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A small group of cyclists joined together with local clergy and church-goers for a Blessing of the Bikes followed by Sitka’s first Worldwide Ride of Silence on Wednesday, May 16, at the Crescent Harbor Shelter.

This was the 16th annual Worldwide Ride of Silence, which last year featured rides in 390 cities in all 50 states and 22 countries. The Worldwide Ride of Silence honors those bicyclists who have been killed or seriously injured by cars. It also is a way to remind drivers that cyclists legally have a right to share the roads, and to promote bike safety.

In Sitka, only five cyclists showed up for the event — Doug Osborne, Holly Marban, Bill Foster, Nate Stearman (pastor of Sitka Seventh-Day Adventist Church) and Charles Bingham (who also took pictures while riding) — which was preceded by a Blessing of the Bikes from Rev. Julie Platson (Rector of St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church) and Fr. Andy Sensenig, OMI (Priest at St. Gregory’s Catholic Church). There also was a small choir of women from St. Peter’s.

This was one of several cycling events in Sitka for National Bike Month (May) and National Bike To Work Week (May 14-18). The Ride of Silence always takes place at 7 p.m. local time on the third Wednesday in May. Upcoming events include National Bike To Work Day on Friday, May 18; the Julie Hughes Triathlon on Saturday, May 19; and the annual Sitka Community Bike Ride on Saturday, May 26.

A slideshow of scenes from the Blessing of the Bikes and Sitka’s event in the Worldwide Ride of Silence is posted below.

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SMART FIT – Jene Keith, age 7, has his new helmet adjusted by Holly Marban of the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition during the annual Sitka Bike Rodeo hosted on Saturday (May 12, 2018) by the Rotary Club of Sitka at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka hangar. Participants learned about bike safety and they were able to get a free bike tune-up and have their bicycles registered with the Sitka Police Department. The event also included a bike swap, a bike obstacle course and snacks. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

BIKE MONTH — Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition members Holly Marban, red jacket, and Doug Osborne hang a National Bike Month banner on a fence around the basketball court near the corner of Lincoln Street and Jeff Davis Street on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. More than a dozen events are scheduled in Sitka during May in recognition of National Bike Month, including the Sitka Bike Rodeo and Bike Swap on Saturday, May 12, and the annual Sitka Community Bike Ride on Saturday, May 26. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photos by James Poulson, the larger photo appeared in the Thursday, May 3, 2018, edition and both photos are used with permission).

The Sitka Community Bike Ride is the perfect way to celebrate the spring and National Bike Month in May. It also is a chance to celebrate the 127th anniversary of the first bike seen in Sitka, which arrived in May 28, 1891, on the cruiser Mexico.

Join us on Saturday, May 26, at Totem Square (near the Petro Marine dock, where the Mexico likely docked) as we host a short kid-friendly bike parade through downtown starting at 11 a.m. (get there early for quick bike tune-up and door prize drawing). Riders are encouraged to bring classic and unusual bikes, if you have them.

We hope to have a bike stand and mechanic on hand to assist cyclists from 10:30 a.m. at Totem Square. People will be able to check chains, brakes, tire pressure and other minor maintenance needs, but won’t be able to do major repairs. We also hope someone will be available to help check bike helmet fits.

Since we will be on busy city streets for this event, we encourage everybody to wear helmets and bright clothing for safety reasons. All cyclists should ride on the right side of the road (with traffic) and ride in a predictable manner. We ask drivers to be aware there will be a lot of cyclists out on May 26 and to please slow down and give them a safe space to ride. Thanks.

We held a community bike ride a few years ago that had about 300-350 cyclists, so let’s see if we can top that crowd. We had a smaller crew at our community bike rides the last couple of years, but it’s still lots of fun.

For more information, contact the Doug Osborne at dosborne@sitkahospital.org.

The 34th running, biking and swimming of the Julie Hughes Triathlon starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 19, at Blatchley Middle School.

The event is a fundraiser for the Sitka Cancer Survivors Society and honors the memory of a young Sitka woman who passed away from leukemia at the age of 15. (Click here for an April 2013 Capital City Weekly article about Julie Hughes.) Day-of-race registration ends at 8 a.m., a pre-race briefing and the race starts at 8:30 a.m. The bike staging area opens at 7 a.m.

