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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.

The Sitka Cycling Club will host a monthly steering committee at noon on Thursday, April 22, using Zoom. This meeting is open to the general public.

Meeting topics include visioning for the new year (where do we want to be at this time next year), a look at our current status and realities, a chance to update ourselves on where we are with club goals for 2021, an evaluation and selection of broad paths forward, a review of our recent Sitka mountain bike trail plan survey results and update on our upcoming trail plan and trail-building schedule for the summer, an update on the Salty Spoke Bike Cooperative, setting some monthly club rides starting in April (first one is April 24), 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 May (usually at noon on the fourth Thursday of the month). We also will finish planning National Bike Month events for May.

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

The Sitka Cycling Club’s monthly group ride, in honor of Earth Week, will be on Saturday, April 24. The ride will start at 1:30 p.m. at the Salty Spoke Bike Co-op (accessed by riding to the back of the Hames Center, below the recycling center, map on link). 

The nine-mile round trip ride will go to Silver Bay via the multi-use path along Sawmill Creek Road. All helmeted cyclists are welcome to join. Cyclists who bring a vaccination card will be entered into a special prize drawing.

For more information or to sign up to be a Sitka Cycling Club member, go to sitkacycling.wordpress.com or call Doug Osborne at 738-8734

We’re preparing another season of single-track trail-building here at the Sitka Cycling Club. Three more trails off the Sitka Cross Trail are on the docket, to add to our existing five trails near the high school. We begin our season on Saturday, April 3. 

But, 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.

The Sitka Cycling Club will host a monthly steering committee at noon on Thursday, March 25, using Zoom. This meeting is open to the general public.

Meeting topics include visioning for the new year (where do we want to be at this time next year), a look at our current status and realities, a chance to brainstorm club goals for 2021, an evaluation and selection of broad paths forward, a review of our recent Sitka mountain bike trail plan survey results and discussion about our upcoming trail plan, an update on the Salty Spoke Bike Cooperative, setting some monthly club rides starting in April, a discussion of steering club committee roles and recruitment of new members (we need a VP), a discussion of club membership and possibly adding annual dues, and setting our next meeting for April (usually at noon on the fourth Thursday of the month). We also might start planning National Bike Month events for May.

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

The Sitka Cycling Club will host a monthly steering committee at noon on Thursday, Feb. 25, using Zoom. This meeting is open to the general public.

Meeting topics include visioning for the new year (where do we want to be at this time next year), a look at our current status and realities, a chance to brainstorm club goals for 2021, an evaluation and selection of broad paths forward, a review of our recent Sitka mountain bike trail plan survey results and discussion about our upcoming trail plan, an update on the Salty Spoke Bike Cooperative, setting some monthly club rides starting in April, a discussion of steering club committee roles and recruitment of new members (we need a VP), a discussion of club membership and possibly adding annual dues, and setting our next meeting for March. We also might start planning National Bike Month events for May.

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

Sitka’s weather on International Winter Bike To Work Day, Friday, Feb. 12, was cold and sunny, with no real moisture in about a week, which may have helped Sitka finish in the top 100 in the 2021 overall standings. Sitka beat several cities with more than a million people.

Sitka finished in a 13-way tie for 98th overall, with seven points (riders who recorded their rides on the international website). That put Sitka ahead of several larger communities around the world, such as Talinn, Estonia; Warsaw, Poland; Hannover, Germany; Barcelona, Spain; and Vienna, Austria. Communities earned points for the number of cyclists who rode and registered their rides with the International Winter Bike To Work Day website. The only other Alaska community among the top-250 places in the standings was Anchorage, which was in a 117-way tie for 230th place with two points.

Sweden dominated the top spots in the standings, with four cities in the top five. Linköping was the 2021 winner with 412 points, followed by 2020 overall winner Uppsala with 352 points. In third place was Umeå with 253 points, while Göteborg and Ismir, Turkey, tied for fourth place with 218 points. Rounding out the top-10 places in the standings were three-time winner (2015-17) Zagreb, Croatia, in sixth with 191 points; Montréal, Quebec, Canada, in seventh place with 159 points; 2014 winner Oulu, Finland, in eighth place with 155 points; and two more Swedish cities with Stockholm in ninth place with 132 points and Falun in 10th place with 127 points. Other former champions included 2019 champion Denver, Colorado, USA, in a tie for 65th place with 12 points; 2018 champion Novi Sad, Serbia, in a tie for 347th place with one point; and 2013 champion Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in a tie for 32nd place with 27 points. (In 2013 the event was almost entirely Canadian and it didn’t become a true international event until 2014.)

There were 93 communities from the United States that show up in the standings. The top five United State cities in the standings were Boulder, Colo., in a tie for 29th place with 32 points (the top American city); Traverse City, Mich., in a tie for 32nd place with 27 points; Denver in a tie for 65th place with 12 points; and Olympia, Wash., and Lincoln, Neb., both in a tie for 76th place with 10 points. Sitka, in its tie for 98th place with seven points, was the sixth American city. Other than Anchorage, no other Alaska communities showed up in the standings.

Participants in Sitka could enter a drawing at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop on Feb. 12 when they recorded their rides, which could include loops around town due to so many people being out of work or working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. James Poulson won a reflective rain jacket from SEARHC, Greg George won a Mako Nite Rider headlight from Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop, Davey Lubin won a Serfas Seat-Stay tail light from Yellow Jersey, Sharyn Ferrick won a Herrmans Safety Wing reflector from Yellow Jersey, Doug Osborne won a Sayre reflective band, and Ronan George won a Cycloq mounted bike holder (for the wall) from an anonymous donor. Thank you to all who donated prizes.

Photo by Lione Clare

The Harry Race Soda Fountain, which donates its tips to a local nonprofit organization each month, will pay it forward to the Salty Spoke Bicycle Cooperative in February.

The Salty Spoke is a membership cooperative (with a sliding fee based on income) located in the back of the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center, providing bicycle maintenance and classes on bike repair. It also helps repair older bikes for lower-income riders, especially kids. The Salty Spoke opened in October 2019 and is usually open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

“We are beyond excited to hear that Harry Race Soda Fountain has selected us to receive their soda fountain tips this month,” Salty Spoke co-coordinator Alyssa Russell said. “As a budding cooperative, this support from our community means so much to us, and we are excited to put the funds towards our youth education program. Thank you Harry Race.”

The Salty Spoke will host three bike maintenance workshops from 11 a.m. to noon on the last three Saturdays in February (Feb. 13, 20, and 27). Subjects covered likely will include routine chain maintenance, rust prevention techniques, safety checks, prevention techniques, and brake adjustments.

The workshops are $20 for the general public and free for Salty Spoke members. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the workshops are capped at eight participants and masks and social distancing are required. For more details, contact the Salty Spoke at thesaltyspoke@gmail.com.