The rain couldn't stop them.
As a steady precipitation fell at the Lakewood Police Department headquarters Wednesday morning, about 200 law enforcement officers from around New Jersey rolled in on their bicycles.
At their first stop of the morning after embarking from Howell, the riders — including a contingent of seven from Manchester — honored Christopher Matlosz, a Lakewood police officer who was killed while on duty in January of 2011. Jahmell Crockam was in March of this year.
The rainy, dreary day was appropriate, said Lakewood Chief of Police Robert Lawson as he addressed the cyclists.
"This is a solemn occasion," he said. "I know its not very comfortable for the riders and hopefully you'll have sunny skies further on in your trip."
The officers will travel from southern New Jersey into Delaware, then to Maryland and finally Washington DC and are expected to arrive at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial for a candlelight vigil on May 13.
"We mourn all the officers," Lawson said. "Let's hope that we do not have to honor any more fallen officers in Lakewood, Ocean County, New Jersey or the rest of the country."
Officer Lynne Miller presented a framed Unity Tour shirt to Adam Matlosz, the brother of Christopher Matlosz.
"Chris was a great officer and not only that, he was a good person and a good friend," she said.
Six years ago Lakewood Officer William Preslar was killed in an automobile accident. Miller remembered her colleague presented his children with corsages.
"Your dad talked about you all the time and I know he's very proud of you," she said.
Andrew Cheney, president of Chapter II of the Police Unity Tour, Inc. and Jackson Police Captain, delivered remarks about Matlosz and presented a gold rose to his fiance Kelly Walsifer, who was in attendance along with the fallen officer's family.
"Chris died a hero that day, doing what he wanted to do — being a Lakewood police officer," Cheney said.
The Lakewood officers making the ride came to the podium and removed their headgear, revealing their bald heads; they shaved them in honor of Matlosz, who donned the look.
Following the ceremony, Walsifer called the day "emotional."
"It's amazing to see all the officers come together not only for Chris but for everyone who has died in the line of duty," she said.
She will ride with the tour to Atlantic City on Wednesday, and will again meet up with the cyclists in Annapolis, Md., before heading to the monument in Washington DC on Sunday.
are riding for Robert Tobias, a patrolman who was killed while conducting a Route 70 traffic stop on May 17, 1975. Tobias was struck by a driver who left the roadway and was 23-years-old at the time of his death. He had been on the force for one year.
"It's a small sacrifice that we can make," said Manchester Chief of Police Brian Klimakowski. "It's nothing compared to the sacrifice that these guys made."
The cyclists also are riding in honor of Lakewood Police Patrolman Hartley F. Richter, Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Detective Tina Rambo and Ocean Gate Police Officer Jason Marles. They will stop in Toms River and Ocean Gate Wednesday to remember Rambo and Marles.