For most people, riding a bike 150 miles in two days probably seems a bit unrealistic.
But not for 53-year-old Jeffrey Castle, a Gig Harbor resident who will be riding in his second Obliteride race Aug. 8 and 9. Obliteride is an annual bike ride focused on funding cancer research at Fred Hutch. The route starts in Bainbridge Island, goes through Gig Harbor and ends in Tacoma for the first day. On the second day, the route goes from Tacoma to Seattle.
Castle, an enterprise architect at Russell Investments, raised $2,000 last year for cancer research with the help from friends, family and his company. He has the same goal this year.
“I love to ride, this is just another chance to ride,” Castle said. “The more I got into it, through the ride I found out more about Fred Hutch and some of the amazing, cutting edge research and solutions they’re coming up with. Then it kind of hit home.”
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Castle rides in honor of cancer victims, his father-in-law Chuck Berry and his friend Mary Lou; for cancer survivors, his brother Greg and colleagues Don and Tammy; and for his friend Aran, currently battling multiple cancers.
“Whatever I can do to help,” Castle said. “I’m a Christian man and I think the Holy Spirit put it in my heart. It’s very compelling. I think anybody that gets exposed to it, it’s very compelling. It’s the best supported ride I’ve ever been. They get a lot of community support and support from businesses.”
Some of that support includes delicious food at all of the stops throughout the ride. While a lot of races just give out Cliff bars, Castle said the food on the Obliteride is top-notch.
“The food is just amazing,” he said. “It’s just awesome. They have great sandwiches, that kind of thing. There’s tons of volunteers to cheer you on at every stop.”
There are a couple stops in Gig Harbor — one in Purdy and another near the driving range, right before the Tacoma Narrows bridges. Once riders get to the University of Puget Sound to finish the day, there’s a huge feast and party awaiting them.
Castle has been biking his whole life, but got more serious about it in 2009 to lose weight. Now he’s healthy and fit and is enjoying all the rides he participates in. He’ll be challenged by the Obliteride, especially on the second day, where there’s 4,419 feet of elevation change.
“The second-third, you’re climbing up,” he said. “Then back up, then drop back down. You go up and down like six or eight times. That’s pretty challenging. I make a point not to walk up a hill, but I’ll stop and get a breather every once in a while.”
Castle said he enjoys the shared experience with all the riders and volunteers.
“I really enjoy the camaraderie and the experience,” he said.
As long as he can ride, Castle plans to keep going.
“I want to do it when I’m 70 and older,” he said.
Those who wish to donate toward Castle’s goal of $2,000 can do so by finding him on the Fred Hutch Obliteride website.