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The Sitka Cycling Club is hosting a group ride at noon on Saturday, March 23, starting and ending at BEAK Restaurant.

The event includes live music and 20 percent off food purchases as part of the new Bicycle Benefits program (cyclists must show Bicycle Benefits helmet sticker to receive discount). The group ride will last about 45 minutes and will consist of riding on the Cross Trail.

For more information and to sign up for the Sitka Cycling Club, go to https://sitkacycling.wordpress.com or call Doug Osborne at 747-0373 or Emma Klein at 966-8785.

• Sitka Cycling Club 2019 monthly bike rides, tentative schedule

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The Sitka Cycling Club will meet from noon until 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, at the Fisheye Organic Café (formerly North Sister Juice and Crepe Company, located on Seward Street next to Subway). Fisheye Organic Café is one of the Bicycle Benefits businesses in our new program, so cyclists who show their helmet stickers will receive 20 percent off their purchases.

The monthly meeting is open to everyone interested in making Sitka an even better town for cyclists of all ages. Topics include brainstorming ideas on how to grow our Sitka Cycling Club, planning for National Bike Month in May, planning the Alaska Walking and Bicycling Conference in Sitka in early June, discussion of a series of summer bike club rides, the creation of a statewide biking/walking advocacy group (tentatively called Walk/Bike Alaska), a discussion about what we can do to make Sitka more bicycle friendly, and other topics.

For more information, call Doug Osborne at 747-0373 or Holly Marban at 966-8938.

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Residents of Sitka can now participate in Bicycle Benefits, a commuter discount program that has rolled into Sitka to offer deals to those who choose bicycle transportation.

This year-round program promotes cycling and boosts local business by offering discounts and rewards to cyclists who bike to and display their sporty Bicycle Benefit helmet sticker at participating establishments. The program sticker can be purchased at local participating businesses for $5.

Bicycle Benefits is a nationwide program that supports local communities interested in growing bicycle use. On March 1, Sitka became the first community in Alaska to bring the program to life.

About the Bicycle Benefits program

Bicycle Benefits is a progressive bicycling program, which began in Saratoga Springs, New York, and is designed to reward individuals and businesses for their commitment to cleaner air, personal health, and the use of pedaling energy in order to create more sustainable communities where healthy transportation thrives.

The program’s continual growth decreases parking demand, increases helmet use, and improves cyclists’ safety and health by putting more people on bikes. For more information about Sitka’s participation in the Bicycle Benefits program, visit sitkacycling.wordpress.com or www.bicyclebenefits.com.

Bicycle Benefits participating businesses in Sitka

A handful of local businesses have stepped up to support and encourage cycling in Sitka. The current participating businesses and their offers include:

  • Beak Restaurant — 20% off*
  • Backdoor Cafe — 20% off
  • LFS Marine Supplies — 20% off all high-visibility gear
  • Russell’s Sporting Goods — 10% off
  • Mean Queen — 10% off*
  • Mean Queen @ Totem Square (opening in March) — 10% off*
  • Harry Race Pharmacy — 20% off all GNP products
  • Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop — 10% off lights and reflective gear
  • Old Harbor Books — 15% off book purchases
  • Fisheye Organic Cafe — 20% off
  • Fisheye Coffee — 20% off
  • Spinning Moon Apothecary — 10% off

*alcohol is excluded from all Bicycle Benefits discounts

Other local businesses interested in participating in the Bicycle Benefits program can contact Doug Osborne at (907) 747-0373 or Holly Marban at (907) 966-8938.

Kick-Off ride on March 23

The program will do a soft launch on March 1, and the Sitka Cycling Club will hold a kick-off ride on Saturday, March 23, to celebrate as a group. To join the ride, meet at the Beak Restaurant at noon. We will ride on the Cross Trail and end again at the Beak, where participants can grab a bite to eat together and continue to build community.

The Sitka Cycling Club will host monthly group rides throughout the summer, and each one will start or end at a different Bicycle Benefits participating business to show our support.

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Sitka’s weather on International Winter Bike To Work/School Day, Friday, Feb. 8, wasn’t very wintery, which may have helped Sitka finish in the top 100 in the overall standings, beating several cities with more than a million people.

