Gear up now for bike month

You don’t need a reason to go for a bike ride, but for those who want one anyway, there will be plenty during National Bike Month.

Each year, South Sound bike lovers pack May with a few more reasons to ride than the year before.

There are group rides, commuter challenges, costumed rides and bike events at museums, bars and churches.

“It’s the perfect time to get the bike out of the garage and see how it feels,” said Diane Wiatr, active transportation coordinator for the City of Tacoma. “Instead of taking short trips in cars, do it on a bike instead. It’s quicker than you think and more fun.”

Here are some reasons to ride this month:


Both Pierce and Thurston counties will hold bicycle commuter challenge events in May.

Enter the Pierce Transit competition as a team or an individual and log at least five trips in May for a chance to win prizes including Amtrak tickets.

Thurston County’s Intercity Transit competition is similar, but requires a $5 entry fee unless participants are 18 years old or younger or are students.

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One of the reasons the South Sound is loaded with opportunities to ride is bike clubs. There’s something for everybody. There are the longstanding Capital and Tacoma Wheelmen’s bicycle clubs, which cater to a wide range of recreational riders. Between the two clubs, you can find a ride almost every day in May (and the rest of the spring and summer).

Velofemmes is less than a year old and focuses on removing barriers for women in the sport.

Just want pointers for bike commuting? Tacoma’s “Downtown: On the Go” offers a Bike Buddy program. Simply email the program, and they’ll hook you up with a bike commuting veteran who’ll take you out for a practice ride.

Most South Sound bike shops offer group rides from their stores.

Want something hard-core? There are groups for that, too. Puyallup Cyclopaths finds their joy suffering on the steepest and longest hills in the Northwest.

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Thursday(((May 1))) is the opening day of Broadway Farmers Market, and visitors are encouraged to arrive by bike. The first 50 people who show their bike helmets get a token good for a $2 discount. Discounted bike helmets will be on sale, and experts will be available to help plan bike routes.

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At 9 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month, Friends of Capitol Forest host a work party to maintain the trails in the state forest.

The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance also organizes work parties and builds new trail systems around the state. Its latest project is a series of trails and features at Tacoma’s Swan Creek Park.

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A tradition that started in New York comes to Tacoma’s Urban Grace Church on Friday. The Blessing of the Bikes is an interdenominational service where various religious leaders bless bikes and other forms of wheeled transportation. A continental breakfast starts at 7:30 a.m. and the service is at 8.

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In its sixth year, the Tacoma Bike Swap turns the University of Puget Sound Memorial Fieldhouse into a place to buy and sell used bikes. This year’s event is Saturday 10 a.m.-2-p.m.

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Once upon a time, there was a bike ride from Federal Way to Mount Rainier National Park called the May Day Metric. It was rarely on May Day and didn’t have a metric route so the organizers changed the name to the May Day Classic. “We … are tired of people asking, ‘Why is it called Metric?’ ” ride organizer Phil Meyer said.

This year’s ride is May 4 and since it started in 2002 it has raised approximately $20,000 for Washington Bikes (the recently renamed Bicycle Alliance of Washington) and $5,000 for the Orting Food Bank.

The 50-, 72- and 102-mile routes start at Phil’s Bike Shop in Federal Way, where finishers get a slice pie when they return. The entry fee increases from $25 to $30 on Monday.

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The League of American Cyclists proclaims Bike to Work Day, May 16 this year, as “the biggest day of (bike) month.” May 12-16 is Bike to Work Week, and May 7 is designated Bike to School Day.

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“Inky Spokes,” a bike-themed art exhibit, shows at the Tacoma Art Museum in May.

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Starting from Chehalis’ Stan Hedwall Park, this Mother’s Day weekend tradition offers loops of 20, 48, 68 and 100 miles and views of Mounts Adams, St. Helens and Rainier. The entry fee for the May 10 ride is $35 per person or $40 for a family.

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Break out your “turn-of-the-century attire” (turn of 19th century, that is) and hop on your bike for a casual ride along Tacoma’s first trolley car route. The May 10 ride starts at 10 a.m. at the Point Defiance Park pagoda and ends at the UW Tacoma campus and pays homage to the City of Destiny’s transportation history.

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Each Mother’s Day, CycloFemme rides are staged around the world to honor women. This year, there will be rides in 16 countries and 39 states. Tacoma’s VeloFemmes host one of four Washington rides at noon May 11 starting at the Spar, 2121 N. 30th St., Tacoma A leisurely ride along the waterfront is planned.

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Local cycling advocate Matt Newport started hosting Kidical Mass family rides last year and they’ve proven to be a hit. The kids-first rides are short, slow and end with a snack. The bike month Kidical Mass ride leaves Peoples Park, 1602 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, at 11 a.m. on May 17.

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City of Tacoma officials will be at The Hub at 6 p.m. on May 21 to discuss the future of cycling in the city and share updates on their mobility master plan.

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Women and Transgender Friends nights this month offer opportunities to learn bicycling commuting basics. From riding and traffic to carrying groceries, the May 8 and 22 meetings, both at 6 p.m., at 2nd Cycle, 1312 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, aim to answer all your questions.

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The tradition of capping of a good (or bad) ride with a beer probably dates back to the first bike ride. This has never been lost on South Sound bike event organizers. The Red Hot will host a party on May 28 at 5 p.m. to celebrate the second edition of its “Pint Pedaler: A Bike Map to Tacoma’s Craft Breweries.”

On May 30 at 5 p.m., “Downtown: On The Go” hosts a meet-up for cyclists at The Hub in Tacoma.

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Pierce County and Bike Tech are sponsoring a 5-mile family ride on Anderson Island on May 31. Ride organizer Shawn Phelps says participants should be prepared to pay the $5.15 ferry fee, but the county is planning to pick up the cost for a limited number of cyclists. The ride starts with the 2:10 p.m. ferry from Steilacoom and concludes with a return trip on the 4:40 p.m. ferry. Snacks will be provided.

Participants should notify Phelps by email by May 28 if they want to participate.

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The final weekend of Bike Month creeps into June, when the Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle Club hosts its annual Peninsula Metric Century and Gran Fondo. The ride is changing this year with an expansion of its Gran Fondo ride to include 65- and 100-mile routes. The ride also starts on the Tacoma side of the Narrows Bridge this year and will have an extra 1,000 feet of climbing on the longest route.

Registration is $35 for the standard rides (44-, 62- and 100-mile routes) or $60 for the timed 65-mile Fondo or $70 for the 100-mile Gran Fondo.

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Craig Hill: 253-597-8497