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Saturday, June 5, is National Trails Day this year, and the Sitka Cycling Club will celebrate by hosting a work party on its newest single-track mountain bike trail, Haa Latseen.

The work party takes place from 9 a.m. to noon, and takes place on the new loop off the Sitka Cross Trail. To reach the new loop, enter the Cross Trail from the Sitka High School entrance and go north (left from the spur) for about 120 yards. If you get as far as the gravel pile, you’ve gone about 60 feet too far.

The trail was named by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), which contributed $1,500 toward its construction. In Tlingít, Haa Latseen means strength of mind, body, and spirit. Work started on the trail on May 1, and there are regular work parties from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons this summer.

This is part of a series of single-track mountain bike trail loops the Sitka Cycling Club started building in 2020. Last summer the club built four loops, plus another loop was built by a group sponsored by the Sitka Conservation Society Community Conservation Corps. The goal is to build three more trails this summer, while also moving forward on a pump track project.

Speaking of the proposed pump track, the City and Borough of Sitka Parks and Recreation Committee will meet at noon on Tuesday, June 8, in Harrigan Centennial Hall, 330 Harbor Drive. Agenda items include: Sitka Cycling Club Pump Track; Upper Moller Field Use; Lower Moller Field; Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan. The meeting is open to the public.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and state health mandates encouraging residents to practice social distancing, and limit group gatherings, individuals that would like to participate by teleconference can contact jessica.earnshaw@cityofsitka.org or call 747-1826 by 10:00 a.m. the day of the meeting to obtain information to join the meeting.

These trails don’t build themselves. While we use (and so much appreciate) our volunteer labor, we still need to purchase gravel, shovels, wheelbarrows and other supplies. That’s where you come in, please donate to our efforts today. 

We are applying for a grant to help finance more trails, and the grant requires matching funding. We need people to pitch in so that we can match dollar for dollar. Please send a few bucks (or a few hundred) to the Sitka Cycling Club through our PayPal site, which accepts PayPal as well as credit/debit cards. You also can mail checks to Sitka Cycling Club, c/o Charles Bingham, treasurer, 405 Marine Street, Apt. No. 6, Sitka, Alaska 99835.

We also are looking for people to volunteer on our trail-building teams, with work parties from 4-6 p.m. every Tuesday and at a time TBA on the first Saturday of the month. We now have an online volunteer registration page, where people can sign up for specific work parties so we can make sure we stay Covid-safe on the trails.

We appreciate everybody’s help on this project. Thank you for your assistance. For more details on how to volunteer, contact single-track project leader Amy Volz at amy.volz@outlook.com.

A slideshow of trail-construction photos from May is linked below. These photos, including the one at the top of this post, were taken by Lione Clare.

The Sitka Cycling Club will host a monthly steering committee at noon on Thursday, May 27, using Zoom. This meeting is open to the general public.

Meeting topics include refining our mission statement and club goals for 2021, a review of our single-track mountain bike trail-building schedule and fundraising efforts, an update on the Salty Spoke Bike Cooperative, a review of National Bike Month events in May (including finalizing plans for our Sitka Community Bike Ride on Saturday, May 29), setting some monthly club rides in June and July, working on a bicycle safety plan for Sitka (which includes reminders about cyclists not riding on sidewalks downtown and drivers giving cyclists three feet of clearance when they pass), a discussion of steering club committee roles and recruitment of new members, a discussion of club membership and possibly adding annual dues, creating a fundraising plan, and setting our next meeting for June (usually at noon on the fourth Thursday of the month).

In addition, we are hosting the annual Sitka Community Bike Ride on Saturday, May 29. Cyclists should meet at Totem Square Park at 10:30 a.m., with a short ride around downtown Sitka starting at 11 a.m. The ride commemorates the arrival of Sitka’s first recorded bicycle, on May 28, 1891.

For those wanting to participate in the meeting, contact Doug Osborne at 738-8734 or douglaso@searhc.org for the meeting log-in info.

TRAIL HELP –  Jessika Bean, project coordinator in SEARHC’s Health Promotion Department, left, presents a $1,500 check from SEARHC to Amy Volz,  the single-track trails project manager for the Sitka Cycling Club, recently. The money will be used to support the construction of a new single-track mountain bike trail, Haa Latseen, a spur off the Sitka Cross Trail. Volunteer work parties are held from 4-6 p.m. every Tuesday this summer and from 9 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of the month. At the May 1 work party volunteers built the first 40 feet of trail and removed 820 pounds of rusty metal, litter, and trash that was in the area of the new trail behind Sitka High School. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)
BIKE GIVEN – Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School third-grader Rosie Starbuck stands with her mom, Ariel Coleman Starbuck and brother, Cedar, after Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge member Darrell Windsor presented her with a new bicycle recently at the school. The Masons are giving a bicycle to one student in each third-grade class at the school. Third-grade teachers are selecting the recipients based on students’ behavior in class and the students’ display of good citizenship. Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop donates a lock and helmet to the winner. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo)
BIKE GIVEN –  Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School third-grader Sam Ploetzner, 9, holds up a new bicycle after Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge member Tom Brown presented it to him recently at the school. The Masons are giving a bicycle to one student in each third grade class at the school. Third grade teachers are selecting the recipients based on students’ behavior in class and the students’ display of good citizenship. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo)
BIKE GIVEN –  Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School third-grader Ben Lihou gives his mom, Heidi, a hug as Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge member Gregg Dunn, right, presents him with a new bicycle and helmet recently at the school. Ben’s dad, Robert, at left, looks on. The Masons are giving a bicycle to one student in each third-grade class at the school. Third-grade teacher Anita Simic asked her class to nominate a classmate. Most nominations were for Ben, who was described as hardworking, upbeat, kind, helping, thoughtful, generous, positive, understanding and a good friend to have. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo) 

