Matt Plush (front) and Brad Nelson test out the trails a week before the 2017 Mussels in the Kettles ride. Each year, the Whidbey Island Bicycle Club pre-stages and sets up the trails to prepare for the annual rides. (Photo provided)

Matt Plush (front) and Brad Nelson test out the trails a week before the 2017 Mussels in the Kettles ride. Each year, the Whidbey Island Bicycle Club pre-stages and sets up the trails to prepare for the annual rides. (Photo provided)

Plan for a wheel good time

Bicycle rides Musselfest weekend are fundraisers for Whidbey Island Bicycle Club

Coupeville’s Musselfest is a weekend to savor the tasty mollusks. It’s also a time for exercise and friendly competition.

The Whidbey Island Bicycle Club is hosting two bike ride events for those wanting to do more than feast on mussels this weekend.

The “Mussels in the Kettles” bike ride is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 2 and the “Cookin’ in the Kettles” race is Sunday, March 3.

Mussels in the Kettles is a mountain bike ride that starts and ends at the Coupeville High School, runs along the Kettles trail and through the Fort Ebey and Kettles trail network. The Cookin’ in the Kettles race begins and ends at Fort Ebey.

Matt Plush, president of the club, said he expects about 300 people on Saturday and about 200 Sunday.

Already, 167 people were registered by Monday for the Mussels in the Kettles ride, he said.

“Every year (the number of participants) has gone up a little bit,” he said.

Mussels in the Kettles is also a “poker ride.” Riders collect cards along the trail and, at the end of the race, reveal their poker hand for a chance to win prizes.

If your hand isn’t so great, don’t fret: all participants receive a pair of socks and a token that can be redeemed for either an alcoholic beverage or an ice cream bar at Musselfest.

The event is family-oriented, Plush said, and the different levels of trail difficulty make it appropriate for all ages to participate.

The Easy/Green route is about 10 miles long, the Moderate/Blue about 12 miles, and the Expert/Black ride is for high-level bikers and is more than 15 miles.

The Mussels in the Kettles event can have the whole family working out together because “the green route is really pretty easy.”

Participants don’t need a big fancy bike to ride, he said. An entry-level bike works fine.

“I really don’t care what people ride,” he said, “as long as you don’t ride the wrong way (on the trail).”

The club, which has about 100 members, works to get the trails ready for the yearly event.

In the near decade that the bicycle club has held the Mussels in the Kettles ride, there’s never been rain during the event, Plush said.

Knock on wood.

“We’ve had that perfect Whidbey Island rain shadow,” he said.

As for the trails, they seem to be in good shape, even on the dry side, considering how damp and snowy February was, he said. Nor is it expected to be windy this weekend, which could pose hazards to bikers.

The event is the only fundraiser the club has, Plush said.

“That money goes right back into the trails on the island,” he said.

The Cookin’ in the Kettles race Sunday draws riders from all over, Plush said. The race is coordinated with the Auburn-based BuDu Racing company.

“The majority of people we get are (from) off the island,” he said — typically ranging from 20 to 30 on-island participants.

Cost to participate in the Mussels in the Kettles ride is $30 for an individual, $45 for a family of four. On race day, cost is $40 per person.

The Cookin’ in the Kettles race costs adults $33 online, or $40 on race day, with a discount for those under 18.

• For information, visit http://musselsinthekettles.net. To register for the Cookin’ in the Kettles race, visit https://www.bikesignup.com/Race/WA/Coupeville/WSMTBCookinintheKettles

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