Roadies carry bike campaign

Mike Merickel’s passion for bikes is evident in body art and attire. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Mike Merickel’s passion for bikes is evident in body art and attire.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

Meet Mike Merickel: retired Navy pilot, avid cyclist and this year’s Like2Bike winner.

Last month, he logged 1,030 miles on two wheels.

“When I get a passion, I really get a passion,” he said of his interest in cycling, which began about five years ago. Before the cycling obsession, Merickel ran marathons.

The Like2Bike campaign, headed by Maribeth Crandell as a volunteer project for the WSU Climate Stewards program, challenged the Oak Harbor community to bike instead of drive.

Merickel took the challenge to heart and only drove his car twice last month.

By mid-May, Merickel thought he’d reach 900 miles. But why settle for 900 when 1,000 is within reach?

In the end, Merickel biked 30 of the 31 days in May, and logged even more mileage.

“Bonnie from the bike shop said no one would believe me if I had an even thousand,” he said of his decision to log an extra 30 miles.

Merickel’s passion for bikes is evident in body art and attire. On his right calf, Merickel sports a tattoo of a gear-shaft and a cyclist, in addition to a bike chain tattooed around each ankle. The lower-left leg is an ode to the tandem cycle, and tandem partner, his wife, Nancy.

The couple often bike together on their tandem road bike.

“We recycled, shopped and did most every errand by bike for the past month and enjoyed every minute,” he said.

Crandell joked that Nancy could have won an honorary award for the Like2Bike campaign because of the numerous tandem rides she took with her husband.

Merickel estimates that he and Nancy must have ridden 400 miles last month on their tandem.

Four more Like2Bike participants received awards, including Oak Harbor city employees Eric Johnston, who rode 372 miles; Arnie Peterschmidt, for 295 miles; Coupeville Middle School science teacher Terry Welch, for 218 miles; and Oak Harbor City Councilman Rick Almberg, for 178 miles.

Eight city employees participated in this year’s Cascade Bicycle Club Bike to Work Contest. The team, dubbed, “Team Scratch and Shift,” logged 378 miles over the course of the month.

Johnston said the city work crews will label bike routes with a new “bike stencil” in the near future. Exactly which streets will don the large, white bike route markings is yet undetermined, he said.

Designated bike routes are different from bike lanes, Johnston said. Bike routes are marked to alert bikers that the roadway is considered a bike-friendly street, and to alert drivers that the road must be shared with their two-wheeled counterparts. Bike lanes, which are separate from the road and require a minimum of four feet in addition to the regular street lane, are for bikes only, he said. Many island roadways are too narrow to accommodate both car and bike lanes, he said.

The Like2Bike campaign will return next year, Crandell said, with the hope that even more people will try their hand at pedal-powered commutes and daily errands.

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