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We actually had some winter weather for the inaugural Sitka Winter Cycling Celebration on Saturday, Jan. 28.

In recent years there hasn’t been a lot of snow in Sitka, so winter riding usually means being out in the rain. But we had more than a foot of new snow during the week leading up to the Sitka Winter Cycling Celebration, and the snowplows were still catching up to the snowfall on Saturday. Add in some hurricane-force winds on Thursday, and Sitka definitely had some weather this week, even a bit of thunder snow.

WINTER CYCLING -- About a dozen cyclists ride together down Lincoln Street on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition hosted the inaugural Sitka Winter Cycling Celebration, which included a ride around town with a police escort. A warm-up with hot cocoa and door prizes was hosted afterward at Harrigan Centennial Hall, and the movie "Fat Bike" about winter cycling in Alaska was shown. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson, ran on Page 1 of the Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, edition, reprinted with permission)

WINTER CYCLING -- About a dozen cyclists ride together down Lincoln Street on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition hosted the inaugural Sitka Winter Cycling Celebration, which included a ride around town with a police escort. A warm-up with hot cocoa and door prizes was hosted afterward at Harrigan Centennial Hall, and the movie "Fat Bike" about winter cycling in Alaska was shown. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson, ran on Page 1 of the Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, edition, reprinted with permission)

Because many people still weren’t getting out of their houses much less riding bikes, the crowd was small for our event. But we did have about 15-20 hardy cyclists participate in the group ride through downtown and several other people joined us after the ride to watch the award-winning film “Fat Bike” (by Anchorage’s Carl Battreall, who donated a copy of the DVD). Dan Etulain now has the DVD and he plans to show it on his TV stations.

Thanks to Father Jim Blaney of St. Gregory Nazianzen Catholic Church for blessing the bikes and joining us on the ride. Thanks also to Eric Haseltine, Brian McNitt and Adam Andis for providing bike safety checks, and thanks to Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop for the coupons for $5 off bike safety gear or safety services. The Alaska Injury Prevention Center in Anchorage donated free reflective tape and zipper pulls for the cyclists, and the Sitka Police Department provided a cruiser escort for the ride. Thanks to the Daily Sitka Sentinel for running our event press release and for photographer James Poulson joining us on the ride, and thanks to KCAW-Raven Radio for hosting Doug Osborne on the Morning Edition interview program on Friday, Jan. 27.

We also had some contests. Adam Andis won the slowest bike award. Bill Foster had the most visible bike. Edward Sugai won best sound. Jim Clare won best winterized bike. Joshua Houston won a gift certificate from the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus for a free spot in a March bike mechanics class. Salvador Pilgrim won a reflective rain jacket donated by Murray Pacific.

Anyway, here are some photos from the event (all photos in the slideshow are by Charles Bingham, except the one of the riders by the Cable House taken by James Poulson of the Daily Sitka Sentinel).

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The Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition will meet at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Meeting topics include final planning for the Sitka Winter Cycling Celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28, at Harrigan Centennial Hall and the Crescent Harbor shelter (with a bike workshop, blessing of the bikes by local clergy, community bike ride through downtown Sitka, and a showing of the award-winning movie “Fat Bike” by Anchorage’s Carl Battreall about winter mountain biking in Alaska); an update on the state’s planned Halibut Point Road construction project (the Alaska Department of Transportation has scheduled a public meeting planned for 5-8 p.m. on Wed. Jan. 18, at Harrigan Centennial Hall); our new bike safety media campaign; and other items.

The coalition also will discuss getting all the necessary information for our renewal application for a Bicycle Friendly Community award, which is due to the League of American Bicyclists in February 2012. In May 2008, Sitka became the first community in Alaska to earn a Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists. Since Sitka received its bronze level BFC award, good for four years, Anchorage and Juneau also have received bronze awards. Several businesses in Alaska, including the Sitka campus of the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) have earned Bicycle Friendly Business designations from the League of American Bicyclists.

To learn more about our application process and what we need to be renewed as a Bicycle Friendly Community, please attend the meeting and/or watch this site. For more information, contact Doug Osborne at 966-8734 or doug.osborne@searhc.org, or contact Charles Bingham at 738-8875 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com.

• Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition meeting flier (feel free to print and post around town)

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