Cycling Over Sixty

The Best Bike Club

June 22, 2023 Tom Butler Season 1 Episode 14
Cycling Over Sixty
The Best Bike Club
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Tom discusses his remaining training time before the 206-mile Seattle to Portland ride. With 23 day left, he needs to figure out how to maximize his training and ensure that he is fully recovered before his much anticipated day one launch.

Paul Tolmé, the Content Strategy & Media Relations Manager for Cascade Bicycle Club, joins the podcast to share a wealth of information about Cascade and the STP. He highlights aspects that create a compelling case for Cascade Bicycle Club being the best club in the nation. The work being done by Cascade covers all aspect of cycling from beginner biking education to bike friendly policy advocacy. The episode is ideal for anyone interested in the STP and why it is so well managed. Or for those who just want to hear about an exceptional organization that is effectively working to make the world a better place.

Links for the episode:

CTS -  Tapering and What to Do the Week Before Your Cycling Race: trainright.com/tapering-week-before-race/

Bike Radar - Reducing Your Training Your Training Before a Big Race -
www.bikeradar.com/advice/fitness-and-training/how-reducing-your-training-before-a-big-race-can-boost-your-performance/

Cascade Blog - cascade.org/blog

League of American Bicyclists Rankings - bikeleague.org/bfa/states/ranking/

Smithsonian Buffalo Soldier Story - www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-black-buffalo-soldiers-who-biked-across-the-american-west-180980246/


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Consider becoming a member of the Cycling Over Sixty Strava Club. www.strava.com/clubs/CyclingOverSixty

Please send comments, questions and especially content suggestions to me at tom.butler@teleiomedia.com

Show music is "Come On Out" by Dan Lebowitz. Find him here : lebomusic.com

Tom Butler:

This is the Cycling Over 60 podcast, episode 14, the Best Bike Club, and I'm your host, tom Butler. Hello, if you are new to the podcast, or welcome back if you have listened before. As I discuss my journey to the 206 mile Seattle to Portland bike ride, supported by the Cascade Bicycle Club, i am down 23 days of preparation for the ride. I honestly wish I was more prepared. There are a number of details I still need to work out. For one, I am still debating what to take with me on the ride. I normally ride with a Topeak MTX bag on my rack with a bunch of supplies. I definitely won't need everything I normally take, but I think I will feel insecure without my normal stuff. I need to find a much smaller bag. I do think I will keep the rack on. However, i also need to figure out how many days I can actually ride.

Tom Butler:

I recently looked at information concerning when to stop training before a long ride. I haven't been on many rides since I did the 200 miles in 4 days recently. It's because my legs feel like they needed a lot of time to heal. When I rode, i felt like my quad muscles were weak, so I know I want to be smart about not riding really heavy right up to the first day of the STP. On the Carmackle training systems website, trainrightcom, they recommended that training should stop 7-10 days before the event. Cyclingweeklycom recommended tapering training 2 weeks before the ride. By gradar I said that, quote fatigue level falls faster than your fitness level. I think this means that you can maintain fitness even though you are letting your body recover. The bike radar article got a little technical. I will link it in the show notes if you are interested. I think I will need to get some input from a coach or someone to figure this out.

Tom Butler:

My plan, though, for now is to focus on the climbing ride that I do and try to build as much muscle as possible before July 19th, jan 19th being a week out from the STP, so that gives me only 17 days. In addition, i am doing a 100 mile ride with 14 days to go until July 9th. I will need at least one day to recover from that ride, maybe even two, so that leaves me with 12 days of actual training. Get my legs as strong as possible. I think the week before I will do no more than 10 miles on rides and I will stop 3 days before the event, or I might just do some really light riding that week. So I still have some work to do to really dial this in as much as possible.

Tom Butler:

Paul Tomei from Cascade Bicycle Club heard my interview with David Balladou, the STP ambassador, that I had on the June 8th episode, and he reached out to offer to come on the podcast. I'm so glad he did, because it is a perfect opportunity to learn more about the great organization behind the STP. Here is our discussion. I'm constantly talking about Cascade Bicycle Club because I'm constantly talking about the STP. That's what this is all about. Right now is my adventure doing the STP, and so I wanted to let people hear some information about Cascade Bicycle Club, and I am so happy to have Paul Tomei join me. Thanks for coming on, paul.

