The Tour de Lavender returned to Sequim over the weekend, bringing almost 850 riders to the trails and roads all around the area as cyclists rode from lavender farm to lavender farm in what organizers say has become one of the premier cycling events in western Washington.
Riders began their day at 7:30 a.m. at Sequim High School, and then filtered out along courses set for the Fun Ride and the Metric Century ride.
Stops along the route included Jardin du Soleil, Olympic Lavender Heritage Farm, Lavender Connection, B&B Family Farm, Victor’s Lavender Farm, Washington Lavender Farm, Martha Lane Lavender, Lost Mountain Lavender and Kitty B’s Lavender Farm, with the event coming to a close with a party at Purple Haze Organic Lavender Farm.
The Fun Ride was about 34 miles in all and set up to be fairly flat and doable for even beginner cyclists, even featuring alternate route options for those who felt they couldn’t bike that full distance. The Metric Century, clocking in at 62.5 miles, is more challenging, featuring less even paths and an elevation gain of more than 2,000 feet over the course of the ride.
The Tour de Lavender also fully supported those who prefer using motor-assisted bicycles, including hosting more than 100 riders from a group put together by electric bike manufacturer Pedego, and several other riders using bikes made by other electric bike companies.
‘“I love this bike, because it lets someone like me who’s not any kind of athlete enjoy a day like this,” said a Kirkland man, who used an electric bike with what he said was about a 50 mile range to complete the Fun Ride.
Those who can’t cycle for themselves were welcome to partake as well, with the Sequim Wheelers cycling organization bringing specially modified bicycles to the Olympic Lavender Heritage Farm and Washington Lavender Farm to give the eldery and the disabled the opportunity to enjoy the experience of cycling in an event like the Tour de Lavender.
“I think it’s important to get riders included who can’t normally participate in these events,” said Nicole Lepping, founder and president of the Sequim Wheelers.
Characterizing it as an “adaptive bike program,” Lepping is a major advocate to making things like the Tour or even just being able to simply enjoy a bike ride on a regular day accessible to those who may not think they’d ever be able to take part.
The Wheelers were participating in their second Tour de Lavender, and Lepping says that they’re hoping to expand their operations in the future to give more rides to those who want or need them.
In fact, thanks in part to the Wheelers, there was a 100 year age range among Tour de Lavender participants — 102-year-old Vern Frykholm, Sr., took a Sequim Wheelers ride from the Washington Lavender Farm Saturday afternoon. Tour organizer Ken Stringer said that the youngest rider on the day was just 2 years old, getting pulled in a cart attached to his father’s bicycle.
Learn more about the Sequim Wheelers at www.sequimwheelers.com.
Cyclists came from all over Washington to take part in the Tour de Lavender. People from Vancouver, B.C., Redmond, Seattle, Bellingham and Wenatchee all spoke with the Sequim Gazette over the course of the day about their experiences, as well as a handful of riders from Oregon.
“We’re starting to see people come from further and further away,” Stringer said. “It’s very exciting, and we’re going to start looking at putting together lodging packages next year because of it.
According to Stringer, the final tally of almost 850 riders is up significantly from the slightly over 500 riders they had a year ago, and the largest increase they’ve had yet both in numbers and percentage.
About 680 riders pre-registered, with the remainder signing up Saturday morning.
Proceeds from the event benefited organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula and the Peninsula Trails Coalition.
Stringer said that one of the reasons he was so excited about the growth of the Tour de Lavender was because it meant that they can do more to help these kinds of community organizations.
Checks were presented to the organizations at the after party at Purple Haze, which also featured well-received catered good and local band The Works performing.