Cycling Around: The Year in Review

  • Wednesday, December 19, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

We’re coming to the close of what — for cycling and cyclists in Sequim and all over the Olympic Peninsula — has been a banner year.

Way back in February we saw the first “Disco Bay Mixer,” a mixed-surface ride that started in downtown Sequim at the Rainshadow Café, followed the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) east to Blyn. We then headed up into the backcountry on gravel forest service roads and single-track mountain bike trails above Discovery Bay before dropping back down to the ODT and winding back west to finish in downtown Sequim at the Peninsula Tap Room. For many reasons it turned out to be an epic ride and hopefully we’ll see the second “Mixer” starting the 2019 cycling “season” locally.

On May 5, Sequim saw its first ever “Bike Rodeo.” Sponsored by the Olympic Peninsula Bicycle Alliance (OPBA), the event gave community kids from kindergarten through fifth grade the chance to “get off their training wheels” and to learn and practice essential safe cycling skills in order to become better, more confident, more responsible cyclists. More than 50 volunteers supported the event providing help and guidance at nine different stations. Helmets and bikes were given out to kids who needed them for the event and many went home with a helmet or bike of their own thanks to donations from various sources, including Around Again and the Port Townsend Recyclery. It was a resounding success and OPBA plans to hold the second-annual Bike Rodeo next year.

The 2018 Tour de Lavender (TdL) drew more than 500 cyclists to Sequim — the largest number ever to ride in what is becoming the Olympic Peninsula’s premier cycling event for riders of any age or ability. With 10 lavender farms to visit, a great after-ride celebration party, the exceptional beauty of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley—the lovely fragrance of lavender gracing each stop—and the warm hospitality of the farmers and their staff, it was yet another “TdL” to remember.

The core volunteer ethic of our community was on display at the Tour de Lavender as well: 70 dedicated volunteers donated more than 1,000 hours help to plan, organize and run the event. Key partnerships with each of the participating farms, the City of Sequim, the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, Boys & Girls Club, Ben’s Bikes, Brokers Realty Group, Safeway, Lagunitas Brewing, Grocery Outlet, Domino’s Pizza, Rainshadow Cafe and Rainshadow Coffee Roasters (among others) were also instrumental in making the event a rousing success. As is the case each year, TdL registration fees went to support local nonprofit organizations. Planning is already underway for the 2019 Tour de Lavender, which will take place on Aug. 3.

OPBA itself had a great year as well. Membership increased by more than 50 percent. Six members were elected to the Board of Directors, bringing the total number of directors to 11, significantly increasing the organization’s ability to expand its activities and advocacy programs. For example, OPBA has now formally assumed all responsibility for planning, organizing and conducting the Tour de Lavender.

2018 witnessed the continued growth and evolution of Sequim’s cycling community, and exciting new developments in cycling-related businesses. Ben’s Bikes, a long-time staple providing sale and rental bikes in Sequim, is set to expand its physical store yet again and is developing a dynamic new online presence with a new website and online sales. Ben’s is all about selling comfort on the bike—cycling doesn’t have to be anything less! Pedego Sequim — “Hello, Fun!” — opened for business this fall, selling electric bikes, and owner Garth Schmeck brings a unique combination of experience as a cyclist, business owner and cycling coach and trainer to the community—opening all sorts of new opportunities.

On a personal note: As President of OPBA, I want to thank my fellow board members for their extraordinary service over the past two years: vice president Tom Coonelly, secretary Sherri Smith, treasurer Tom Guobis, and members of the board Randy Barber and Buck Giles. I’d also like to welcome our new board members and thank them for stepping up to help: Nick Batcheller, Scott Chichester, Frank Finney, Nick Rampp and Garth Schmeck. Last but far from least, to all our OPBA members, without whose support we could not have accomplished what we have: Thank you all — you rock (as well as roll)!

It’s been a fantastic year, 2018! And our community is poised to make 2019 even better!

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

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