Paul Tolmé:

Thank you very much for having us Tom

Tom Butler:

yeah, talk a little bit about your role at Cascade.

Paul Tolmé:

Yeah, i'm on the communications team at Cascade Bicycle Club, so my title is Media Relations Manager and Content Strategist. So it's a fancy title, but essentially media relations. I talk to reporters and members of the media, such as yourself, telling them about all the good works that Cascade Bicycle Club does And the content strategist part of it. I'm the blogger. I create a work with a lot of videographers and create a lot of hopefully good stories to share the good works that Cascade does and inform our members about all the work we're doing as well, because we have a lot of folks, for instance, who might join the club because they enjoy our rides like STP, the Kaiser Permanente, seattle to Portland, presented by Alaska Airlines, but they might not know about our advocacy work and our education work, and so we have big education programs, advocacy efforts trying to get more safe street conditions, more bike lanes, more bike infrastructure and such. So I'm basically the person who tries to tell the story of what Cascade does to our community.

Tom Butler:

And you recently got to cycle with the governor.

Paul Tolmé:

It did. That was a fun time. We had trails to trails, conservancy gathering out in squim on the Olympic Discovery Trail And the governor Governor Jay Inslee, is a longtime bicyclist. What a fun guy to ride with. So, yeah, we got to do a 30 mile ride about a dozen of us with the governor plus a few of his personnel, just to make sure he didn't get a flat or have any problems along the way, And he was joking and chatting the whole time. What a real fun and honor to ride with our governor Nice.

Tom Butler:

My goal is for people to know a whole lot more about Cascade Bicycle Club by the time we're done today. So we don't have time to go into everything about Cascade Bicycle Club history, but I have a couple of things in particular I'd like you to talk about. First of all, how did the club get started?

Paul Tolmé:

Yeah, it was started by two brothers back in 1970. And they essentially called a meeting to start a bike club in the Seattle area. And about 300 people showed up and they thought, wow, there's something here, and so they created a club 53 years later, We are 10,000 members, a statewide organization across Washington state, and we have so many programs teaching people to ride bikes, working public schools teaching bike curriculum. We put on these big events like SDP. Thank you, Tom, for training and riding SDP. And we also have advocacy and policy initiatives as well.

Tom Butler:

So well, let's talk about that in a bit. The second piece of history is the bicycle bill in 1983. Can you briefly talk about that bill and then how the legacy of that work by Cascade still benefits cyclists today?

Paul Tolmé:

Yeah, so essentially this kind of a bill of rights idea that bicyclists have a right to ride on the roads. That was always not necessarily a defined concept And this was long before our time, but there were folks who were ticketed riding On Seattle streets And so Cascade, in the early days, was really pushed hard to to codify the rights that bicyclists, people who ride bikes, have to use our roadways. And that work giving you know, advocating on behalf of people's right to bicycle continues today. You know, a few years back we got the safety stop law in place in Washington, which essentially allows you on a bike to treat a stop sign as a yield sign If coast is clear and you have the right of way. If you don't have the right of way, if there are cars there before you, then you have to stop and put your foot down. But we passed this law because it's a measurable safety improvement.

Paul Tolmé:

Being stopped at an intersection amidst moving cars is a very dangerous place to be And there are many occasions, as you know, when you're riding a bike you're coming to a stop sign. There's there may be no cars around, or maybe there's one 100 yards away and you have plenty of time to safely pass through that intersection do so. So that's another example that the three foot passing big cars must pass bicyclists with at least three feet, they have to move into the other lane if possible. And car door opening laws essentially, you know you must get. You can't open your car door into a person riding a bicycle, and so there's a whole slate of laws that cascade.

