APD officers honor fallen comrades in inaugural End of Watch Memorial Bike Ride

By Greg Mellen

The fitness enthusiasts of the Anaheim Police Department are at it again. Less than two months after running the 120-mile Baker to Vegas torture test, Anaheim police will test themselves again — this time on bicycles.

A group of 21 riders, along with four support staff, will honor fallen police in the department’s inaugural End of Watch Memorial Bike Ride from Sacramento to Anaheim.

Collectively, the riders plan to cover 577 miles from the capitol to the Anaheim Police Department between today — Tuesday, May 8 — and Friday, May 11. The ride is expected to conclude around 3-4 p.m. at the station, where there will be a barbecue and celebration.

In recent years, a group of hearty Anaheim police officers have been part of a long-running Sacramento to Orange County memorial ride put on by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the Westminster Police Department.

Sgt. Jon Yepes said the Anaheim crew was so enthused with last year’s ride that it decided to gauge interest in the event within the department.

“We had a big group interested,” Yepes said. “So we took it on ourselves to (stage a ride) on our own.”

From left, Sgt. Jon Yepes, Anaheim Police Association President Edgar Hampton, Det. Gus Maya, Officer Armando Pardo, Sgt. Kelly Phillips, Sgt. Chris Masilon and Lt. Jeff Hemerson. Photo courtesy of APD Sgt. Jon Yepes

Anaheim officers will travel to Sacramento for the annual End of Watch commemoration for fallen officers who died in the line of duty in 2017. After a vigil and ceremony, the Anaheim police departed Tuesday.

The riders will be divided into three teams of seven riders that will hopscotch down the state with each team logging about six hours per day.

Unlike Baker to Vegas, the ride is not a competitive race, although it is still a physical test and requires fortitude.

And very much like Baker to Vegas, there are stretches when participants may question their sanity.

Last year, for Yepes, it was climbing the mountains between Gilroy and the coast where the temperature hit 107 degrees with radiated heat of 116.

Yepes also noted that riding on the shoulders of California roadways also can take a toll on the joints.

Returning with Yepes from last year’s sheriff’s ride are Sgt. Chris Masilon, Det. Gus Maya, Officer Armando Pardo, Sgt. Kelly Phillips and Lt. Jeff Hemerson.

Also joining the team will be a number of the crazies who helped Anaheim to an 8th-place finish at Baker to Vegas.

Yepes said the purpose of the ride is to raise awareness about police killed in the line of duty as well as raise funds for the Anaheim Police Survivors’ and Scholarship Fund to help support the families of the fallen and provide memorial scholarships. This year’s ride has raised $27,000.

Yepes said on a personal level, the event helps bind the officers.

“We all enjoy it,” he said. “The camaraderie-building from spending the whole day together.”