With gas prices still rocketing upward, bike month couldn't have come at a better time.
“It’s definitely an extra incentive to get on your bike,” said Meg Kester, a spokesman for Intercity Transits’ Bicycle Commuter Contest.
Olympia’s 24-year-old contest designed to inspire people to drive less and bike more had one of its best years in 2008, the last time gas prices climbed over $4 per gallon. In ’08, 1,488 participants logged a record 104,000 miles.
That record could fall this month but gas prices won’t be the only reason people bike more. May is loaded with events designed to inspire people to bike, including Pierce Transit’s own cycling contest for Pierce County residents.
Among the events are a series of short and easy rides sponsored by the Tacoma Wheelmen designed to pique kids’ interest in cycling.
“The kids’ rides haven’t been done before,” said ride leader Bob Myrick, “so I’m hoping we get enough interest to turn out some families.”
Here’s a closer look at the bike month around the South Sound:
RIDES FOR KIDS
The Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle Club and the Tacoma Mountaineers are cosponsoring rides for children. Myrick says it wasn’t hard to get the Point Defiance Zoo involved in the new kid ride program. Zoo director Gary Geddes is an avid cyclist who has biked to Indiana and Montana, Myrick said.
For more information about the kids rides, call Myrick at 253-473-7455.
May 8: 2 p.m. This two- to four-mile ride starts at the Tacoma Bike Shop, 309 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, and travels along the Thea Foss Waterway. Participants are asked not to park in front of the store.
May 15: 2 p.m. The two- to four-mile ride starts at the North Parking lot at Chamber’s Creek in University Place and will take place on the flat sections of the paved Chamber’s Creek Trail.
May 21: 10 a.m. The second “Ride for Polar Bears” is a 20-mile ride on quiet roads and the Scott Pierson Trail to the Point Defiance Zoo. The ride begins at the Metro Parks Headquarters, 4702 S. 19th St., Tacoma. The ride’s purpose is to raise awareness of climate change.
May 22: 2 p.m. This ride starts at the McMillin Trailhead and will follow the Foothills Trail toward Orting. The ride is five miles but can be extended up to 30 miles without leaving the trail.
May 28: 10 a.m. Like its longer counterpart, the five-mile “Ride for Penguins” is designed to inspire kids to ride bikes and learn about global warming. The ride starts at the Point Defiance Zoo and follows Five Mile Drive through the park. Most of the road is closed to car traffic before 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The route is hilly enough to be challenging for kids.
The BCC: Intercity Transit’s BCC is open to people who work or live in Thurston County and offers numerous prizes. The entry fee is $5 and all participants receive a packet of coupons.
“We like to say that everybody is a winner,” said Duncan Green of Intercity Transit.
Green says registration is open until Friday.
Since Intercity Transit took over management of the BCC in 2006, Kester says the company estimates the contest has resulted in decreasing carbon dioxide emissions by 443,736 pounds (one pound for every mile of cycling.)
Kester says cyclists should only log miles for commuting and running errands. Sorry, your 100-mile Saturday morning recreational rides don’t count. Sign up at intercitytransit.com.
The Commuter Challenge: Pierce Transit’s contest will enter anybody who bikes to work five or more days into a drawing for prizes. The contest is also sponsored by REI. Sign up at piercetrips.com.
BIKE TO WORK DAY
May 20 is National Bike to Work Day. Bike Clubs and transportation agencies are encouraging people to ditch their cars and bike to work and let their kids bike to school instead of taking the bus.
If you need a place to pedal to on your lunch break, Pierce Transit is holding a Bike Commuter Fashion Show from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Broadway in Tacoma between South Ninth and 11th streets. Contact email@example.com for information.
Those interested in taking their cycling beyond commuting can participate in the training series sponsored by the Tacoma Wheelmen. The series is designed to get riders ready for a 100-mile ride. While you can join in the training in May, Myrick said, be aware that the program started in March. The next ride is a 47.35-mile ride across Vashon Island on May 7. Visit twbc.org for more information.
FREE FLAT REPAIR
Tacoma Bike, 309 Puyallup Ave., is offering free flat repairs – including labor and tubes – all month.
“Yeah we’re kind of insane,” said Tacoma Bike owner Mike Brown. He’s ordered 10,000 tubes. “Hopefully we’ll be able to help fix a few bikes for people.”
Tacoma Bike also rents hybrids and electric assist bikes starting at $35 per day ($50 per day for road bikes).
Women’s bike class: 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday. Playback Sports, 1306 N. I St., Tacoma, is hosting a maintenance class specifically for women.
Bike to Opening Day: 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday. The MultiCare Mary Bridge Center for Childhood Safety will offer $7 bike helmets and free fittings at the Tacoma Farmers Market, on Broadway between South Ninth and 11th streets.
Movie Night: May 12. If you’re 21 or older, catch a free screening of “Rad” at The Red Hot, 2914 Sixth Ave., Tacoma.
Bike to a Better Tacoma: May 16. City of Tacoma and cyclists will gather at the Hub, 203 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma, for a free slice of pizza, valet bike parking and discussion about improving cycling in the city.
Ride of Silence: 7 p.m. May 18. Thousands of riders around the world will take a slow (no faster than 12 mph), quiet ride to honor those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roads. For information visit rideofsilence.org.
Zeit Bike: Bike Racket: May 19. The Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave., will show bike rack art by Jennifer Weddermann-Hay. Free.
May Day Metric: Today. You can find routes from 50 to 104 miles at this ride, which starts at Phil’s South Side Cyclery, 2310 SW 336th St., Federal Way. The ride costs $25 and is fully supported, including a slice of pie for all finishers. Visit maydaymetric.net for information.
Club rides: Between the Capital, Tacoma Wheelmen and Harmon bicycle clubs you can find a ride almost every day in May (and through the end of the summer for that matter). The Wheelmen’s most popular ride is its Monday ride from the Starbucks at North 26th and Proctor, Myrick said. For information visit capitalbicycleclub.org, Twbc.org or the Harmon Bike Club’s page on Facebook.
Women’s rides: Tacoma Bike plans to start women-only rides on Thursday nights in May. For more information visit tacomabike.com
Races: Even if you don’t want to race, local racing events are a spectacle worth taking in. The Mutual of Enumclaw Stage Race is May 20-22 and includes a time trial, a criterium and a road race. The May 21 criterium is the most spectator-friendly of the races. There will be $10,000 in prices and merchandise. Visit mutualofenumclaw.com/stagerace for information. A Northwest Cup mountain bike race will be at Dry Hill in Port Angeles May 13-15. Visit nwcup.com for more information.
Craig Hill’s fitness column runs Sundays in The News Tribune and The Olympian. Please submit questions and comments via craig.hill@ thenewstribune.com, facebook.com/adventureguys, facebook.com/adventureguys.