INDIO, Calif. - Local cyclist Tim Esser and his daughter have arrived at Ground Zero in New York City after taking a month and a half-long ride from Indio.
The family isn't new to cycling by any means. Nearly 20 years ago, Esser began the Tour de Palm Springs, and more recently The Patriot Ride.
Now he decided to take on his own tour across America. The 3,000 mile trip was expected to take anywhere from six to eight weeks.
Esser and his daughters Christine and Kathleen made the trip to hallowed Ground Zero. Tim and Christina rode bicycles, while Kathleen drove the support RV.
"We have about 60 thousand feet of accumulative climbing that we're going to be doing," he explained.
That's the equivalent of going up and down Mt. Everest - twice.
Esser says it's nothing compared to the actions of our armed forces and first responders.
"I want everybody to pick up the phone, get on the computer, contact a veteran, active military, firefighter or law enforcement and thank them for all that they go through," he says, while given the chance to plug his own charity ride, The Patriot Ride, held in November. (You can still donate at www.ThePatriotRideforOurHeroes.com.)
The Essers hope their ride encourages people across the country to give thanks to those serving our country both nationally and locally.
"They see things on the job that we see in our worst nightmares," Esser says.
More than 100 people sent them off from the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio on the morning of August 4. Tim's list of close friends and supporters seems to grow with every event -- local leaders Supervisor John Benoit and Dr. Raul Ruiz, celebrity athletes Fred "the Hammer" Williamson and cycling gold olympian Nelson Vails, Riverside County Capt. Andi Shouse, and Riverside County Fire Division Chief Jeff Stowells to name a few.
"I think they're making a heroic effort for our heroes," said supporter and spectator Laura Caulk, holding back tears. "It's the least we can do."
Caulk's father was a Marine. She said her father would have been emotional, too. "His first advice would be 'You have to get up to show up!' I felt that's the least I could do to support the Esser effort!" said Caulk.
Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz made a statement that brought the crowd back to the moments of terror in New York city -- a solemn reminder of why Esser says he is doing this "nuts and crazy" ride.
"When you reflect on 9/11, and you see those horrific images of thousands of people running away, in the midst of that crowd, you see men and women in uniform," Ruiz said, "Whether it is law enforcement, fire men and women... They were running toward the building, toward the smoke. That's heroism at it's best."
The Essers brought a very unique flag to first responders at One World Trade Center. Made locally by Desert Arc, every country that lost a citizen on 9/11 is embroidered on the flag, along with the number of people that died. It's the only flag of it's kind in the U.S.
Twenty marines joined the Essers to the General Patton Museum in Chiraco Summit.
From there, it's a family affair.
You can follow the Esser World Trade Center Memorial Tour by clicking HERE.
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