Every year, thousands of people participate in a bike ride that takes bicyclists on a 204-mile journey from Seattle to Portland.
The ride, called Seattle to Portland (STP), is organized by the Cascade Bicycle Club and registers around 10,000 participants a year.
But there’s one face in the crowd that rides in his law enforcement uniform every year, representing the Puyallup Police Department.
Puyallup Officer Dave Temple, an Eatonville resident, is a 17-year bike officer with Puyallup PD, and has participated in the ride for more than 10 years.
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“The whole STP thing started (when) one of the corrections officers, he bet me. It was a gentleman’s bet that I couldn’t do the Seattle to Portland in one day,” Temple remembered.
Having participated in local bike rides before, and after years of riding his own patrol bike for work, Temple accepted the bet — and won it, riding from Seattle to Portland in less than a day.
“I had him buy a bunch of pizza and I just fed the squad,” Temple said.
But the next year, Temple registered again. The ride turned into a tradition. The people he met along the way encouraged him to keep coming back. Temple's met many other members of law enforcement participating in the STP ride, but none of them in uniform.
“I’ve never seen anyone else in uniform, but it’s tradition for me,” Temple said.
One year, Temple met an officer who worked in the Portland air unit and invited Temple to visit for a flight. Other bike riders ask for pictures with Temple.
Along the route, there’s a scheduled stop for bikers at Tenino High School. The stop is Temple’s favorite every year.
“The best stop is Tenino High School. The kids there ... are so energetic, so positive,” Temple said. “That’s the one that brings the most memories to me because they crack jokes, and I crack jokes right back.”
Puyallup Sgt. Kevin Gill said Temple’s involvement in the ride reflects positively on the department.
“It shows that we’re out here in the community,” Gill said. “(Temple) doesn’t do it for the fanfare. He’s one of those guys everybody likes. He’s got one of the bigger hearts in the department, too.”
“I’ve met people from all walks of life on this ride...I’ve met other officers who aren't in gear, I’ve met people from other countries, I’ve met people from other states,” Temple said. “They always ask, ‘Why you do this?’”
Not only does Temple enjoy riding his bike, but he also rides every year to recognize someone.
“Usually every year I’ve dedicated a ride to somebody or something,” Temple said.
Temple has dedicated a ride to the four Lakewood police officers who were shot and killed in 2009 and other fallen law enforcement officers. He also dedicated a ride to his late mother and one ride for each one of his 10 children, who range in age from 13 to 26.
“My kids support me,” Temple said. “I ride for them because they’re a big motivation.”
Temple hasn’t decided who he wants to dedicate his next ride to, but is considering recognizing the Lakewood police officers again or the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which Temple was a part of when he served in the Army from 1983 and 1987.
Temple said doing the ride and being a bicycle officer presents the opportunity for people to approach him and start conversations.
“I have humor just like everybody else. I’m out there not to enforce the law, I’m just out there to have fun like everybody else. I just wear my uniform,” Temple said.
The next 39th annual Seattle to Portland, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and presented by Alaska Airlines, is scheduled for July 14 and July 15. Those who register can choose whether to do a one-day or two-day trip. For more registration information, visit cascade.org/stp.