BIKE GIVEN –  Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School third-grader Emily Wingard holds a bicycle helmet as she stands with her parents after receiving it and a new bicycle from Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge member Darrell Windsor, at left. The Masons gave a bicycle to one student in each third-grade class at the school this year. Third-grade teachers selected the recipients based on students’ behavior in class and the students’ display of good citizenship. (Photo Providedto the Daily Sitka Sentinel)

During its inaugural single-track mountain bike trail-building work party of the year last week (MaY 1), Sitka Cycling Club volunteers collected and hauled away an amazing 820 pounds of trash in the forest just off the Sitka Cross Trail. 

The debris was in and around our newest trail under construction. Many items appeared to have been there for years or decades.

Let’s honor those stalwart volunteers. How about a dollar for a pound of trash? We aim to raise $820 in the coming weeks to purchase of rock and gravel for the three trails we plan to build this summer.

Click here to provide financial support for our single-track mountain bike trail-building efforts. We also plan to have regular 4-6 p.m. work parties on Tuesdays, and you can register to volunteer at this link.

Sitka Trail Works will offer a variety of hiking, bike rides and other events as part of its annual summer guided hike series.

After losing much of the 2020 summer guided hike series to the Covid-19 pandemic, Sitka Trail Works will have Covid mitigation policies in place this year to prevent the spread of the pandemic. This includes pre-event screening. The events are led by volunteer board members.

The series opens at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 8, with a Sitka Cross Trail bike ride that starts at the Salty Spoke Bike Co-op (behind Hames Wellness Center). This bike ride will give cyclists a chance to ride the five new single-track mountain bike loops built off the Cross Trail by the Sitka Cycling Club last summer.

Other events in town include the Ben Grussendorf Forest and Muskeg Trail and Starrigavan Trail Loop hike on Sunday, May 16; a Herring Cove and Beaver Lake Trail hike on Saturday, May 22; an Indian River Waterfall hike on Saturday, June 12; a Mosquito Cove Trail hike on Saturday, June 26; a Gavan Trail to Harbor Mountain hike on Saturday, July 3; a Verstovia Trail hike on Saturday, July 24; and a Thimbleberry to Heart Lake to Sawmill Creek Loop hike on Saturday, Aug. 7. The in-town events are free, but membership donations are encouraged to help with trail maintenance. In addition, there is a National Trails Day maintenance party at a trail to be announced on Saturday, June 5.

There also are three out-of-town events costing $110 each (price includes boat trips to the trails). These events include the Mount Edgecumbe Hike on Sunday, July 18; the Shelikof Bike Ride on Sunday, Aug. 1; and another Mount Edgecumbe Hike on Sunday, Aug. 15. Space is limited on these trips, so register early.

Finally, there are two running events on the calendar, both with limited space. The Medvejie Solstice Run is on Saturday, June 19; and the Alpine Adventure Run is on Saturday, July 17. These events are hosted by other groups, but included on the calendar.

For more information and schedule updates, go to the online calendar at https://sitkatrailworks.org/weekend-hikes/. For other details, call Sitka Trail Works at 747-7244, or visit http://sitkatrailworks.org.

A Back-to-Biking Workshop takes place from 5:30-7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5, as part of Sitka’s National Bike Month celebration. The free workshop will start at the Salty Spoke Bike Co-op, located in the back of the Hames Wellness Center. 

The purpose of the outdoor event is to review the basics of safe recreational and commuter bicycling in Sitka. The workshop will include a group ride, participation gifts, and a chance to work on maintaining your bicycle.   

For more information, call Doug Osborne at 966-8674 or go to our website at https://sitkacycling.wordpress.com/ to see the full National Bike Month calendar. 

BIKE MONTH – Ben Hughey, left, and Doug Osborne hang a banner proclaiming May as National Bike Month, Monday at the Crescent Harbor basketball court. The Sitka Cycling Club has a number of events planned for the month including the back to biking workshop from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Salty Spoke Bike Co-op behind the Hames Wellness Center. Organizers say the event will include a group ride, participation gifts and a chance to work on maintaining your bicycle. The League of American Bicyclists is promoting several national events including Bike to Work Week (May 17-21) and National Bike to School Day (May 5). (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo By James Poulson)

May is National Bike Month, so where will your bike take you this month in Sitka?