JulieHughesTriathlonFor the sixth straight year, the Baranof Barracudas Swim Club is organizing the race, having taken over event hosting duties from the Hughes family. Registration takes place online at http://juliehughestri.com/. The entry fee is $35 per person ($15 per child age 17 or younger), and people can enter as individuals or teams. Day-of-race registrations are $40 for adults and $20 for children. Participants are encouraged to have bike safety checks done at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop before the race.

The course is a five-mile run from Blatchley Middle School to the U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka gate and back, a 14-mile bike ride from Blatchley to the Starrigavan Recreation Area at the end of Halibut Point Road and back, and a 1,000-yard swim at the Blatchley Middle School swimming pool. There is a shorter course available for participants who are age 12 or younger (1.5-mile run, six-mile bike, 500-yard swim).

For more information, contact Kevin Knox at 738-4664, or send an e-mail to bbsc.sitka@gmail.com.

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)

As the temperatures warm up, two events this month will highlight kids’ cycling and safety in Sitka —the seventh annual National Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 9, and the Sitka Bike Rodeo on Saturday, May 12. These two events and others will help kick off National Bike Month (May) in Sitka.

The Sitka Bike Rodeo is an annual event sponsored by the Sitka Rotary Club and U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka. This year’s bike rodeo takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, at the Coast Guard hangar. The target audience for this event is children age 12 and younger. Kids need to bring their bike, a helmet and a parent to this event, which will happen rain or shine. New this year is a bike swap, where people can sell or giveaway outgrown kids’ bikes.

“It’s a good chance for kids to make sure they and their bikes are ready to hit the roads and sidewalks for the busy spring and summer biking months,” event organizer Shannon Haugland said. “They can get their tires and brakes checked, make sure their helmets fit properly, and put some fresh reflective gear on their bikes and clothing. The favorite event is the obstacle course, where kids learn the rules of the road while testing their bike control skills.”

Other event sponsors include Sitka Community Hospital, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC)Girls Scouts of Alaska Troop 4140Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, and the Sitka Police Department. For more info about the Sitka Bike Rodeo, call Shannon Haugland at 738-0602 or Doug Osborne at 747-0373.

A Sitka student clips the strap on his bike helmet after riding his bike to school during the International Walk (and Bike) to School event in October 2008. Now there is a new and separate National Bike to School Day, this year on Wednesday, May 6. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson).

A Sitka student clips the strap on his bike helmet after riding his bike to school during the International Walk (and Bike) to School event in October 2008. Since 2012, there has been a new and separate National Bike to School Day, this year on Wednesday, May 9. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson).

On Wednesday, May 9, schools all over the country will encourage students to hope on their bikes for the seventh annual National Bike to School Day. Some schools will offer special events and prizes during the day. Schools in Sitka have signed up to host events, and many other Alaska communities are hosting bike rides to school. It’s not too late to organize one for your school. To encourage safety, parents are encouraged to ride their own bikes with their kids as they head to school.

Since it’s spring and the kids are starting to ride their bikes more often, here are a few bike safety rules for the kids:

  • Wear a properly fitting bike helmet (click here to learn how to fit a helmet). Not only is it a good way to protect yourself from head injuries, Sitka has a youth helmet ordinance that requires all children age 18 or younger to wear helmets when they ride bikes, trikes, skateboards, scooters and similar vehicles.
  • Right on the right side of the road, with traffic not against it. Older kids (age 11 and older) and adults should avoid riding their bikes on the sidewalks, especially downtown where there are lots of walkers (a bike can seriously injure elders who doesn’t hear the bike rider coming up behind them).
  • Wear bright clothes and make sure you have a working solid white headlight and flashing red taillight on your bike, especially if you ride when it’s dark. Wear a reflective vest or arm bands/leg bands, and put reflective tape on your clothes and/or bike frame so it’s easier for drivers to see you on the bike.
  • Know the rules of the road, and follow them. Stop at all stop signs and stop lights. Ride in a safe, predictable manner so cars know where you’re going. Use hand signals for all turns. Yield to traffic when appropriate.
  • Check your bike before riding it, especially the ABCs — Air (tires have the right amount of air), Brakes (the brakes work and will stop your tire so it skids on the pavement) and Chain (make sure the chain is the right tension and there are no damaged links, oil if necessary).
  • For more bike safety rules for kids, click here.