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 the maximum 230 in the Ride Around Washington, which is set in northeastern Washington this year, to a cap of 10,000 entrants for the annual Seattle to Portland (STP) ride.
Details from the 2009 STP help describe the universal dedication and appeal of bike touring events:
•9,999 riders (72 percent male, 28 percent female) set out to ride the 200-miles in one or two days;
•Oldest rider – 87;
•Youngest rider – 2 years (assisted, we assume);
•18 percent first-time riders;
•321 riders who have participated in more than 10 STPs;
•44 states plus Australia, Bermuda, Canada, England, Puerto Rico and Sweden represented.
Some of this season’s 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 events are low-key with an emphasis on getting all sorts of people out on their bikes for a good time.
Although they encourage advance registration by April 21, Spokane organizers of the April 25 Lilac Century Family Fun Ride try to keep it accessible, often accommodating people who wake up the morning of the ride and decide they want to participate.
This year’s 17th annual event is sponsored by Aurora Northwest Rotary to help fund a slate of projects for 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 attracted 625 riders last year.
While quotas are reached and registration is closed for some of the region’s most popular tours, many quality bike events are still open to registration.
Top events in the region through August are listed below. Costs are included unless the ride has a range of fees or offers discounts for youths or families. (Another story will run this summer rounding up the long list of quality rides being organized for September and October).
RAMROD, the Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day, July 29: a challenging 154 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing for 800 cyclists. Applications are accepted through March 31 for the lottery to determine participants. Cost: $80. Drawing will be April 12.
Lilac Century and Family Fun Ride, April 25: Ride 15, 25, 50, 66 or 100 miles starting at Spokane Falls Community College, with food stops. Sponsored by Aurora Northwest Rotary.
Info: 466-6756; www.active.com/
Inland Empire Century, May 8: 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 22-23: 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. Cost: $105.
Apple Century by Wenatchee Sunrise Rotary, June 5: Ride 50 or 100 miles starting from Walla Walla Point Park in Wenatchee; about 900 riders. Cost: $55.
CHaFE 150 Bike Ride, June 12: 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.
Ann Weatherill Cycling Classic, June 19 (date and details not yet confirmed for this year): 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 19, 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. Cost: $65.
Loreen Miller Bike Ride, June 20: with 12-, 50- and 100-mile courses based out of Mt. Spokane High School. Benefits cancer patient care.
Ride the Wall, June 21: About 150 riders of all ages celebrate the summer equinox in this 13-mile evening ride along the Coeur d’Alene River, followed by a barbecue. Benefits Habitat for Humanity.
Info: www.hfhidaho.org/ bike_event.htm#bike
Tour de Chelan, June 26: choose from a 35-mile vineyards tour or a century ride with 8,606 vertical feet of elevation gain.
BlueCruise Ride, July 10: has courses of 15, 35 and 62 miles on the Centennial Trail starting in Coeur d’Alene, a benefit for the Idaho portion of the Centennial Trail. Cost: $25-$35.
Seattle to Portland (STP), July 17-18: Ride 200 miles, fully supported. The largest of the region’s cycling events with up to 10,000 riders, sponsored by Group Health. Tight schedule? You can ride all 200 miles in one day.
Tour de Lentil metric century, Aug. 21: has three pit stops through the rolling Palouse hills based out of Pullman. Cost: $20.
Eight Lakes Bike Ride, Aug. 7: 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 during the 12th annual event to benefit Sexual Assault and Family Trauma Response Center. Cost: $35.
Info: (509) 343-5020; www.lcsnw.org/
Several bicycling events held in previous years have been cancelled this year. Among them:
Beacon Hill Blowout Downhill. Info: www.bicyclebutler.com/
Tour de Coeur on Centennial Trail for American Cancer Society.
Dam2Dam out of Wenatchee. Info: www.mikeutley.org/