Bike to battle cancer

Tour de Whidbey participants from last year
Tour de Whidbey participants from last year's event stop at a break station to refresh.
— image credit: Courtesy of the Whidbey General Hospital Foundation

Bicycle designer and marketer Grant Petersen said, “Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.”

Well, it’s a pretty safe bet that he wasn’t talking about the Tour de Whidbey at the time. In fact, it’s a pretty safe bet that Petersen has never heard of the Tour de Whidbey. Nevertheless, his words describe it well.

This weekend, a record breaking number of bicyclists are expected to participate in the ninth annual Tour de Whidbey, a fundraiser for the Whidbey General Hospital Foundation. Last year the event raised nearly $50,000 and had more than 500 people attend.

The event takes place on Saturday, Sept. 25, and riders have their choice between 10, 28, 40, 50, 60 and 100-mile routes. The routes span across the island, but all of them, except for the family-friendly 10-mile ride, start at the Greenbank Farm.

The routes are clearly marked, and there are several break stations for participants along the way.

Unlike past years, this year there will be a break stop in Langley to encourage bikers to see the town.

Whidbey General Hospital Foundation Executive Director Laura Blankenship said her main intent is to bring people in to raise money for the hospital, but she also wants to highlight the island’s beauty so visitors will be encouraged to come back.

“Every year we just try to give a better experience to the riders and try to introduce them into the different areas of Whidbey Island,” she said.

Registration forms can be found online or can be completed at the event. The cost, ranging between $0 and 100, covers route directions, maps, a pancake breakfast, break station refreshments and a chili feed. The money raised will go towards a new urology endoscopy system, which is used for the surgical intervention of bladder and prostrate cancer.

In addition to the rides, rehabilitation hospital staff will put on an adaptive bicycle demonstration at the Performing Arts Center of the Coupeville Middle-High School that gives people the opportunity to try out hand cycles, recumbent tricycles, side-by-side recumbent tandems and stick steering trikes. These specialty bikes make it possible for people with physical or mental disabilities to ride easier. Also, the emergency services staff will perform helmet checks for people to ensure it is secured properly. They have a few free helmets to give away.

Blankenship said the Tour events wouldn’t be possible without the help of nearly 150 volunteers. One of the main sponsors this year is the Whidbey Island Bank. Its staff will be running a break station for the family ride.

“This event is good for the island,” the bank’s Vice President and Marketing Manager Mary Bailey said. “We want to support the hosptial and make sure that the hospital has the equipment and materials they need to help everybody.”

Event breakdown

Registration: 28-100-mile rides, 7 to 9:30 a.m. at Greenbank Farm; 10-mile ride, noon to 3 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center of the Coupeville Middle-High School.

Pancake breakfast: 6:30 to 9 a.m. at Greenbank Farm.

Adaptive Bike Demonstration: Noon to 4 p.m. in the parking lot of the Performing Arts Center.

Chili feed: Noon to 4 p.m. at Greenbank Farm, and noon to 4 p.m. at the Coupeville registration site.

More information:

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