While there are a few annual events in Sitka that aren’t happening this year due to Covid still being around, such as the Sitka Bike Rodeo and the Julie Hughes Triathlon, we still have a full calendar of bike events for the month.

First, Sitka residents can register for the free National Bike Challenge, which runs from May 1 through the end of September. This is a national event, and you can win prizes.

There also is the Move For A Cause Challenge, from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). This free event is for residents of Southeast Alaska and runs the entire month of May. People can bike, hike, walk, or run their way to better health and a chance to win prize drawings.

If you’re wanting to help Sitka build more single-track mountain bike trails, there will be a volunteer work party from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 1. Meet at the trailhead to 907, the first single-track loop we built last year off the Cross Trail, and bring your gloves, sturdy boots, masks, etc. There also will be weekly trail-building work parties from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesdays. You can sign up to volunteer at this website, https://eventcreate.com/e/sitkasingletrack. Please register so we can make sure we have enough space to spread people out on the trails to avoid spreading Covid. You also can support the new trails by donating through PayPal.

After the volunteer work party on Saturday, you can swing by the Salty Spoke Bike Co-op (behind Hames Wellness Center) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for open hours, where members can work on their bikes and use tools they may not own. Salty Spoke Bike Co-op hours are from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, May 1, May 8, May 15, May 22, and May 29.

It’s National Bike To School Day on Wednesday, May 5, and youth are encouraged to ride their bikes to school (remember, Sitka has a youth bike helmet law for ages 18 and younger). There also is a Back To Biking Workshop targeted to ages 14-older from 5:30-7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5, at the Salty Spoke Bike Co-op. This is a good time to check out the newly opened co-op and learn some basic bike maintenance.

On Saturday, May 8, Sitka Trail Works will host the Cross Trail Bike Ride. Meet at 1:30 p.m. at the Salty Spoke Bike Co-op for a five-mile ride along the Cross Trail from Indian River to Sitka High School and back. Along the way, riders will get a chance to ride all five single-track mountain bike loops that were built in 2020.

Monday, May 17, through Friday, May 22, is National Bike To Work Week, with Friday, May 22, also serving as National Bike To Work Day. Sitka cyclists are encouraged to ride their bikes to work during this week. If you work from home, do a fun ride around town or out on the trails. When you ride, stop in at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop to fill out a ticket entering you in a prize drawing for a couple of gift certificates. The winners will be drawn on Saturday, May 23.

On Wednesday, May 19, there will be a Ride of Silence, where we honor those cyclists who have been injured or killed by motor vehicles, and a Blessing of the Bikes by local clergy. Meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Crescent Harbor covered shelter for the blessing, then join us for a slow, bike ride around town starting at 7 p.m. This year’s Ride of Silence will have additional significance as Sitka had its first cycling fatality since 2009 on March 8 when 20-year-old Terry Carlson Jr. was hit and killed while riding his bike to work.

On Saturday, May 22, is Kids’ Day at the Salty Spoke Bike Co-op, where youth are encouraged to bring their bikes to the co-op from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to learn how to better take care of them.

From noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, is the monthly meeting of the Sitka Cycling Club steering committee. This meeting is open to the public, and people should contact Doug Osborne at douglaso@searhc.org to get the Zoom meeting link.

Finally. we’ll close out National Bike Month with the Sitka Community Bike Ride at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 29. Meet at 10:30 a.m. at Totem Square Park to prepare for the short, family friendly bike ride through downtown Sitka. This event honors the 130th anniversary of the first recorded bicycle in Sitka, which arrived in town on May 28, 1891.

Throughout the month of May, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) invites community members to hike, bike, walk or run for a cause.

Participants of all ages and ability levels can join SEARHC in its month-long “Move for a Cause” campaign that focuses on the mental and physical health benefits of activity.

Registration is free, and the number of miles logged, steps taken, or active outdoor minutes by participants will generate donations to Southeast Alaska Food Bank and CoastAlaska Public Radio through SEARHC. Online registration is free and open now at http://www.searhc.org/moveforacause.

Once registered, participants can log their time spent being active to support partners in community health. In light of food insecurities being faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for advocating local resources, SEARHC will make a donation in honor of every participant that logs all four weeks of activity to SouthEast Alaska Food Bank and CoastAlaska Public Radio through the Move for a Cause campaign.

“Together, we can make great strides in supporting our physical and mental health through activity and come together for important causes in our community during these challenging times,” said Martha Pearson, SEARHC Director of Health Promotion.

Throughout May, weekly prizes will be awarded for those who log their goals and activities. For more information, visit searhc.org/moveforacause or contact SEARHC Health Educator Heleena van Veen at 907-966-8914.