As participants of the 2009 SpokeFest sped toward the finish line, organizer Bill Bender high-fived happy bicyclists who told him it was a great ride.
It was the second year for the event, which drew more than 1,600 participants Sunday, up from 1,200 last year.
The idea for SpokeFest came about when Bender joined Spokane’s Bicycle Advisory Board.
“We talked about how to get people more involved in bike riding,” he said, and the idea for a major community bike ride grew out of those conversations.
“We need a bike version, a cycling version of Bloomsday and Hoopfest,” said Chris Siemens, one of the directors of the event.
Cyclists chose between a 21-mile route that started in downtown Spokane, went through Riverside State Park and ended back downtown on Post Street in front of City Hall; and a one-mile course that beginners or less-experienced riders could take as many times as they liked through Riverfront Park.
Cyclist Tim Kenagy, a first-time participant, said he learned about the event Saturday night and showed up Sunday morning with his 2-year-old son, Zach, riding in a child seat on the back.
“I bet I’d be really fast if I went alone,” he joked.
Kenagy said that Zach always rides with him when he rides his bike once or twice a weekend.
“Everyone loves getting passed by a 2-year-old,” he said.
Warren Walker, another first-time participant, said he saw an advertisement for the event at a local bike shop and went online to register. He said it was nice to have the roads closed to ride and was impressed with how clean the trail was at Riverside State Park.
“I’m going to be back every year,” Walker said.
The pool of food vendors also grew this year to include Flatbread Pizza Company, David’s Pizza, Taco Del Sol and the Scoop – “just to get a local flavor of the community,” Siemens said.
The event also received help from the Spokane Police Department, which blocked off sections of the course. Last year police offered an escort for the first half-mile.
More than 40 volunteers set up for the event starting at 4 a.m. Sunday, Siemens said.
Ride participant OtisGExperience posted this timelapse video of the 21-mile SpokeFest ride.