By Ron Newberry – Special to the Times
Elizabeth Umbanhowar had barely started the Sea, Trees, & Pie Bike Ride when a flock of large white birds in Crockett Lake caught her attention. “Are those pelicans?” Umbanhowar inquired.
She would later spot a Pileated Woodpecker during her 20-mile ride through scenic Central Whidbey on a gorgeous Sunday morning. “It’s a lovely event,” she said. “I will ride it again.”
Umbanhowar, from Seattle, was one of more than 100 riders who registered for the third annual ride that benefits the Whidbey Camano Land Trust.
Twenty-eight properties permanently protected by the Land Trust are showcased along the three routes that participants could choose from.
The event takes riders along the beach and wetlands and through farmland and woods. The ride features some the island’s most breathtaking vistas.
“I really think this is Whidbey at its best,” said avid cyclist Steve Shapiro of South Whidbey. “The sum of what you see, the Land Trust has protected so much of it. So has the National Park Service and Washington State Parks.”
Stephanie Garlichs, part of a committee of Land Trust board members who organized the event, was overjoyed with how the ride went.
“It was so fantastic,” she said. “My favorite part was the 6-year-old riding with training wheels. He and his brother didn’t think they could do the whole (5-mile) ride and they did. And they got pie and gummy bears at the end!”
A delicious slice of pie at the finish came from event sponsor Whidbey Pies. Other event sponsors were Prairie Center Red Apple Market, Skagit Cycle, Bayview Bicycles and Wayfinder Tours.
The event started and ended at a state park bird viewing platform across from the Land Trust’s Crockett Lake Wetland Preserve. Members of the Whidbey Audubon Society were on hand to share bird viewing scopes with riders and promote their upcoming Bird in the Hand Festival in Bayview on Sept. 22.
Riders got an added treat by the presence of white pelicans at Crockett Lake. The pelicans have only been coming to the lake in recent years, said birder Sarah Schmidt.
“We were very lucky to have pelicans in close view,” Schmidt remarked. “Crockett Lake is so important for birds.”
The Whidbey Camano Land Trust is a nonprofit nature conservation organization that actively involves the community in protecting, restoring and appreciating the important natural habitats and resource lands that support the diversity of life on the islands and in the waters of Puget Sound. For more information, visit www.wclt.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-222-3310.