supreme values of humanity, mateship, camaraderie, and self sacrifice.

"The Tour of Duty Ride is an event unlike any other in the world today. It is fundamentally a celebration of the human spirit and of the moral values that transcend borders and engender a genuine sense of community."

The cyclists set out on Aug. 12, starting at the base of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. Going from carrier to carrier 29 days, their ultimate destination is the USS Intrepid in New York City. The riders will cover between 60 and 130 miles per day, passing through 20 states along the way. They plan to arrive at the Intrepid on Sept. 10.

Click image to enlarge map
>>> Click here for the schedule as the riders head east toward New York.

The Tour of Duty ride started as a coast-to-coast run in 2010 to remember and honor those lost in the Sept. 11 terror attacks., particularly the first responders.

This is the event's first time as a bicycle ride.

"I can't believe how much support we've been getting," Australian rider Michael Tagell said. "It blows me away, coming from Australia, how much support we're getting here in America. It actually makes me really proud to be an Australian, to be a firefighter."

A project that originated in Australia's Northern Territory, the Tour of Duty ride will raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project and the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund.

To make a contribution, you can text "ride" to 41444. You also can support the team by donating or purchasing a commemorative coin at TourOfDutyRide.com.

You can follow the team's progress on Facebook. They plan to post pictures every day they're on the road. The team also is tweeting as @TourOfDutyRide.