Paul Tolmé:

And now our sister organization, washington Bikes, which Washington Bikes is the 501C4 arm, our advocacy arm in Olympia. Now they are working there And recently, thanks to the work of Washington Bikes, we have an electric bike subsidy coming down the road. We got the largest funding package last year for bike and pedestrian infrastructure. And so cascade is one of the main reasons that Washington State has been voted the best place to bicycle in the country by the League of American Bicyclists for many years in a row. You know we've sort of been number one forever. We recently do some other states. We got bumped to number three, although we got the feeling that was because they were tired of giving Washington State the one award every year, so they looked for some other reasons. But the point being, Washington State is one of the best places to ride a bike today Thanks to the long history and hard work of Cascade Bicycle Club and our partner organization Washington Bikes.

Tom Butler:

What are some of the like really current or some of the future things that Washington Bikes is advocating for?

Paul Tolmé:

Well, currently, thanks to the huge $1.3 billion move ahead Washington transportation package that was passed last year, we got record amounts of infrastructure funding. So statewide in future years you'll see more bike lanes and more sidewalks as well and more safe infrastructure across the state. It was also a really meaningful aspect of that law called the Complete Streets Program, where any project over $500,000 street re-engineering, redesign project, if they want to get state funding they have to do a complete streets process, design process whereby they look at bike lanes, they look at adding sidewalks. As you know, in the United States we have a history of roads being for cars only, and so Cascade is in Washington bikes behind a lot of the work to really change that paradigm so that everybody can travel safely.

Paul Tolmé:

The other aspect of that law is the statewide school-based education program. Cascade is contracted with the state to expand our Let's Go program, which is currently in Seattle Public School Systems as well as in the Edmunds School System. Let's Go is a public school-based bicycling curriculum and safety education program. So we supply schools with fleets of bikes, helmets, we teach the PE teachers, the gym teachers in bike curriculum so that then they can deliver the curriculum to their elementary and middle school students, so roughly 20,000-ish kids in the Seattle Public School System currently enjoying that program that will be expanding statewide, which I believe that is the largest sort of youth-based statewide bike education curriculum in the country. So once again really leading there with bikes.

Tom Butler:

That's incredible. You have a whole department that's an education department, and I just think that's such a wise decision to be looking to the future in that way.

Paul Tolmé:

Yes, i grew up riding a bike as a kid. I learned as a child, but not everybody does. So we want to make sure that kids do get that essential skill, because bikes are freedom, right? Maybe you, like me, remembered just wow, i could ride my bike to the next town or I could start riding to school The freedom that comes with learning to ride a bike for both fun and for transportation. We also teach adults how to ride Who didn't have the opportunity to learn when they were kids. We want everybody to really enjoy the benefits health, recreational and transportation benefits that bicycles provide.

Tom Butler:

That includes maintenance education as well.

Paul Tolmé:

Yeah, we have learn-to-ride classes. We offer urban cycling techniques classes, so maybe somebody knows how to ride a bike, but they've never bike commuted, so that would be a slightly more advanced class than our learn-to-ride. But, yes, bike maintenance classes, fix-a-flat classes, for instance. We're now starting electric bike maintenance classes. So we really want to be the one stop shop for folks in Washington state who want to learn to ride a bike. Ride a bike. Engage with our advocacy efforts across the board.

Tom Butler:

I think you guys are really accomplishing that mission of being the one stop place. It's super impressive And one of the programs that I just love, kind of the whole feel for it. the whole focus of it, is the food bank delivery program. Can you highlight the community interaction that this program and others provide?

Paul Tolmé:

Oh, thank you for asking about the peddling relief project, but one thing I forgot to mention is our equity initiative. So we offer sliding scale pricing on all of those bike lessons and fix-a-flat classes and stuff that I was talking about.

Paul Tolmé:

We don't want people to not be able to afford to take our classes. But back to the peddling relief project. Yeah, this is a really real community mutual aid type of program where we partner with Seattle area food banks to both rescue food at grocery stores. A lot of food that grocery stores can't sell oftentimes is perishable fruit, vegetables, high value stuff, maybe avocados that are ripe, and they can't put them on the shelf for another day. That would go into the compost heap or in the waste stream.

