Sports

Bikers gearing up for 155-mile challenge

It’s not the Tour de France and it’s not quite the Tour de Kitsap but the RAPSody Ride will definitely have that kind of feel to it.

And while its not a race, hundreds of cyclists will be streaming through Port Orchard and Manchester Aug. 29 on the last legs of the 155-mile, two-day bike ride to benefit Bike Alliance of Washington.

“Lance Armstrong has a lot to do with this in a sense,” Jill Priest, treasury of the West Sound Cycling Club said. “His success has a lot more people out on their bikes.”

As of Aug. 13, more than 450 people had signed up for the RAPSody and more are expected.

The ride is the first of its kind in Kitsap County and is the brainchild of five area cycling clubs. Those that are in part sponsoring the event include West Sound Cycling, Capital Bicycling Club of Olympia, Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle Club, Seattle Bicycle Club and BIKES of Everett.

“We were starting to get together as clubs and we started talking about doing a ride,” Priest said. “The five us us got together and decided we needed to do something.”

What they came up with is a two-day excursion that begins and ends at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma. In between, cyclists will travel through Olympia, Shelton, where they will spend the night, up through Belfair and Port Orchard and over to Manchester before catching a ferry to Vashon Island and then back to Tacoma.

“This is one of the major routes for cycling in the northwest,” Priest said. “It was great, I rode it two weeks ago. It was magnificent.

“The route is so scenic, it’s one of the most beautiful ones,” Priest said. “In fact, the second day is probably one of the most beautiful routes you’ll ever see. You come up out of Lake Flora Road and there you have that huge Mount Rainier pictured right there. It’s gorgeous.”

The ride, which is open to all skill levels, will see some groups make the trip in one day while others will spend the night at Shelton High School, getting fed and entertained by members of the Shelton wrestling team and marching band.

Day one has the riders leaving the Tacoma Dome and cycling through Olympia to Shelton with three rest stops along the way.

The second day will see the group leave Shelton and come through Port Orchard, catching Bay Street off of Highway 16 and coming downtown. The route will take the cyclists to Beach Drive and around to Manchester for a rest stop before stopping at Southworth for another break and then heading off to Vashon Island and the final leg of the route.

“We are really looking forward to it,” Priest said.

And Bike Alliance will be benefitting the most as all profits from the ride go back into cycling in Washington.

“There will be some financial gain for Bike Alliance but not for the clubs,” Priest said. “There never will be. This is to help Bike Alliance of Washington do the programs that they have set up.”

Those include widening streets, building and maintaining trials across the state and educating the public about bike riding.

As of now, $38 of the $75 entry fee is going to cover expenses for the ride, everything from food to bike supplies to renting Shelton High School.

“The rest of (the money) will be pure profit for Bike Alliance,” Priest said.

And she and the other clubs are hoping this will be the first of many rides in the county.

“We want this in the future to be a fundraiser for the communities it goes through,” Priest said. “We’d like to see it grow.”

Priest said some local businesses have asked to set up shop along the routes rest stops to sell drinks and snacks. Priest said she’s like to see more of that in future.

Priest also said the route could change in the future but for now, it will stay like it is.

“We could move it around the Sound and cover more but boy does that take a lot of effort,” Priest said. “We might leave it (unchanged) next year and then change it later.”

Besides the RAPSody, West Sound Cycling also sponsors shorter rides around the county. The club also has educational classes on bike riding and meets once a month in Silverdale. For more information on the RAPSody ride or West Sound Cycling check out www.rapsodyride.org or www.westsoundsysling.com

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