Sitka finished in a six-way tie for 98th place overall with 20 points, matching New York City; Durham, N.C.; Osijek, Hrvatska (Croatia); Frankfurt am Main, Deutschland (Germany); and Getxo, España (Spain). Communities earned points for the number of cyclists who rode and registered their rides with the international website, inviting friends to ride, sharing photos, hosting an event, etc. The only other Alaska community ranked in the top 200 cities was Anchorage in 41st place with 67 points.

For the first time in the event’s history, a city from the United States earned top honors. Denver, Colo., won the title with 1,405 points (including 1,207 cyclists). Boulder, Colo., took second place with 1,174 points; followed in third place by Zagreb, Hrvatska, with 520 points; Gdańsk, Polska (Poland), in fourth place with 287 points; and Varaždin, Hrvatska, in fifth place with 264 points.

Нови Сад, Србија (Novi Sad, Serbia), which won the overall title last year and finished in second place the previous two years, dropped to 50th place and only 52 points this year (it had a record 1,393 participants in 2018). Besides Novi Sad in 2018, previous winners include Zagreb three times (2015-17), Oulu, Suomi (Finland, 2014, tied for 29th place in 2019 with 87 points), and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (2013, when the event was almost exclusively in Canada, sixth place in 2019 with 241 points).

In Sitka, cyclists could enter a drawing at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop on Feb. 8. Becky Meiers won a headlight/taillight set from Yellow Jersey, and Katie Reilly won a set of used studded mountain bike tires from Andrew Thoms in the contest. Thank you, Bill Hughes of Yellow Jersey and Andrew Thoms for donating the prizes.

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Monday through Friday, May 14-18, is National Bike To Work Week this year, and the schedule of Sitka events is fuller than normal for the week.

As usual, people who bicycle to work each day can stop by Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop and fill out an entry ticket for the contest to win a gift certificate from the store (the winning ticket is drawn at the Julie Hughes Triathlon on Saturday, May 19). But this year there are other events each day of the week to help keep people riding their bikes.

On Monday, cyclists can start of the week with a free morning cup of coffee or tea (eight ounces or 12 ounces) from the Backdoor Café between 6:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Riders must show a helmet to qualify.

On Tuesday, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) hosts one of its Doc Talks at 6 p.m. at the Sitka Public Library. The Doc Talks speaker will by physical therapist Gio Villanueva, who will discuss “Exercise as Medicine.”

On Wednesday, Sitka joins the Worldwide Ride of Silence with a short, quiet ride through downtown Sitka. Cyclists are asked to meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Crescent Harbor Shelter for ride instructions and a brief Blessing of the Bikes with Rev. Julie Platson before we start riding at 7 p.m. The Worldwide Ride of Silence is a series of rides that take place in communities all over the world at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday in May to honor those cyclists who have been killed or injured while riding. Bike helmets are required for this event.

On Thursday, cyclists will be able to use pedal-power to make their own smoothies at North Sister Juice & Crepe Co. from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and they’ll get a 20-percent discount on lunch. Again, cyclists need to show their helmets to get the discount.

Friday, May 18, is National Bike To Work Day, and there will be a celebration of cyclists at the Sitka Health Summit‘s monthly Wooch.een luncheon at noon at the Sitka Community Hospital downstairs classroom. Some businesses in town are hosting special events for employees who ride to work on Friday (for example, SEARHC employees who show their helmets and ID badges can get a free lunch at the Island Skillet in Mount Edgecumbe Hospital).

Don’t forget there is a variety of other events during May, which is National Bike Month, so click this link to see a full schedule of events in Sitka. Other National Bike Month events include a Cross Trail guided bike ride, National Bike To School Day, the Sitka Bike Rodeo, and the Sitka Community Bike Ride.

• 2018 National Bike Month list of Sitka events (PDF flier to print and post)

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National Bike Month kicks off on Tuesday, May 1, and Sitka residents are encouraged to find ways to get out and ride your bike this month. The seasons are changing, so make sure you get out on your bike and enjoy a ride.

This is a great time to help Sitka show why it earned an upgrade to the Silver level of the Bicycle Friendly Community program in 2016, and was featured on the cover of the Winter 2017 edition of Bicycle Friendly America magazine in February.

Our National Bike Month schedule concludes the annual Sitka Community Bike Ride on Saturday, May 26, where we celebrate the 127th anniversary of the first bike seen in Sitka (on May 28, 1891) with a ride through downtown Sitka. This is a great family friendly event to celebrate cycling in Sitka, and people are encouraged to bring any classic or unusual bikes they have to this event. We hope to have someone available to do minor maintenance before the ride (pump up tires, oil chains, tighten brake cables, etc.).

