The Tour de Peaks ride through the Snoqualmie Valley was again held just a week after STP (Seattle-to-Portland), and so elite riders appeared to again have skipped it. The turnout on Saturday, July 18, was noticeably low.
It is likely that sweltering temperatures in the 90s across the valley that day also affected the ridership. An organizer estimated to me that 160 or so bicyclists did the ride, a number that included more than 30 day-of-race registrants. But about 30 or more early registrants were no-shows.
While it was hard to miss the lackluster turnout at Tour de Peaks, I also noticed that among those who did the ride, at least half or more were women. This is much better odds than many of the rides I’ve done, when it seemed only three in 10 riders were female. But this higher percentage of women follows a trend I’m seeing at other organized rides in 2015. It seems that, finally, more women are cycling! That’s a great thing.
Women already have fueled a running boom — it started several years ago when women began outnumbering men at an increasing number of running events, and actually have prompted more events to be held. I’d love to see the same in bicycling.
Call what I am seeing in bicycling an “anecdotal” trend. I’ve done five rides in 2015, and see an increase in women riders in all of them. I also see more women riding bikes along the Sammamish River Trail in Redmond, which I walk almost daily because it is right next to my workplace at Allytics. What’s really cool is seeing more ultra-fit women who seem to have a passion for bicycling (the same way many women now have a passion for running).
But I don’t have time to research this “trend” to prove it (like The Seattle Times’ data-driven FYI Guy could). However, if what I am seeing is an accurate picture, bicycling events could start to grow and flourish.
Declining ridership at Tour de Peaks
As far as the Tour de Peaks goes, this event may have to move back to June or August to avoid being so close to STP. The North Bend-based event has been declining in ridership and interest for several years now, the organizer admitted.
He said it is timed to be held the same weekend as the North Bend Block Party, which takes over the main drag (North Bend Way) and draws good-sized crowds for rock bands and other entertainment, plus food booths and kids’ activities. North Bend Way is less than a block away from the Tour de Peaks’ start-and-finish line. Unfortunately, the Block Party is hardly at full swing when riders are crossing the finish line; it gets rocking in the evening.
There also seems to be no obvious tie between the ride and the party. Out-of-town riders don’t know if they are welcome at the party, and don’t know if they can get a beer there or not. So most who do the ride then just get in their cars and head back to Seattle or the Eastside.
I continue to do this ride because it is a relatively flat, low-stress outing. This was my fifth time doing it — it was my first organized ride ever in 2011, and my first 100-mile ride ever in 2012. I’ve done the 25-mile route (too short) once, the 100-mile route twice and now the 50-mile route twice. If I do it again next year, I will probably do the full century again.
The 50-mile route starts with a five-mile eastward loop, then essentially goes from North Bend to Carnation, through Snoqualmie and Fall City. (The 100-mile route continues from Carnation through Duvall and further north into Snohomish County, then takes you back to Carnation and then North Bend.)
The most challenging part of the 50- or 100-mile route is the climb back up Snoqualmie Falls Hill heading back to the finish line. It is a long (two-mile) hill, and you have a very narrow shoulder to avoid being in the path of cars. But it isn’t as steep as some hills I do in other rides — such as Inglewood Road Hill and the hike into Issaquah in the Flying Wheels ride, or three or more of the hills in the 7 Hills of Kirkland ride.
Normally fast downhill is not so fast
I must, however, talk a bit about the ride down Snoqualmie Falls Hill, in the first half of the ride. This is usually a high-speed romp down the hill, cool wind blowing in your face. Great fun. This year, I got behind two women who were novices. They were fun to ride with, but surprisingly, they braked and pedaled their way down the big hill, rather than just letting go. Sorry, ladies, but you need to go faster next time.
Otherwise, this ride is flat and can and does get boring. On Saturday, I took advantage of some of the flat sections in the 50-mile route to work on my speed (which needs work). I finished the ride in four hours and 44 minutes, but under four hours excluding time at food stops.
Oh, about the food stops: Need to give a shout out to Steve’s Doughnuts of Snoqualmie, for those awesome donut holes.
My last ride for 2015?
This was my fifth ride of 2015 and my 22nd overall since 2011 (including five of 100 or more miles). I’m looking for other rides to do in August or September, but have none scheduled at this time.
Thanks for reading. Till next time.