A predicted 700 to 750 bicyclists will be participating in the 2023 Tour de Whatcom on Saturday, July 22, said Executive Director of Whatcom Events Anna Rankin.
The event started 18 years ago as a small fundraiser for local nonprofit organizations, including Ferndale Band Boosters and Explorations Academy. Rankin says they have seen consistent popularity since the origin of the event, with an average of over 700 riders in recent years.
“It’s a social bike ride, it’s not timed, it’s not a race,” Rankin said. Whatcom Events is a volunteer-driven management organization of Bellingham recreational events.
Cyclists of all skill levels and experience are welcome to participate in one of four routes, including 22 or 44 mile out-and-backs, which are most popular among families with younger children, as well as 62 or 100 mile loops, known as the Metric Century and Century Rides.
The event starts and ends in the alley behind Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro on Railroad Avenue in downtown Bellingham. Departure times are staggered and depend on the route bikers have registered for.
Registration for the event is now closed. Registered participants will receive a photo of the rider on their route; bike corral for the post-ride event at Boundary Bay; and riders' choice of a beer token, voucher for $5 off food items at Boundary Bay or a pair of socks.
Howard Siegel, who has volunteered for the organization for four years, is now directing traffic at the start of the rides. He enjoys his role, as well as witnessing the enjoyment the riders get out of the event.
“The people love it, I gotta tell you,” Siegel said. “When they come in they’re all having a great time.”
Roadside assistance and food and water stations are staffed by nonprofit organizations like the Girl Scouts of Western Washington and Whatcom County Habitat for Humanity. Whatcom Events gives these organizations a charitable donation for their participation.
After the ride, Boundary Bay will host the cyclists in their beer garden where ride participants can cash in their food voucher or beer token. The beer garden is open to all ages, so the younger riders can join in.
Grace Eaton (she/her) is finishing her third year at Western, majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism-public relations. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, playing lacrosse and reading.
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