Also on the agenda are National Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 9; the Sitka Bike Rodeo for kids on Saturday, May 12; our annual National Bike to Work Week (May 14-18) drawing for prizes for those who commute to work or school by bike during the week; a Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition monthly meeting on Friday, May 4; two SEARHC-hosted Doc Talks about cycling and exercise (on Tuesday, May 1, and Tuesday, May 15, at the Sitka Public Library); the Julie Hughes Triathlon on Saturday, May 19; and the Sitka Trail Works Cross Trail guided bike ride on Saturday, May 5. SEARHC also is offering a $100 discount on the purchase of a bike at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop during May for Sitka residents who saw SEARHC health providers from October 2017 through May 2018 (with extra safety equipment provided by Yellow Jersey).

In addition, we plan a special event each day of National Bike Week, including free coffee or tea at the Backdoor Cafe on Monday morning, May 14; a Doc Talks at the Sitka Public Library on Tuesday, May 15; a Ride of Silence event to honor cyclists killed or injured in traffic on Wednesday, May 16; pedal-powered smoothies and a lunch discount at North Sister Juice and Crepe Co. on Thursday, May 17; and a celebration of cyclists at the Sitka Health Summit‘s Wooch.een luncheon on Friday, May 18 (National Bike To Work Day).

As in past years, those cyclists who ride their bike to work, school or on errands during National Bike To Work Week (May 14-18) can fill out tickets at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop for a chance to win a gift certificate from Yellow Jersey, with other prizes possible. The prize drawing will be at the Julie Hughes Triathlon on May 19. To donate a prize, contact Doug Osborne at dosborne@sitkahospital.org.

Over the last year or so, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has been updating the Alaska Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, and Sitka cyclists can still submit feedback on the website. This is important since Alaska’s last update to the plan was more than 20 years ago (1994).

In addition, Sitka cyclists are encouraged to join with thousands of others from around the country as they ride in the fourth annual National Bike Challenge, a free event that runs from May 1 through Sept. 30.

Cyclists can ride in the National Bike Challenge as individuals, for their workplaces or on other teams, and the mileage they log also will help their cities and states in the rankings. In 2016 more than 45,000 cyclists rode nearly 25 million miles during the five months of the National Bike Challenge (stats weren’t available for 2017).

• 2018 National Bike Month list of Sitka events (PDF flier to print and post)

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Sitka cyclists are encouraged to join with thousands of others from around the country as they ride in the seventh annual National Bike Challenge, a free event that runs from May 1 through Sept. 30.

This year’s prizes include a trip to New Zealand, a trip to the Grand Canyon, a $1,000 voucher from your local bike store, a $250 voucher from your local bike store, a set of monkey lights, a set of lane lights, and a variety of other bike gear.

Cyclists can ride as individuals, for their workplaces or on other teams, and the mileage they log also will help their cities and states in the rankings. This event launched in 2012, but some changes the last few years make it easier for people to participate. The challenge was extended a month a couple of years ago, so it now is five months long and covers the entire summer. During the 2016 National Bike Challenge, 45,982 cyclists rode 24,749,196 miles.

Participants can record the miles of their commute to work, as well as logging their various errands around town and pleasure rides, just so long as they ride an actual bike outdoors. It doesn’t count if people use machines or trainers.

It’s easy to participate. Just go to the website, create a profile and log in your miles. You also can join teams from the website. For those of you with smartphones, you can create a profile on Strava and the app’s global-positioning system tracking will record your workouts directly into your National Bike Challenge profile. If you don’t use Strava, you can use one of a variety of apps, such as Ride Report or Map My Ride, to automatically record your ride. For each day you ride, you receive 20 points plus one point for each mile ridden.

There already are several teams in Alaska, including one called Sitka Cyclists that Sitka residents can join. In previous years we also had a couple of workplace teams, including teams from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. Due to some recent changes to the program and website, the old workplace team pages aren’t available so someone will have to create new ones. We encourage Sitka teams to participate so we can get a little friendly competition going.

For those who miss the May 1 start date, if you’ve been riding you can back-record your workouts so long as you create a profile before the end of May. There are monthly prizes (awarded by random draw to cyclists nationwide who score at least 100 points in the month), and additional prizes at the end of the contest.

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