Sixth annual ride big success

Forget the weather gurus that predicted rain and high winds would lash Whidbey Island Saturday, Sept. 21 — it was time to take a bicycle ride.

Saturday’s sixth annual Tour de Whidbey had 352 riders sign up to participate in the event and tour director Jan Tepper said of those who paid their entry fees, 333 showed up.

“I think we did really well with storms being forecasted,” she said. “I’m sure people heard about the rain and wind last night.”

In her third year being involved with the tour, Tepper said she now runs the event with “a lot of help” from other people.

“This is a great event, a total win-win,” she said. “The hospital makes money they use to pur-

chase valuable equipment and resources and people ride to get healthy.”

Riders had their choice of taking 25, 50 or 100-mile rides along

the highways and byways, over hill and dale on Whidbey Island, and Tepper said the event brings a lot of people from off island on to the island so they can experience

the beauty of this place.

The tour began and ended at the Greenbank Farm, which was a busy place during the noon hour on Saturday, with some riders completing their 25-mile trips and others stopping off to take a break before heading out on the second leg of their century rides.

Equipment ranging from tandems to tricycles were present and the riders hailed from all over the Pacific Northwest and even further.

One of the riders traveling the

farthest distance was Hutchinson, Kan., resident Mike Neuway.

Neuway, a first-timer at the Tour de Whidbey, said he works for a company that does alcohol and drug testing for oil and gas companies, a job that takes him all around the country, and came out

just for the ride.

“I used to be stationed out here and I had a buddy who was into bikes, so I thought it would be neat to come out someday and do a bike ride,” he said. “This is ‘someday’.”

Neuway said he rode 60 miles, but had no time to complete the 100-mile course.

“I had my bike shipped out via UPS and I have to get it back to Bicycles Northwest in Oak Harbor to get it packed up and they close at 5 p.m.” he said. “I hope to complete all of the ride next year. I’ll be back.”

Several father-daughter teams participated in the ride including dental hygienist Beth Surlin from Redmond and father, Joel French, who said he is “working on being retired,” from Marysville.

“We are first-time riders and we did the 25 miles today,” Surlin said. “It was a hilly ride, but beautiful.”

“They start you right out with a mountain,” French said.

Both Surlin and French said they will be back next year.

“We’ll up the ante a little bit next year,” French said, “We’ll ride a little farther and contribute a little more.”

Riding his Tadpole Trike John Roberts, who said he lives in Pierce County between Auburn and Sumner, also remarked on how hilly the course was.

“The downhills were all right, but they are followed by an uphill,” he laughingly said.

Also a first-time rider on the tour, Roberts said he rode the 25-

mile route.

“I’m planning on being back here next year, and I also plan to ride in the Seattle to Portland event next year,” he said.

Accompanied by her father, Gary Sterling, from the Los Angeles area, Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce Director Terri Bjork, from Coupeville, kept smiling as she pushed her bicycle up the hill to the Greenbank Farm parking lot.

“Terri bought a new bike for the event and the chain came loose,” Sterling said.

“We are both first-time riders and my dad came up to ride with me,” Bjork said. “We had fun, and we’ll both do it again next year.”

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