LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Officer Jason Costa is often on patrol and stops and chats with children riding their bikes.
Costa rides mountain and road bikes all the time. His kids ride bikes. So he'd say, hey, let's all go for a ride together. On Saturday, that's going to happen. Costa, Lanesborough and Cheshire Police Associations are teaming up for their first Ride with the Cops bike ride.
"I come across all of these kids on bikes and I told them, let's organize a bike ride," Costa said. "It was just going to be a personal one, just go for a ride."
The department has a mountain bike but officers don't often get to use it in Lanesborough. Cheshire also has mountain bikes to use as needed but also don't get out very often. Costa talked with Cheshire about it and since the bikes are available, why not make it a bigger thing?
So the two Police Associations joined up to promote the community event. A few officers from each department are expected to join.
At 10 a.m. on Saturday he's looking for the community to join him at the former Sears parking lot at the Berkshire Mall for a ride up the Ashuwilticook Rail Trail to Diane's Twist ice cream shop in Cheshire and back.
"It's for the community, anybody who wants to ride. It is to get more people on bikes and enjoying the outdoors," Costa said.
The route is six miles each way so that could be long for some of the younger kids. But have no fear, there will be a special frosty treat option at Lansen Mold, which serves as a good turnaround point for those who won't go the full distance.
All Costa ask is that those who join in the ride wear a helmet. And if you don't have one, he's got about 10 recently donated to him that he can give out.
Biking has become Costa's way to connect with the community. It's a shared love.
"The bicycle allows you to do that, to connect easier than in a cruiser," Costa said.
And that has been growing. It wasn't that long ago when Target had a handful of bikes they could not sell for whatever reason or another so the company donated them to Costa. He repaired them and gave them out to those in the community who needed one or needed a new one
He's been collecting donations of used bikes as well. He'll repair them and give them out. He remembers a homeless man was walking through town on his way somewhere else and Costa chatted with him, found out his bike had been stolen in another state, and went to his garage and gave him one. He has donated new bikes to raffles for school fundraisers and the like.
He says he currently has about 15 bikes on hand - more than he currently knows what to do with. He's also gotten a monetary donation.
The associations will see how this event goes and maybe organize some more.
"I would like to do a mountain bike ride as well," he said.
And he also has a vision at possibly doing fundraisers to be able to purchase a bike specifically designed for those with disabilities to use. He said he's already been in conversations with a few council on aging in the area about teaming up on a purchase of one to help even more people enjoy the outdoors.
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