Daffodil Classic bike ride turns 40

Pierce County’s oldest bicycle ride is over the hill, which is precisely what participants will be trying to achieve Sunday (April 19) on the roads and paved trails around Orting, Eatonville and Buckley.

As usual, there will be cake at the finish line of the 40th Daffodil Classic. Finishers have long received a serving of strawberry shortcake at the finish line at Orting Middle School.

The Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle Club stages the ride each spring to correspond with Puyallup’s annual Daffodil Festival. Since the first ride in 1976, it’s earned a reputation as a scenic tour of east Pierce County.

In those first years, the event was lucky to draw 200 riders. Four decades later, when the weather is good — as the forecast predicts it will be — the Daffodil Classic draws more than 1,100 riders.

Most participants wait until the last minute to register, scoping out the weather forecast first, club officials have said.

Registration is open 7 a.m.-noon Sunday at Orting Middle School, 111 Whitehawk Blvd. NW, Orting. Registration is $45 ($40 for TWBC members) and includes access to the food stops, a cue sheet, support vehicles and strawberry shortcake.

The ride has a laid-back atmosphere. It’s not a race, but it’s not particularly flat.

Riders can choose a 41-mile loop that visits Buckley and Bonney Lake or a 61-mile loop that takes a circuitous trip to Eatonville. Either way participants will have to climb out of the valley. Riders will also find steep descents on the course, and the club urges all riders to “please use caution.”

The short loop has 1,617 feet of elevation gain, and the longer loop has 2,638 feet. Some riders combine both loops for a 104-mile tour.

Helmets and good riding etiquette are required.

Those with kids looking for something a little less challenging can stick to the Foothills Trail for a ride of up to 30 miles.

The course closes at 5 p.m.

Proceeds from the ride go to Washington Bikes (formerly called the Bicycle Alliance of Washington), bicycle education programs and Kidical Mass (bike rides for families with kids). Leftover food is donated to local food banks.

For more information on the ride, visit twbc.org.

The ride is one of two staged by the Tacoma club each year. Its Peninsula Metric Century ride, with hilly 36-, 67- and 100-mile options, is June 7.