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Summer Guide 2017

click to enlarge Don’t miss Summer Parkways on June 21.
  • Don’t miss Summer Parkways on June 21.

FOR STARTERS

Plug Into the Local Bike Community

The journey of a thousand miles, the old saying goes, begins with joining a single Facebook page. So if you want to go being from a car potato to a svelte, attractive bike commuter, start by joining Get Around Spokane Using Pedals, a Facebook group with the not-so-apt acronym GASUP.

"Share your experiences and ideas on safety, advocacy, commuting, racing, recreational riding, bike hacks, shop rides, etc.," local cycling enthusiast Hank Greer writes in a pinned post on the page. It's a great spot to be able to chat with other riders, who can answer your questions, like "Where do I get a good used bike?" "What cool, fun bike events are coming up?" and "When you're biking in traffic, how do you avoid getting squooshed?"

Also check out the Walk Bike Bus Spokane page (walkbikebus.org), which offers tips specific to those who want to begin to ditch the car and bike to work.

Send Your Kids to Tri Triathlon

Long before Ironman triathletes were Ironmen, they were Ironkids. So for the little future Ironmen in your family, ages 6-14, give them a taste of a tri-flavor sample scoop of triathlon: Swim in the Liberty Park pool, then bike for a bit, then run around the park.

And if your kids, say, only like the biking park of the triathlon, and don't want to get wet, that's fine. They can do one, two or all three legs.

The race is Saturday, Aug. 19, but register at spokaneparks.org to get the greatest prize of all: an event T-shirt.

click to enlarge Beer + bikes = A great way to explore the Ale Trail. - EMMA ROGERS
  • Emma Rogers
  • Beer + bikes = A great way to explore the Ale Trail.

Bike the Ale Trail

Drinking and driving is bad, people. Rather, it's driving that's bad. But biking? As long as you're not too tipsy and play it safe, a bike is the perfect way to get from place to place on the beloved Inland Northwest Ale Trail. Pick 12 local breweries from the map at inlandnwaletrail.com, and then — over the span of a few different outings, if you wish — get your map stamped by a tasting at each brewery. At the end of it all, you're eligible for a 32-ounce mini growler.

In other words: If the Centennial Trail's not your jam, the Ale Trail just might be.

Bone Up On Your Skills

Always really wanted to get into mountain biking, but haven't had the opportunity to take your bike game beyond occasionally going over a curb? There's good news: Ride Dynamics offers a bunch of skills classes aimed at all levels of would-be mountain bikers. Local mountain bike instructor Kyle Springer offers private mountain bike instruction classes — think piano lessons, but in a helmet. He also holds a number of group classes throughout the summer.

On June 17, for example, Ride Dynamics holds a women's mountain bike skills clinic at Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho. (Tickets are $150, and come with a gondola pass.)

If you have kids, you can send them to five-day mountain biking camps on June 19-23 or July 10-14. More details at ridedynamics.bike.

click to enlarge Want to push yourself? OK, try the Cross-Washington Mountain Bike Route.
  • Want to push yourself? OK, try the Cross-Washington Mountain Bike Route.

A Summer Tradition

Think of a block party, but mobile: Summer Parkways is a huge annual community event where neighborhoods close down several streets between Manito and Comstock parks to cars and open them up to bikers, skaters, longboarders, bicyclists, tricyclists and any other kind of human-powered form of transportation. Along the route, there'll be all sorts of other physical activities that the in- and out-of-shape can participate in, including "yoga, Zumba, hula hoops, gymnastics, tai chi, fencing, dancing, Pilates, self-defense, jump rope, hacky sack, and martial arts."

This year, it's on Wednesday, June 21 from 6 to 9 pm. More details at summerparkways.com.

THE NEXT LEVEL

Bike the Entire State

Go long. Go far. Go across the whole of Washington. You can bike on conventional roads, sure. (We don't recommend I-90, for the record.) But if you have a mountain bike, there's an even better option: the Cross-Washington Mountain Bike Route. It starts at the Idaho border near Tekoa, and runs 170 miles along the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Even on a mountain bike with suspension, the trail can be intense. (You might have to get off and walk your bike up some steep hills.) And don't underestimate the vast Eastern Washington emptiness until you get to Ritzville. But there are plenty of great stops along the way. Stop at Twede's Cafe in North Bend and have a slice of Twin Peaks pie. Swing by the breweries in Ellensburg.

Don't forget to bring granola bars and, you know, probably a water bottle. Visit crosswashington.weebly.com or the Cross-Washington Mountain Bike Route Facebook page for more information.

click to enlarge 8 Lakes Leg Aches takes you by, as the name suggests, eight lakes!
  • 8 Lakes Leg Aches takes you by, as the name suggests, eight lakes!

Go Dark

Biking 100 miles? Bah! That's starter stuff. But biking 100 miles starting at midnight, on a route that stretches across dirt country roads, up steep hills, and down dips and valleys? That's the Midnight Century, and that's next-level bike riding.

Meet at the Elk in Browne's Addition before 11:59 pm on Aug. 5. Come with a friend, a reliable GPS system and food and water for the long ride ahead.

"There is no support, no organizer, no host, and no one is accepting any liability for any road condition or participant," warns the event's website (midnightcentury.com). When they're that clear that they accept absolutely no liability for whatever fate may befall you, you know it's gonna be good.

Careen Downhill in the Enduro Jam

I respond to the adrenaline-pumping thrill of biking downhill by squeezing my brakes as tight as I can. But you mountain bikers who have the need for speed? Check out Schweitzer's Enduro Jam. Buy a race ticket for $20 and a lift ticket (if you don't already have a Schweitzer season pass) for $30. Spend all day on Aug. 12 practicing.

Aug. 13 is the main event: Three different downhill mountain biking courses at Schweitzer Mountain, all beginning from the same starting point. Here's the twist: You can race any of the three courses as many times as you want the entire day. Your best times for each of the three courses are combined, and that total is pitted against all the other competitors.

Even if you don't win — as if that's a possibility — you're free to feast at the winner's BBQ before the awards ceremony.

Remember: It's all downhill from here.

Dominate 8 Lakes Leg Aches

Let's note this first: The 8 Lakes Leg Aches race's logo is a fish in sunglasses riding a bicycle. A fish may not need a bicycle, sure, but that doesn't mean they don't enjoy a good bike ride every now and then. The full 8 Lakes route is a 75-mile loop that starts at the Kaiser Permanente building near downtown Spokane and heads west, then south, passing by, count 'em, eight lakes (Willow, Granite, Silver, Medical, Clear, Chapman, Kepple and Fish).

Finish strong, and Ben and Jerry's ice cream awaits you at the end.

Riders can also choose from 45- and 30-mile versions. Check-in for the big race starts at 6:30 am on Saturday, Aug. 5.

Entry fees are $60 with a T-shirt, but you can (and should!) pay more, because the proceeds go to Lutheran Community Services Northwest programs, like the Sexual Assault and Family Trauma Response Center. Register and get more details at lcsnw.org/8lakesride. ♦

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