Citi Bike Ride Reports

Riding for the Guided Dog Foundation

In all the months I’ve been riding Citi Bike, I’ve been neglecting my own bike, an old Trek 820 mountain bike which is the main bike I have home which I’ve used for years. I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a road bike for years, but with the roads being what they are in Queens and Long Island (lots of pot holes and gravel and trash) I figured it’s best to stick with my slow bike. There’s been more than one occasion that I’ve run into a huge pothole where I’ve been thankful I was riding my $349.95 mountain bike and not a $1400 road bike.

This weekend was the annual bike ride for the Guided Dog Foundation in Long Island. If you’ve never heard of them before, they’re an amazing organization based in Smithtown that trains seeing-eye dogs, companion dogs, and assistance dogs. They’re one of the oldest charities that do this, having been around since 1946. Amazingly, they provide the dogs to disabled individuals completely free of charge. All the costs of raising the dogs from puppies, training them, and caring for them are paid for by donations.

Each year they have a bike ride in Long Island. For years they’ve been running a bike ride to raise money–I’ve been riding for a few years and it’s always a great time. It’s not a big, hyped up event like the MS Bike Tour or the 5 Boro Bike Tour in the City. It’s really just a fun day that’s manned by volunteers from the Foundation, as well as the Suffolk Bicycle Riders Association.

While they do have corporate donors, they also rely heavily on individual donations. For me, it’s one of the best charities to donate to. There seem to be so many charities these days where you just don’t know where the money is going. And a lot of charities have gotten so political that it’s hurting the image of charities all over. But with this charity, you can see first-hand where the money is going. The highlight of each year is where you get to go meet the puppies that are being trained to be future guide dogs.

future guide dog

We even got to take photos with the puppies for a small donation. The puppy I was holding just started to kiss me as soon as he was handed to me (okay, maybe he was trying to lick the cream cheese from the bagel I just ate off my face). Charles Schulz said it best when he said that happiness is a warm puppy.

It was a very dog-friendly day. In addition to bagels and bananas for the humans, they even had dog treats lying out for the dogs.

dog treats

That morning, I pumped the tires for my bike and got on it for the first time in months. Now the Trek 820 is a VERY heavy bike. But when I took it out of the car and got on it, I was amazed at how light it felt; it was almost like getting on a road bike; I was even wobbly for the first few seconds. I didn’t realize how acclimated I had gotten to Citi Bike’s heavy frame, thick tires, and gear ratio. They definitely designed the Citi Bike to, well, a city bike. The big blue monster is one that’s not meant to go fast, and which is designed to take a beating every day.

Each year they have a variety of rides to choose from. There’s a 10-mile escorted ride, a 22-mile one (which we took), and a 32-mile one. Then beyond that, there are unescorted 55 and 63 mile rides. They all started from Hidden Pond Park in Hauppauge.

The 22 mile ride took us through Ronkonkoma, Holbrook, and Holtsville.

bike ride through smithtown

The ride wasn’t as picturesque as in previous years (where we usually start at the Guided Dog Foundation’s headquarters in Smithtown and rode all the way up to the Long Island Sound. We ended up riding through a lot of residential areas, through the LIRR Ronkonkoma station and yards, and by the airport. But one nice thing about this ride is that it was really, really flat. No killer hills here.

The volunteers as usual did a great job at the half-way checkpoint, with Gatorade, water, cups of M&Ms and nuts, bananas, oranges, Oreos, and of course the biker’s best friend: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.


Coming back after 22 miles, we got to participate in some of the festivities. This year, in addition to the bike ride, they had an event where dogs could stroll through the park with their owners. I got a kick out of coming back and seeing that the dogs were as pooped as I was.

pooped pooches

They had a raffle where you could buy one raffle ticket for $5, 3 for $10. I was feeling a bit on the generous side, so I decided to donate $20 to get 6 tickets. To my amazement, three of the tickets won, including this adorable gift basket, complete with three stuffed Guided Dog Foundation dogs!

gift basket

Overall, it was yet another fantastic day (with beautiful weather to boot) at the Guide Dog Foundation. If you love dogs, love biking, love to help people in need, or love all three, it is worth the trip next year. Keep an eye on their site to learn when to register for next year’s. And if your annual giving, consider this really, really great cause.

Thanks to the Guide Dog Foundation and the Suffolk Bicycle Riders Association for a great day 🙂

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