Club East Colfax Tour de Force History
Hi my name is Gregg Swanson, I am honored to be a part of something so big. Like a bicycle a team is only as good as all of it’s intricate parts, and I am just a small piece in a large project with an amazing team of people. Let me share my story with you in hopes to inspire some team rally and support.
The passing of Bill “Pont” Pontious in July 2014, pushed me to commit to riding in the 2015 Tour de Force (TDF) Memorial Bike Ride. Bill was an avid bike rider and West Coast Coordinator for the TDF.
When Scott Erricson, Joe Mooney and Andy Walker heard of the event, they immediately joined me and the four of us completed the 2015 Tour de Force Memorial Bike Ride. We were apprehensive about riding 280 miles – NY City to Boston; however, as soon as we crossed the finish line, in unison, we said, “we are doing this next year.”
To date our local riders have grown to 27.
Club East Colfax is the east coast tribute to Pont and his Aurora, CO, Club Colfax, named after the street he patrolled and in support of the Aurora officers killed in the line of duty. The Club East Colfax feature white jerseys with black lettering and include several of Pont’s favorite things, the CT & CO flags, EOW 07/30/2014 and the thin blue line.
Bill graduated from the Connecticut Police Academy on June 8, 1984, which set the stage for an honorable and valiant career in law enforcement that spanned over 30 years. It included service with three separate police forces. He served five years for the City of Groton, before accepting a position with the Los Angeles Police Department. Bill was assigned to the Harbor Division and later transferred to Hollywood where he frequently patrolled by bicycle. It was during this time that he was featured in a nationally televised episode of the popular TV series “Cops”. Bill had many entertaining stories of his service while on the L.A.P.D. but rarely talked about his courageous experiences during the L.A. Riots in 1992. This time in his career undoubtedly solidified his bond in brotherhood with his law enforcement family. Drawn by the majestic Rocky Mountains and outdoor sporting activities, Bill transferred to Colorado’s Aurora Police Department on July 25, 1994, where he remained until his death. His first year on the force, Bill was named “Rookie of the Year” and several other commendations followed.
The Tour de Force’s dual mission is to honor the victims of 9/11 by keeping their memory alive through cycling events and to raise funds, to benefit the families of police officers, who were killed in the line of duty, each year, nationwide, making the ultimate sacrifice. The Tour de Force is a registered 501©3 charity with the IRS.
The “Tour de Force” was started in 2002 after Det. Robert DePaolis of the NYPD (since retired) decided to ride his bike to honor the fallen police officers that gave their lives in the September 11, 2001 attacks. He was then joined by 7 other members of the NYPD and one member of the Bronx District Attorney’s Office and along with four volunteer support personnel, they cycled their way from the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, to Ground Zero, NYC. In 2003, the Tour de Force was incorporated in the state of New York as a nonprofit charity and later gained 501(c)3 status from the IRS.
The TDF has now evolved into an annual four-day event in which we continue to remember our brothers and sisters that died that fateful day. In their honor, we have made it our mission to raise funds for families of Police Officers, killed in the line of duty, nationwide. The TDF also holds several one-day benefit events, each year.
Each September, law enforcement officers from around the country and abroad depart on bicycles and journey approximately 270 miles along the east coast to support this cause. Each and every rider participates in raising funds to support what we all believe is a wonderful and very worthwhile endeavor. It is the belief in our mission that brings so many participants back year after year.
The Tour de Force is a fully supported ride with a dedicated support staff of volunteers. Since our first ride in 2002, we have now grown to more than 250 riders and 40 support team members. Six regional coordinators help guide the participants in their region, while a four member Board of Directors is charged with the yearly operations, planning, and facilitation of this nonprofit organization.