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GROTON — Looking for a way to combine exercise, sightseeing through one of the Commonwealth’s most beautiful towns, and support of a good cause?

Then look no further than the second annual Harrod Memorial Bike Ride to be held in Harvard on Sunday, Sept. 11.

“Ken loved to bike so that was one of things that made us think of it,” said event organizer Bill Barton of how the idea for holding a bike ride came about.

“Ken had been a member of the Fire Department his whole life. Also, his son is currently a member of the department as well as his brother. Ken was a casual bike rider. He just liked to bike around town with his grandson. It was just something he liked to do.”

The ride itself will begin at the center of town and from there, branches out offering five different courses intended to appeal to the ambitions of riders with varying skill sets.

The five include a challenging 48 mile course in which riders will be expected to make three round trips through town; a less strenuous 32 mile course of only two round trips; a single course of 16 miles; a more doable 8 mile course; and finally, a 2 mile jaunt for younger riders.

“The ride starts at the Center Fire Station on Ayer Road and finishes there too,” said Barton of the five courses. “It goes all around town and there are different loops for those with different energy levels. There’ll be a couple of police details at dangerous intersections and firefighters in other places to give riders directions.”

Held in honor of former fireman Ken Harrod, the Memorial Bike Ride commemorates Harrod’s 45 years of service with the town’s Fire Department.

Many hearts in town were broken last year when Harrod, a long time resident of Harvard, died unexpectedly on May 4.

“Ken was always helping others out in any way that he could,” state’s the Bike Ride’s website. “He was a great mentor to all in the department, and loved by all for his patience, skill, charity, and kind manner. The Ken Harrod Memorial Bike Ride is a fundraiser honoring Ken’s memory and legacy.”

Last year, the first year of the Ride and what many hope will become a tradition in town, supporters raised over $5,000 that was used to fund a number of different charitable efforts in town including the Harvard Firefighters’ Benevolence Fund, the Harvard Firefighters’ Scholarship Fund, the Harvard Firefighters’ Equipment Fund, the Student Awareness of Fire Education (SAFE) Program, and the Harvard Firefighters’ Family Crisis Fund.

“Last year we had over 100 riders take part in the ride,” said Barton. “It was more than we expected.”

So don’t dawdle! Sign up early! Advance registration for the Ride can be had on line at $25 (through 9/9/2011) with discounts for families who sign up 3 or more riders.

Same day reg istration will be $30 with all proceeds this year benefiting the Harvard Firefighters Association.

Food will also be made available by the Harvard Lions and plans call for a silent auction to be held as well.

And check this out: T-shirts and gift bags will be provided to the first 200 registered riders!

And if you’re one of those who can’t muster the enthusiasm to ride a bike or simply won’t have the time, don’t fret! You can still make a donation in Harrod’s memory by writing a check in the name of the Harvard Firefighters Association and be sure to mail it c/o P.O. Box 613, Harvard, MA 01451, attn: Bill Barton, event treasurer.

“It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to see Harvard,” said Barton of the Ride. “Also, it’s in support of something that goes right back to the people of Harvard.”

To be held on Sept. 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Ride is open to everyone and everyone is invited to participate.

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