Paul Tolmé:

And so during the pandemic, when food banks experienced a real crisis of need, one of my colleagues, maxwell Burton, began this program, starting with just one food bank in the university district And now it's expanded to seven food banks.

Paul Tolmé:

And we partner with PCC, community markets, some Safeways and Trader Joe's, as well as, in the summertime, a lot of community gardens set of extra produce to both use bikes to rescue, pick up that food.

Paul Tolmé:

Our volunteer riders use electric bikes, but they also use regular pedal bikes because we have a fleet of bike trailers that we loan And then you bike this produce or food from the grocery store back to the food bank where it is then repackaged, repboxed, oftentimes in standard size boxes that we can fit on bike trailers or on electric bikes, and then pedaled out to those food bank clients, many of whom are older individuals who might not have access to a vehicle or, during the pandemic, for health reasons, they couldn't come into the food bank. And so it's an amazing program that really shows the power of bicycles and the bicycling community to have a positive impact, to really solve community challenges, of which food insecurity is one. So we want to show the many ways that bicycles can be used. They're not just for recreational riding, they are, you know, people bicycle for a million reasons and we want to represent all of those interests, and we're about to pass a million pounds of food rescued and delivered by bike.

Tom Butler:

Wow, yeah. Well, cascade is a unique organization for gathering information, and you know you talked about being a one-stop shop. All the information that you're gathering, that's could be used to foster a bicycle ecosystem. What role does Cascade fulfill in that effort? Well, our policy team.

Paul Tolmé:

for instance, we have a Seattle policy manager who works with the Seattle Department of Transportation on advancing the bicycle network. So bike lane projects as well as Greenway streets. So yes, you mentioned that ecosystem. People really need routes where they can really get from A to B safely And, as cities like Seattle and across the country add more infrastructure, oftentimes you have a bike lane that suddenly comes to an end.

Tom Butler:

And there you are. Where do I go?

Paul Tolmé:

from here I have to now ride next to cars and I don't feel safe. We're really trying to create that ecosystem where people have safe routes to all major destinations schools, libraries, through downtown cores And we see that with the 2nd Avenue and 4th Avenue protected bike lanes that now go the length of town. It wasn't very long ago that those didn't exist, and I've only lived in Seattle since 2016. And it's improved tremendously in the time I've been here in terms of the infrastructure And there is more infrastructure coming.

Paul Tolmé:

That's something that for folks who are bike commuters and they want better, safer bicycles, i would say look into Cascade Bicycle Club, consider becoming a member. We have trainings. We have a program called Your Streets, your Say. It used to be called the Advocacy Leadership Institute, and this is a program where we essentially try to train community. Groups Could be an individual such as yourself who wanted to talk to the county or city officials about adding a bike lane here or there, and so that's how we sort of try to train the community as well in how to engage with their elected representatives.

Tom Butler:

Awesome. Talk about the Major Taylor Project and I know that you have similar empowerment programs like that. Talk about what Cascade has in mind for those programs.

Paul Tolmé:

Yeah, the Major Taylor Project is an incredible program. It's an after-school program, it's part youth development, part bicycling skills. We work with Black and Brown and Indigenous youth in South Seattle and in Tacoma in communities of color, where maybe these youth don't have opportunities to get a bike or learn the skills necessary. So we lead rides. Our Major Taylor Project leaders lead rides. They do build a bike programs in the winter, when it's cold and rainy, where youth can learn bike maintenance skills and essentially learn how to build up a bike of their own that they can then keep. So that's really one of our equity programs.

Paul Tolmé:

Equity and ensuring that nobody is denied the right to ride a bike is really important to Cascade. Youth education is something we really are strongly behind. I mentioned our let's go and our statewide public school education programs. Teaching kids to ride bikes and youth to ride bikes is incredibly valuable for society because these are skills that they can take with them through their entire lives for better health. riding a bike for transportation is so much more affordable than owning a car. We want more kids as well as more people of all ages riding bicycles.

Tom Butler:

I have a daughter and a son-in-law that lived in downtown Seattle and they're very interested in the environment, so they have one electric car between them and then most days he bikes to work. Pretty much every day he benefits from the work done by Cascade Bicycle Club. What would you highlight about biking and environmental justice?

