Mussels meet muscles in Mussel Fest cycling event

Darcy Patterson and her grandson, Darian Matsushita, participated in Mussels in the Kettles last year. Patterson and her husband, John, own Bicycles Northwest in Oak Harbor.    - Contributed photo
Darcy Patterson and her grandson, Darian Matsushita, participated in Mussels in the Kettles last year. Patterson and her husband, John, own Bicycles Northwest in Oak Harbor.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Work your muscles to earn mussels at the mountain biking event, Mussels in the Kettles, presented by the Whidbey Island Bicycle Club.

Mussels in the Kettles will be March 3 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in conjunction with the Penn Cove Mussel Festival. Participants can head to the festival and explore the tastes of Coupeville after exploring Coupeville’s unique Kettles Trail System.

The club started the event last year and saw a turnout of 60 people, some who traveled from as far as Redmond, Bellingham and Tacoma. They told club president and event organizer Brian Wood that Whidbey Island has such great, well-built trails.

“We wanted to show that off and show off Whidbey Island,” Wood said. He hopes the event will attract at least 200 participants this year.

The ride has three levels of trails so all ages and skill levels can participate. Participants will meet at Coupeville Elementary School and cycle beside Highway 20 to the entrance to the Kettles Trail System.

Check points will offer water and homemade cookies, plus playing cards. Upon completion of the trail, participants will see who has the best poker hand to compete for prizes donated by various bike stores and other sponsors.

No participant will come away empty-handed, though. The club used money donated by the Whidbey Island Bank to buy socks with their logo for every participant.

Afterward, the club will bring their tent to the Mussel Festival in downtown Coupeville so participants can join in the mussel and chowder tasting event. The club will have limited tickets to the festival available for purchase at their tent.

Adult participants can enjoy a free beer and children will get a free ice cream.

As a special challenge, the first 15 riders to ride up a particularly tough section of the trails without touching the ground will receive a voucher for a free bowl of mussels at the festival. Additional riders who complete the challenge will receive a recognition badge.

The Mussel Festival encourages local groups to join in and the festival promotes these groups. They will supply the bowls of free mussels and portable restrooms for Mussels in the Kettles. They also promote the event on the Mussel Festival website.

“There’s just a number of things that make it easier to hold an event,” Wood said, adding that the partnership is good for both events. “Maybe it’ll bring business to Whidbey Island and show off our island and the great mountain biking we have in our Kettles.”

Mussels in the Kettles is a major fundraiser for the Bicycle Club and a way to generate membership while having fun, Wood said.

Club vice president and event organizer Matt Plush had the idea for a mountain bike ride through the Kettles Trail System based on a charity ride in Redmond called the Stinky Spoke.

Wood said he heard great feedback from last year. His favorite comment was from a boy riding with his dad during the event.

“Daddy, this is the best day of my life,” the boy said, according to Wood.

This year’s Mussels in the Kettles is expected to be even better than last year’s, especially with Plush acting as a “trail maintenance demon” getting the Kettles trails ready for riders, Wood said.

The cost to enter is $20, plus $5 for a family member, which is less expensive than other rides Wood has attended. In order to add to their club of 70 members, the membership fee is waived for participants.

The club holds monthly meetings and rides, plus other ride opportunities and events throughout the year.

The club began in March 2010 because community members felt there was no voice on Whidbey Island for cycling, Wood said. The club supports and promotes cycling and it’s a good way to bring people together to advocate for safer roads, engage in mountain bike trail stewardship and support and create community cycling events.

Members enjoy road and trail riding, touring, racing, commuting and family rides, Wood said.

“There are a lot of riders out there and maybe people want to ride together,” Wood said.

“Our first year was spent getting to know each other through the meetings and riding activities. We gained the state of Washington’s ear regarding rumble strips and made contacts with local public works representatives. Our first year saw our first picnic ride where many kids got a taste of road riding and lots of adults consumed more calories than they burned. We joined forces to ride the Tour de Whidbey, and we had our first full moon ride,” Wood said.

Last year, the club also participated in Holland Happening, the elementary school bike rodeo, Bike to Work Month and more. They created events like a Halloween ride for children to search for treat-filled pumpkins on the Kettles trails and a memorial ride for a beloved cyclist and club founder.


Become a part of these activities through Mussels in the Kettles. The club asks participants to pre-register for Mussels in the Kettles at www. or on by searching for Mussels in the Kettles.



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