Cycling Around: Spring shows up

  • Wednesday, April 10, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

Warming temperatures and more sunshine are ideal conditions for the emergence of spring cyclists. This year, especially as spring seems to have arrived with a vengeance here in our little corner of the country, looks to be a very good one indeed to see this annual spectacle.

If you’re only interested in watching, you don’t have to go far or carry lots of gear to see the cyclists emerging — just venture down to the roadside or stroll along the Olympic Discovery Trail.

The best way to experience this wonder of nature, however, is up close and personal — getting out in areas where they’re known to congregate and joining the group. This is a lot easier than you might think and far more rewarding than observing them on the Discovery Channel.

Get active, get riding

If you have an actual bike stashed away somewhere, haul it out, dust it off, have it checked to make sure it’s still safe and reliable mechanically, and … start riding! Even if the only bike you have is the one stored in your memory bank, all you need to do is visit your local bike shop where you’ll find folks who know how to remedy that situation quickly and equip you properly.

Now it’s important to remember that joining a “pelote” (the Latin term used by bikologists to describe a bunch of cyclists; a peloton is term cyclists use — it’s a ton of cyclists) you have to be willing to take certain risks:

• You may find yourself enjoying cycling far more than you intended.

• You could end up spending more time on your bike.

• You are likely to find your physical health and mental well-being improving (this is a well-documented side-effect of cycling).

Regardless of whether you just want to be a sideline spectator or get right in the middle of all the fun, here’s what you’ll see as the spring cyclists emerge.

More cyclists out on the roads and trails will shed their winter gear. The result is an explosion of brilliant color as jerseys from all sorts of events, tours and past races emerge.

Large groups of cyclists also are more common and can be observed (or joined) as they migrate between the valley and higher elevations along established roads and trails.

The emerging spring cyclist is often a bit heavier and moves more slowly, even after shedding multiple layers, thick gloves, balaclavas and face masks, shoe covers, helmet covers, waterproof outer skins and other things essential to winter cycling survival. This is largely a matter of metabolism that, in most cases, slows dramatically during periods of extended darkness but then accelerates rapidly as the days grow longer, affording the cyclist more time to ride and regain strength, endurance and speed.

Cyclists of all kinds are known to be a very social species, but the spring cyclists are particularly gregarious, welcoming into their midst anyone else displaying colorful exteriors and being propelled by their own power on two (or three) wheels.

Local bikologists note that e-bike (bikes assisted by small, electronic motors) cyclists have begun to appear in greater numbers. This is part of a much broader phenomenon. Distinguishing them from others in the species can be difficult, however, because of how they blend in with, and are accepted by, the general cyclist population.

With this background information you’ll at least be a more knowledgeable observer of the spring cyclists in the area. But it also will, hopefully, encourage you to go further — to take the plunge, join a ride (or two … or more).

The wheel world

Beyond the spectacle of the emerging spring cyclist spectacle, there’s a lot more happening in our local cycling world.

The 2019 Tour de Dung(eness) took place in early March and, for the second year in a row, had perfect weather. Local junior Liam Barber, now riding for team Hagens Berman, was headed for a win on March 9 when two riders in front on the final lead-out to the finish locked handlebars and went down, causing a huge pile up. Liam and a dozen or so others went down. He came back strong the next week, though, breaking into a top-10 finish in his category and taking first place in his age bracket. Congrats Liam!

And thanks to all the locals who filled volunteer support slots as well as the spectators cheering on the racers.

May is national “Bike Everywhere” month and there will be lots of opportunities for area cyclists to do just that. As I mentioned last time, one of the key activities is the second annual OPBA Bike Rodeo in Sequim where kids from ages 5-12 can become better, safer cyclists while having fun as they roll through a special training course in the Helen Haller Elementary School parking lot on May 18.

But there’ll be lots more for kids of all ages to do during the month. The Farmers Market will have a Bike Event Day and there will be some special group rides. Rainshadow Coffee and the Olympic Peninsula Bicycle Alliance will hold a“Bike Swap” where you can find all sorts of bargains on bikes and cycling gear.

In the next few weeks, those events will be publicized here in the Gazette as well as social media and flyers and posters around town.

Meanwhile, you can plan your own DIY activities for Bike Everywhere Month.

Take your bike downtown on a Saturday morning to visit your favorite coffee shop or the Farmers Market. Make date-night with your significant other a cycling excursion. Set an individual goal for how many miles to log during the entire month — or have an informal competition with some friends to see who rides the most.

With the warm weather and sunny skies of April, May and the ensuing months of summer here in the “Blue Hole,” it’s a great time to be out riding your bike! So why are you still reading this column? Get your helmet, get your bike and go have fun cycling around!

See you down the ride! Stay safe out there!

Ken Stringer is president of the Olympic Peninsula Bicycle Alliance. Cycling Around is a monthly column focused on cycling in Sequim and the surrounding area. For more information, go to www.olympicpeninsulacycling.com or contact the author at opcycling@gmail.com.

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