Bikes Fight Cancer ride this weekend

  • More than 100 cyclists will take to the Pioneer Valley's roads this weekend for the Bikes Fight Cancer charity ride. All money raised will be donated to Dana-Farber. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Bikes Fight Cancer

  • Johnny and Meghan Morin organized the Bikes Fight Cancer charity ride as a way for less-experience cyclists to participate in fundraising for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Courtesy of Bikes Fight Cancer

Staff Writer
Published: 6/10/2021 7:38:19 PM

WHATELY — After a one-year hiatus, more than 100 bikers will be returning to the roads of the Pioneer Valley to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute this weekend.

Bikes Fight Cancer, a biking charity organization, will host its second annual charity ride event Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., starting at the Yankee Candle Manufacturing building at 102 Christian Lane in Whately. Participants will have the option of a 25 or 50-mile ride taking them up and around the Pioneer Valley.

Johnny Morin, who helped found Bikes Fight Cancer in 2006, started the event as a branch of the Pan-Mass Challenge to allow less-experienced riders to participate and fundraise. Morin’s father was treated at Dana-Farber, which is what motivated him to use his bike to “raise money for cancer through the PMC.”

“The Pan-Mass Challenge is like a 192-mile ride and the minimum fundraising is $6,000, so it’s not attainable for everyone,” Morin said. “We’ve designed our routes to be very beginner-friendly … and then we have an optional $100 fundraising goal so people can try it and see if they can fundraise, and hopefully surprise themselves.”

Bikes Fight Cancer held the event in 2019 and found success with over $15,000 raised for cancer research. Morin said they are on track to meet that milestone this year, too.

While this year’s event will feature a limited post-ride gathering without the food, beer and DJ of 2019’s event because of COVID-19 restrictions, Morin has high hopes for next year’s edition.

“We’re going to have bag lunches and no post-ride gathering because all of our permitting happened when the last round of COVID protocols were still in place,” Morin said. “Plans are already in effect for 2022 to make it better than ever.”

Other pandemic-related precautions include mask-wearing at the start and finish lines, capping registration at 100 riders, and staggered starting times to reduce crowding.

Morin said the cancellation of last year’s ride was disappointing, but it motivated him and his wife, Meghan, to hold the event this year, no matter what restrictions they had to adhere to.

“After 2019 there was a lot of excitement and momentum heading into 2020,” Morin said. “We’ve made it clear, it’s not going to be the same as 2019. And people are just excited to get back to riding in real life. No virtual events here.”

After a long year of virtual events, Morin said the reason he loves holding the event in person is to bring people together for a common cause.

“It has been a tough year for sure, but I’m excited,” Morin said. “We’re building a community of people with a common goal that has been missing in Western Mass., and that is the most important thing to me.”

Whately Selectboard member Joyce Palmer-Fortune said the event was well-planned despite the rapidly changing circumstances of the pandemic.

“They did a lot of good planning … I liked that they had modified their plans to help people be more spaced out,” Palmer-Fortune said. “I think it’s a really nice event.”

More registration and volunteer information about the event can be found at

Chris Larabee can be reached or at 413-930-4018.

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