Tour de Whatcom
Four routes, endless views
What: Tour de Whatcom
When: 7 am Sat., Jul. 20
Where: Boundary Bay Brewery, 1107 Railroad Ave.
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
“Is the Tour de Whatcom a race or a ride?” is the first FAQ query on the website promoting the outing happening Sat., Jul 20, and the distinction is an important one for those contemplating whether they want to don a helmet and hop on their two-wheeled conveyance to take part.
“The Tour de Whatcom is a bicycle ride and although the course is marked, the START/FINISH line is the only street along the route that is completely shut down,” Whatcom Events explains. “Riders are expected to obey the rules of the road and observe stop signs and signals along the route.”
It makes sense that thoroughfares wouldn’t shut down for the event, being that the four routes—which are comprised of 22-, 44-, 62-, and 100-mile tours—comprise much of the county for which the event is named. (And as far as I know, it’s impossible to shut down a slab of land that size unless its populace is under some sort of quarantine.)
Other things to know about the 14th annual Tour de Whatcom is that the action starts at finishes at Boundary Bay Brewery, both youth and adults can register, the speed of the riders varies from approximately 8mph to 21mph, there will be tech support, and the courses are well-marked.
What the FAQ doesn’t mention is that by participating in the ride, you’ll encounter everything that makes Whatcom County so beloved—from Mt. Baker to Lake Whatcom to the verdant valleys, rushing rivers, lush farmland and waterfront beaches that comprise our northern corner of the United States. It’s a stunning way to engage with the environment, whether you’re a beginning rider wearing a T-shirt and shorts or an avid cyclist who prefers to suit up in spandex.
“No matter what the participant’s skill level, the ride ensures beautiful sights and lots of fun for everyone at each of our five rest stops,” organizers say. “Each themed rest stop will be equipped with snacks, water and fruit. All rest stops are run by volunteers with proceeds benefiting local organizations and charities.”
This is probably an apt time to point out the Tour de Whatcom is touted as a charity bike ride, and the beneficiary of a portion of this year’s proceeds will be Incite! Cycles, a local nonprofit that umbrellas bicycle events such as Cascade Cross (a fall and winter cyclocross series) and Bellingham Grind Corps (a gravel grinding series taking place in the spring and summer). They also support partners such as Bellingham Bike Polo and Queens of Dirt, and are committed to enriching the cycling scene by engaging with both emerging and established events.
You’ll pay an extra $10 if you wait to register on the day of the big event, but if you reckon that proceeds will ultimately benefit other bicycling enthusiasts, it seems like you’re coming out ahead.
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