HARVARD -- Cyclists at this year's Ken Harrod Memorial Bike Ride can expect an exhilarating road race through Harvard's hills that will surely appeal to more competitive riders.
This is the first year the Harvard Firefighters Association has teamed up with Minuteman Bicycle Club to provide a race for qualified riders, said Firefighter Andrew Perry of the HFA.
"We've been trying for a few years to work with a cycling club to help us get more riders," Perry said. "We somehow got in contact with them and they said, 'Hey, we're looking for a home for our race.'"
The men's and women's races vary from 20 to 50 miles and carry prizes for the first few across the finish line. Starting times range from 8:05 a.m. to 10:50 a.m., and the courses start at the Bromfield School and end on Still River Road near the center of town.
But for those less competitive, there are still the regular 11- and 19-mile courses with no time limit. Both courses start at 9:45 a.m. at Bromfield and end at Harvard Center, where a festival will allow cyclists to celebrate with food and drinks. Children can participate in a brief chaperoned ride.
All rides are on Saturday.
The annual bike ride is named after Ken Harrod, a Harvard firefighter of 45 years who passed away in 2010.
Perry said the association named the ride after him because the group was looking for fundraising ideas and Harrod told them, "It's all about the bikers.
"Also, he liked to go on bike rides around town with his grandson," Perry said. "After he passed away, we were working on it and we decided to name it in his honor."
Money from registration fees goes to group causes, including a scholarship for a graduating senior and a family crisis fund that helps families in need after a disaster.
In the past, the race has usually attracted 100 to 120 riders, Perry said. But if spots in this year's races sell out, there could be anywhere from 300 to 500 cyclists.
"You don't have to be a professional racer or anything. If you're just a casual cyclist, just come on out and take a nice tour through Harvard," he said.
For information and online registration, go to harvardfire.com/bikeride.html.