tourdefhRiders assemble for the start of last year’s Tour de Fair Haven.

The straightaways and sidestreets of the greater Green have been thinned — just barely — of peak-season traffic. The late summer sun starts inching for the door before the check arrives, just a little earlier each day.

For hundreds of year-round residents and frequent flyers, however, this little corner of eastern Monmouth County is just coming into its own in the weeks past Labor Day — and one guy’s “good sleeping weather” is another’s prime pedal time.

This Sunday brings the first in a trio of high profile fundraising events powered purely by gears and chains and the people who make them work. A sequel to 2009’s inaugural competition, the second annual Tour de Fair Haven Bicycle Racing Event traces a circuit through a “welcoming and cheering” crowd. Like the two local biking tours that follow on September 25 and 26, it’s a recently minted tradition that’s fast becoming a season-extending attraction — with each turn of the wheel bringing in bucks for worthy causes.

pimvanhemmenA scene from 2009’s Tour de Fair Haven. (Photo by Pim Van Hemmen)

Tour de Fair Haven Bicycle Racing Event. According to event director and cycling aficionado Michel Berger, 2009’s first-ever Tour de Fair Haven (we have it on good authority that the name is French for “Tour of Fair Haven”) was “a tremendous success” that hit the ground running, or riding — drawing some 500 serious cyclists to the “small and quaint town” on the Navesink, a number that included nearly a dozen current or former national champions.

For the 2010 sequel that commences at 7a outside the firehouse on River Road, Berger (of the borough-based co-sponsor ForeFront) and company have assembled a mix of national (Coca-Cola), regional (Shop-Rite) and local (Undici Restaurant) sponsorships that’s allowed the organizers of this United States Cycling Federation-sanctioned event to offer more than five times the amount of prize money than in 2009.

“We’re now becoming one of the major race events in New Jersey, just behind the prestigious Tour of Somerville, the oldest bicycle race in the USA,” Berger writes in an email. “We’re expecting to attract, as a result, some of the best professionals, and some of the best national, regional, and local amateurs.”

Reflecting the increased level of interest, the event team has added two more races to the mix — a “Cat 5” tour for beginners and a women’s race. All competitive events start at the firehouse, making multiple laps (ranging from about 10 to nearly 40 miles) on an approximately 3-mile circuit along River and Ridge Roads in Fair Haven and Rumson (one local racer/blogger’s account of last year’s race can be found right here). The seven competitive categories are followed by a series of kids’ events. All competitors, sponsors, volunteers and visitors will receive a bag of goodies, including the official Tour t-shirt and coupons from local businesses. As with last year’s Tour, all proceeds go to benefit the Red Bank-based Joan Dancy & PALS Foundation for ALS patients in our community; the entire event is dedicated to the memory of competitive cyclist Kerrie Anne Guibord, who passed away from ALS in 2009.

“I wanted to do this for the kids, for the PALS people, and for the sport of bike racing in Fair Haven,” says Berger when reached at his office on River Road — adding that “I’ll be doing the race myself,” although at press time he was unable to confirm the participation of another prior pedaler, Fair Haven’s own bike-friendly Mayor Mike Halfacre. For full details and registration info, take it right here.

cbtfoundationThe pace is more training-wheels leisurely, but the drive to raise needed funds is every bit as serious at the annual Bike for the Basie event, going on out at Sandy Hook next Saturday, September 25. (Count Basie Foundation)

Second annual Bike for the Basie Event. It’s not a race per se — more like a wonderful opportunity for cyclists of all ages and experience levels to find their own pace and explore some of the area’s most extraordinary scenery and history. Still, when the Count Basie Theatre Foundation‘s 2010 Bike for the Basie event previews with a Kick Off Party on the evening of Friday, September 24 (this year at the Southwest-style favorite Copper Canyon in Atlantic Highlands), it’ll maintain a mission to raise serious funds for a very much living bit of history — the ongoing restoration efforts at the landmark Monmouth Street theatre.

The 7:00p Canyon Kick-Off will offer light appetizers and drinks, with pre-registered entrants given the opportunity to pick up their official goodie bag, as well as enter to win “a cool beach cruiser and helmet.” Call the restaurant at (732)291-8444 to reserve for this event.

The action picks up the following morning out at the north-end Fort Hancock area of Sandy Hook, with registration and a complimentary breakfast for participants beginning at 7:00a, and biking events commencing at 9:00a. Options include a 15-mile “Tour de Hook” that runs from the north to the south-end park entrance, as well as a 5-to-7 mile “Easy Rider” course exploring the amazing gun-battery installations that speak of the old Fort’s past as a crucial component of national defense during the Second World War. A “Kiddie Course” welcomes tricyclists, training wheelers and their families to a short tour that includes a water stop at the nearby History House.

Also included in the registration fee ($100 families, $50 adults, $25 kids 12 ad under) are a commemorative t-shirt, picnic lunch, and goodie bag — as well as other on-site extras like an 8:15a yoga session with Dan Abbott; chair massages from 9:30a, and a flat-changing clinic featuring Cliff from Bike Haven. Register online for the event right here.

amybolgerbikenyWith routes passing through Rumson, Middletown and Fair Haven, the 2010 Twin Lights Tour on September 26 takes in some of the greater Red Bank Green’s most scenic sites. (Photo by Amy Bolger/Bike New York)

Twin Lights Bike Ride. Back for its ninth annual edition, the yearly endurance rally that came together in the wake of 9/11 racks up some formidable mileage through some of the more scenic panoramas of Monmouth County — beginning and ending in sight of the historic hilltop beacons that once upon a time offered a clear-day view of the Twin Towers.

A co-presentation of Bike New York and The Highlands Business Partnership, the event on the morning of Sunday, September 26 offers four distinct routes (30, 50, 75 and 100 miles), post-ride seafood for sale plus live music, free t-shirts for entrants, maintenance seminars, rest areas and “full SAG support.” Along the way there’ll be scenery that ranges from the work-in-progress Highlands Bridge and Middletown’s Many Mind Creek, to the panoramic vistas of the Oceanic Bridge and the stately homes of Rumson and Fair Haven, to the horsey-set scapes of Colts Neck and even the Turkey Swamp Wildlife Area.

A portion of the proceeds benefit The Wellness Community, the Eatontown-based cancer support nonprofit. Veteran pedalers and aspiring Armstrongs can register at 7:00a in Huddy Park, Bay and Waterwitch Avenues in downtown Highlands, and complete details on registration, route options and more can be found right here.