Start the Cycling Season with the Earth Day Market Ride!

2012MarketRide The 2012 Earth Day Market Ride group shot. Photograph by Duncan Green, Intercity Transit.

Looking for something fun, free, and family oriented to celebrate Earth Day around town this weekend? ThurstonHereToThere.org recommends this Saturday’s Earth Day Market Ride. Join other cyclists of all ages and skill levels and meet at various neighborhoods around the community. Experienced ride leaders will guide their groups to the Heritage Park Fountain in downtown Olympia. Once all of the groups have arrived, a few friendly announcements and a quick group photo session will document the ride and the fun! By 11:00 a.m., the riders pedal en masse from the fountain to the Olympia Farmers Market to eat, shop, listen to music, or sign-up for the Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest.

What: Earth Day Market Ride
Who: All ages are welcome, riders must wear a helmet and sign a liability waiver
When: Saturday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m.
Where: Ride from neighborhood locations to the Fountain at Heritage Park, then the Olympia Farmers Market

The Earth Day Market Ride is the most popular organized annual family-friendly social bike ride in Thurston County. It attracts a much broader spectrum of cyclists and gear than one usually sees whizzing by in a spandex clad peloton: young, mature, seasoned, novice, physically fit, not so fit, old bikes, new bikes, two wheels, three wheels, skinny tires, fat tires, steel, aluminum, carbon, denim, wool, synthetic tights, high viz shells, plaid, panniers, back packs, trailers, bells, horns, squeaky chains, and an occasional flat tire. Everyone smiles, waves, and rings “Ding! Ding!” The event has its own style.

This easy going, slow-paced ride is the official start of the Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest. It is the only April event where contest registrants can count the ride’s mileage towards the contest. People who show up can expect a non-competitive and supportive cycling environment, and sometimes the weather is fair. Cycling makes people feel young.

The Earth Day Market Ride is an easy way for cyclists to commune with other riders. The event is a great way to embrace spring, enjoy a bike ride, and support local farmers and businesses at the Olympia Farmers Market.

Now in its 26th year, the Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest continues its goal to promote cycling as a practical, affordable, energy efficient, and fun form of transportation. Throughout the month of May, teams and individual riders tally their mileage and the number of days they ride to work, school, or errands to compete for prizes and top standings. Last year, 1,545 riders participated. The average rider logged 114 miles. The event generated 120,653 combined miles and reduced CO2 by 60 tons!

There are a few simple rules to follow on the ride. All riders must wear a helmet, sign a liability waiver form, follow the rules of the road, and understand that the ride home from the market is the participants’ responsibility. Intercity Transit contest organizers sponsor this event and will be at the market after the ride to help people sign up for the contest. Contest registration is $5 for adults and is free for both youth 18 and under and currently enrolled college students.

Even if you can’t join the ride this Saturday, this weekend could be a great time to pump up the bike tires, lube the chain, check the brakes, and get ready to ride. To learn more about the Thurston County Bicycle Commuter Contest and the Earth Day Market Ride, visit the contest blog at http://thurstonbcc.blogspot.com/. Have a fun and safe weekend!