The pedaling season is shifting into high as organizers gear up for mass bicycle tours throughout the Northwest.
Most of these tours are fundraisers that feature great food, with cyclists happily donating to charitable causes in return for the pampering of a well-oiled event.
Participation ranges from around 100 in the ChaFE 150 benefit ride out of Sandpoint up to 9,500 entrants for the Seattle to Portland ride.
Details from the 2008 STP help understand the universal dedication and appeal of bike touring events:
•7,073 rode the 200-miles in two-day, while 2,427 riders took the bigger challenge of riding the route in one day.
•Oldest rider: 86
•Youngest rider: 2 years (assisted, we assume)
•18 percent first-time riders
•310 riders who have participated in more than 10 STPs.
•44 states plus Australia, Canada, England and Serbia represented.
Some of the multiday rides are full of features, perhaps even portable showers and post-ride beer gardens.
A few popular tours have tight quotas that fill up months in advance.
Others are low-key with an emphasis on getting all sorts of people out on their bikes for a good time.
“We encourage advance registration, but if somebody gets up Sunday morning and wants to participate they can show up at Spokane Falls Community College even as late as 10 a.m. and be riding by 10:30,” said Bruce Johnson, spokesman for the annual Lilac Century Family Fun Ride.
Next weekend’s 16th annual event is sponsored by Aurora Northwest Rotary for a slate of projects to help underprivileged kids and families. The Rotarians staff food stops along the route and put on a post-ride baked potato feed. The event attracted 600 riders last year.
Too late for these
Several of the region’s popular premium bicycle tours are already booked with riders and registration is closed. Among them:
STOKR, the 98-mile Scenic Tour of the Kootenai River ( www.libbymt.com/events/stokr.htm ), a Habitat for Humanity fundraiser based out of Libby, Mont., is held the second weekend in May, but the 400-rider registration limit was reached during a mail-in lottery in early March.
RATPOD, the Ride Around the Pioneers in One Day ( www.ratpod.org ), a June 27 ride out of Dillon, Mont., has gained popularity from riders who love the scenery sans traffic of the Big Hole Valley.
Cyclists take on the killer elevation profile to raise money to help kids deal with a killer disease at Montana’s Camp Mak-A-Dream for cancer patients. The field was increased to 550 riders this year.
RAMROD (Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day, www.redmondcyclingclub.org ), 154 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing for 800 cyclists chosen by lottery in April.
Ride Around Washington (RAW), Aug. 2-8, limited to 215 riders: This year’s route follows the North Cascades Highway to Grand Coulee Dam, Wilbur and Kettle Falls.
The sponsoring Cascade Bicycle Club also manages several West Side rides during the year, including the winter “Chilly Hilly” and a June event bill as the “largest century in Washington.”
Check it out: www.cascade.org /
Cycle Oregon, Sept. 12-19: In early February, organizers announce the route, which changes each year for this high-quality weeklong tour to boost the economies of various rural Oregon communities. The tour quota of about 2,000 fills quickly.
Info: www.cycleoregon.com /
Tours still open
Many quality bike tours are still open to registration. Top events in the region include:
Lilac Century Family Fun Ride (formerly the Lilac Century Surprise), April 26: Ride 15, 25, 50, 66 or 100 miles starting at Spokane Falls Community College, with food stops. Sponsored by Aurora Northwest Rotary.
Info: www.northdivision.com /
Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s Bicycle Tour and Lunch, May 9: a new 10-mile ride starting at 9 a.m., ending at Enaville Resort for lunch, organized by Post Falls Parks and Recreation Dept.
Info: (208) 773-0539. Sign up by May 1.
Inland Empire Century, May 9: 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.
TOSRV-West, the Tour of the Swan River Valley based in Missoula – the granddaddy of the region’s big group rides founded in 1970 – May 30-31: The two-day ride has been scaled down from its heydays of 750 riders on a loop route to a tighter 300 riders covering either 85 or 110 miles each way.
Apple Century by Wenatchee Sunrise Rotary, June 6: Ride 50 or 100 miles starting from Walla Walla Point Park in Wenatchee; expect about 900 riders.
Info: www.applebikeride.com /
CHaFE 150 Bike Ride, June 13: a 147-mile loop with five food stops from Sandpoint, through Troy and Bonners Ferry and back (or choose the shorter 75-miler), benefits Panhandle Alliance for Education. Last year’s inaugural event attracted 68 riders. Date changed this year to avoid conflict with other major rides.
Ann Weatherill Cycling Classic, June 20: with 30-, 66-, and 100-mile routes near Walla Walla, includes food stop and post-ride wine and buffet. Benefits cycling safety.
Info: www.annweatherillcycling classic.blogspot.com/
Tour de Blast, June 20, attracts 1,400 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.
Ride the Wall, June 21: About 150 riders of all ages celebrate the summer equinox in this 15-mile evening ride along the Coeur d’Alene River, followed by a barbecue. Benefits Habitat for Humanity.
Seattle to Portland (STP), July 11-12: Ride 200 miles, fully supported. The largest of the region’s cycling events with 9,500 riders last year, sponsored by Group Health. Tight schedule? You can ride all 200 miles in one day.
Info: www.cascade.org .
Loreen Miller Bike Ride, July 26: with 12-, 50- and 100-mile courses based out of Mt. Spokane High School. Benefits cancer patient care.
Tour de Lentil metric century, Aug. 22, has three pit stops through the rolling Palouse hills based out of Pullman.
Eight Lakes Leg Aches, Aug. 1: Ride 30-, 45-, and 75-mile routes around lakes in Spokane County with about 600 riders to benefit Sexual Assault and Family Trauma Response Center.
Info: (509) 343-5020; www.lcsnw.org .
Tour de Coeur, Aug. 30: Ride easy route on Centennial Trail or 33/66 mile loops with doozie climbs along Lake Coeur d’Alene, for American Cancer Society.
Info: www.acsidaho.org .
Spokefest, Sept. 13, attracted 1,200 riders in its inaugural event last year; a family event with rides starting at 1 mile in Riverfront Park to 21 miles through Riverside State Park. Music at finish.
Tour de Lacs, Sept. 19-20: Various routes range from 40-122 miles over one or two days from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene area and back. Some routes include the Centennial Trail and party-boat cruises on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Info: www.roundandround.com .
Dam2Dam, Sept. 26: routes of 25, 50 and 100 miles between Rocky Reach and Wells Dams, based out of Lincoln Rock State Park in Wenatchee, includes food stops and finish barbecue. Pledge-raising required for paralysis research.
Manastash Metric Century, Oct. 3, with a 50K option in a ride along the Yakima River from Ellensburg to Cle Elum and back.