Traction sand, gravel and potholes still warrant caution for bicycles braving the region’s winter-weary roads. But early bloomers are getting a leg up on conditioning for a long list of cycling events scheduled throughout the region this season.
Most of these tours are fundraisers that feature food and rest stops, with cyclists happily donating to charitable causes in return for the pampering of a well-oiled event.
Participation ranges from the maximum 250 in the week-long Ride Around Washington supported camping tour, which runs from Willapa Bay to Yakima this year, to a cap of 10,000 entrants for the annual Seattle to Portland (STP) ride.
A few events already have occurred, such as the February Chilly Hilly on Bainbridge Island, and last Sunday’s Gran Fondo Ephrata – 78 miles of cyclo-cross style riding on tough, remote paved and gravel country roads in central Washington organized by Vicious Cycling Events ( beezleyburn.com).
Registration may already be sold out and closed for some of the most popular conventional cycling events. Even the STP ride was about 95 percent full on Friday.
However, registration has not started for most of the more casual local rides, which have plenty of elbow room with an emphasis on getting all sorts of people out on their bikes for a good time.
A good example is The Lilac Century Family Fun Ride, with its reputation for being the first big organized event of the season in the Spokane area. This year, however, the event has been moved out of April for a date in May.
This 18th annual event, sponsored by Aurora Northwest Rotary, takes all comers and uses the proceeds to boost underprivileged kids and families.
The Rotarians staff food stops along the route near Spokane Falls Community College and put on a post-ride baked potato feed. The event attracts around 600 riders.
Top events in the region through August are listed below. Costs are included unless the ride has a range of fees or offers multiple discounts for youths or families.
Another story will run in the Outdoors section this summer rounding up the long list of quality rides being organized for September and October, including Spokane’s popular Spokefest on Sept. 11.
Meantime, the complete list of 2011 cycling events schedule is posted and updated online at spokesman.com/outdoors.
2011 bike rides:
Skagit Spring Classic, May 7 – Skagit Bicycle Club’s 21st annual event includes routes of 25, 45, 62 and 100 miles on rural roads between Burlington and Bellingham. Cost: $35
Lilac Century and Family Fun Ride, May 15 – Ride 15, 25, 50, 66 or 100 miles starting at Spokane Falls Community College, with food stops. Sponsored by Aurora Northwest Rotary. Advance registration encouraged, but event-day registration is accepted 6:30 a.m.-10:30.
Info: sanwrc.org/; email firstname.lastname@example.org
Inland Empire Century, May 21 – Ride 25-, 50-, 75- or 100-mile routes through orchards, vineyards and farm fields in the lower Yakima-Columbia river valleys, sponsored by Kiwanis and Group Health. Cost: $35.
TOSRV-West, (Tour of the Swan River Valley) based in Missoula, May 21-22 – Two-day ride limited to 300 riders covering either 85 or 110 miles each way. Cost: $105, plus Missoula Bicycle Club membership.
Century Ride of the Centuries, May 27-30 – Three days of supported riding and meals with new route options each day through Eastern Oregon farmlands near Pendleton and Blue Mountains. Limited to 250 riders. Cost: $195.
7 Hills of Kirkland, May 30 – A 40-mile “seven hills route” or a 62-mile metric century route from urban to rural roads on a low-traffic holiday, supported with food by Kirkland Rotary. Cost: $30.
Apple Century, June 4 – Ride 50 or 100 miles starting from Walla Walla Point Park in Wenatchee; sponsored by Wenatchee Sunrise Rotary; about 900 riders. Cost: $60.
3 Rivers Race and ride, June 4 – Ride 69- or 100-mile routes based in La Grande, Ore. Tenth annual tour of the Grande Ronde Valley benefits fight against domestic violence. Cost: $75 minimum pledge.
CHaFE 150 Bike Ride, June 4 – A 147-mile loop with five food stops from Sandpoint through Troy and Bonners Ferry and back (or choose the shorter 80-miler), benefits Panhandle Alliance for Education. Limited to 300 riders. Cost: $120.
Flying Wheels Summer Century, June 11 – Ride rural Puget Sound routes of 24, 45, 70 or 100 miles in what’s billed by the sponsoring Cascade Bicycle Club as the largest century in Washington: Cost: $35.
I Made the Grade out of Clarkston, June 18 – An 18-mile climb 2,000 feet up the Lewiston Grade via the Old Spiral Highway, sponsored by First Presbyterian Church. $20.
Ann Weatherill Cycling Classic, June 18 – Ride 30-, 66-, and 100-mile routes from Walla Walla Pioneer Park, includes food stop and postride wine and buffet. Benefits cycling safety. Cost: $45.
Tour de Blast, June 18 – Attracts 1,500 riders to national monument roads in the Mount St. Helens volcanic blast zone. Routes cover 33, 54 or 82 miles, with the longest one tackling 6,240 in elevation gain to fantastic views. Cost: $55.
Loreen Miller Bike Ride, June 19 – Ride 12-, 25-, 50- and 100-mile courses (also a 3-mile ride or walk option) based out of Mt. Spokane High School. Benefits cancer patient care. $50/$25.
Double Divide Ride, June 18-19 – Helena Bicycle Club’s annual double crossing of the Continental Divide, 83 miles the first day, 56 miles the second, plenty of food.
Ride the Wall, June 21 – About 150 riders of all ages celebrate the summer equinox in this 14th annual 13-mile evening ride along the Coeur d’Alene River, followed by a barbecue. Benefits Habitat for Humanity.
Chelan Century Challenge, June 25 – Join 500 riders on up to three loops ranging from 30-40 miles each past vineyards. Do the entire century ride and you’ll bag 8,600 vertical feet of elevation gain. Cost: $52/$37.
Bite the Bullet Tour, June 26 – From Lapwai, Idaho, near Lewiston, this is a loosely organized by the Twin Rivers Cyclists, semi-supported 68-mile ride with challenging climbs on the Winchester Grade.
Seattle to Portland (STP), July 9-10 – Ride 200 miles, fully supported. Largest of the region’s cycling events with 10,000 riders, sponsored by Group Health. Tight schedule? Ride all 200 miles in one day.
One Helena Hundred, July 16 – Scenic century along the Missouri River, sponsored by Helena Bicycle Club, with 62-mile option. Cost: $50/$25.
50 Miles at the Pass, July 23 – innaugural event at 4th of July Pass east of Coeur d’Alene. Gran Fondo format includes routes of 10, 17,35 and 50 miles. Benefit for Lake City Trailbuilder’s Association.
Info: bicycleservice.com/, (208) 667-8969.
Eight Lakes Bike Ride, Aug. 6 – Ride 15-, 30-, 45-, and 75-mile routes, starting from Spokane’s South Hill and out around lakes in Spokane County, with about 600 riders to benefit Sexual Assault and Family Trauma Response Center. Cost: $40.
Info: (509) 343-5020; lcsnw.org/
Le Tour de Koocanusa, based in Libby, Mont., Aug. 13 — 81 miles along the shoreline of Lake Koocanusa, the first year for this event by the David Thompson Search and Rescue. Coincides with the annual Riverfront Blues Festival.
Tour de Lentil metric century, Aug. 20 – Has three pit stops through rolling Palouse hills out of Pullman. Cost: $20.