The first-ever "I Bike Sonoma County Century," presented by Whole Foods Market, will take place on Saturday, June 22, 2013. It joins several other upcoming "century rides" (approximately 100 miles) as well as other bicycle races, promotions and events as Sonoma County becomes increasingly bike-aware.
It's the latest effort by the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition to make Sonoma County "the best place possible for everyone to ride a bike," according to outreach director Sandra Lupien.
"We're holding our first-ever century bicycle ride event as a way of raising funds to support our efforts to promote bicycling for transportation and recreation throughout Sonoma County," she said.
"We're really pleased to have the sponsorship of Whole Foods Market," Lupien added. "I don't think we'd be able to do the ride without the support of Whole foods this first year."
Lisa Ludwigsen, marketing director of the Petaluma Whole Foods, noted that Whole Foods is coming of a $10,000 support grant to the Bicycle Coalition last year. "It's in Whole Foods' core values," she said, "to promote health and support the community."
The I Bike Sonoma County Century will offer four scenic routes of different length, from an 18 mile "fun family-friendly" route to the full 103-mile Century. The routes are, for the most part, Santa Rosa and south; the full Century ventures far west through Sebastopol and Valley Ford, then south to Tomales, west to Petaluma and through Sonoma Valley, before returning to Santa Rosa.
Though the routes were designed by the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, they are coordinated with primary sponsor Whole Foods Market to visit all their locations in the county - two in Santa Rosa, one each in Sebastopol, Petaluma, and Sonoma. The markets will serve as refreshment stations for riders, and a post-ride festival and lunch will be held at the Whole Foods Market at Coddingtown Mall, where all routes begin and end.
"Hopefully it's the first of many," said Ludwigsen. "We've never done anything like this before, but it's a worthy cause and it's going to be a fun day."
Other I Bike Sonoma County Century sponsors include J & D Services, Codding Enterprises, Coddingtown Mall, Elevengear, GHD, Kaiser Permanente, REI, ShiKai, and Sutter Health.
Lupien said they expect 1,000 riders to participate, and hopes they sign up early - registration has already begun for members of the Coalition. "The earlier people register the easier it is to organize the ride, make sure there's enough food, water and other support."
"For the fundraiser, thankfully, we've hired Terri Johnson to be our ride director," Lupien said. "She was the ride director for the American Lung Association Breathe Easy Ride for three years. She did a great job with that, and we're really luck that she joined our team.
Priority registration is now open at www.bikesonoma.org/century/ for Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition members and for anyone riding as a fundraiser. More information for potential fundraisers, including supporting materials, are on that web page.
General registration begins Monday at special "early-bird" prices. The fees are modest: as low as $15 for kids on the 18-mile ride, up to $110 for the full Century Ride participants. Early registration fees are slightly lower, and step up over the next few months. Registration for the ride ends June 15.
Though founded 2001 "as a small grass-roots effort launched by probably a dozen volunteers," according to Lupien, the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition has become increasingly energetic as they have grown into a 1200 member organization.
"We've always been super-active and motivated around making Sonoma County the best place possible for everyone to ride a bike," said Lupien, "but we're just able to do a lot more now than we could have in early years."
One sign of this increased activity is the recently introduced bicyclists safety initiative, the Vulnerable User Protection Ordinance. Last month it was adopted by the City of Sebastopol, though other communities and Sonoma County Supervisors continue to study it.
SBCB is scheduled to make a presentation about the Vulnerable User Protection Ordinance at the Healdsburg City Council meeting to be held on Tuesday, Feb. 19 (rescheduled from their regular Monday meeting due to the holiday).
Other Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition programs include the Safe Routes to School Program, the Sonoma County Bike Expo to be held on August 18, and Bike to Work Day, set this year for May 9.
More information about the SCBC, its purpose and programs, can be found on their website at bikesonoma.org.