Paul Tolmé:

You mentioned environmental justice, thank you. Climate justice is one of our values, of our organization. People can go to our website and read our mission, our vision and our values, and climate justice is one of those. Well, transportation, automobiles primarily, are the leading source of carbon emissions, of climate pollution in both Washington state and nationwide. So the more people we can get riding bikes, the more we can bring down our carbon emissions, and so that's a valuable aspect of really leaning on bikes for transportation, and that goes hand in hand with us fighting for more safe, protected infrastructure so that people feel safe riding a bicycle.

Paul Tolmé:

Your son-in-law is using the bike lanes that Cascade has fought for At the state level Washington bikes with training our youth, teaching our youth to ride bikes.

Paul Tolmé:

Hopefully they will become transportation riders in the future where they're biking to school, biking to work, to the grocery store, thereby eliminating traffic congestion, air pollution as well as carbon emissions. Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington bikes are very aware of the climate crisis And we see biking and walking frankly, making our communities more bikeable and walkable can really be a great way we can progress and lower some of these transportation emissions that the single occupancy car drivers, who are the leading source of auto pollution, smog, as well as carbon emissions in our country, and that's simply redesigning the way a lot of our communities have been built. People have a reasonable, rational fear for not necessarily wanting to ride through whoever the city or town that they live in, because our streets weren't necessarily designed from the start to be safe for both bikes and pedestrians. And so now that's the dynamic we're working with, trying to retrofit in the future, make all of our streets safer.

Tom Butler:

Now my son-in-law. They live right on Second. Avenue and then he used to take the ferry across to work and so he could bike down and throw his bike on the ferry. You know, he's kind of an example of someone that's living the benefits of having some legislation and some action by city leaders to improve the bikeability of Seattle.

Paul Tolmé:

That's great. I tell your son-in-law to become a Cascade member. He is Yay.

Tom Butler:

He for sure is yeah, And he'll be doing the STP with me too, So that's really fun.

Paul Tolmé:

Fantastic.

Tom Butler:

I am a bit concerned about two climate issues right now for my STP training, but also in the future. One is a strong El Nino bringing a hot summer I don't do that great biking hard in the heat And the second is how climate change is increasing the wildfire risk and the accompanying air quality issues. Does Cascade have anyone looking into the impact of climate change on cycling in the Northwest?

Paul Tolmé:

Absolutely. I mean, climate change is an existential crisis to going outdoors and breathing healthy air. As we saw, Living here in Seattle, a couple of not last summer, but the summer before we had these big fires in Northern California, oregon and up in British Columbia which turned our air smoky and hazy. That's a big concern, obviously, which is why we support efforts to bring down carbon emissions and get the climate crisis under control. Are we looking into that issue? Absolutely, that's a big subject, however, and so the way we really want to engage is ensure that we can have as many people bicycling as possible, which will lower our regions, our own carbon emissions. In terms of the STP and wildfire hazard, we have contingency plans. We would hope that that would never happen, where a smoky summer could overlap with some of our major rides, but we know it's potential in the future And so we do have contingency plans Were that to happen. I don't want to get into all those right now, but let's hope that it doesn't happen.

Paul Tolmé:

And because STP is a 44-year-old event, one of the longest-running and largest big group rides in the country, it's kind of an iconic event in the Pacific Northwest, as you know. It's interesting, though historically, the only time. It was canceled prior to the pandemic when we were not allowed to host big events for health reasons. The Mount St Helens explosion occurred And we couldn't ride south toward Portland. But that was the year we created our ride to Vancouver Bridge, columbia, and that has remained and is now at the end of August, the ride from Seattle to Vancouver. And party RSVP we try to come up with clever, funny acronyms for some of our rides. So you're doing STP. RSVP is another longtime favorite ride of many community members. In it. It's a real great way to get out and ride and see the beauty of the Northwest but also at the same time support Cascade Bicycle Club and our work, because these rides are fundraisers so that we can do our education and advocacy work. So anybody who pays to enter one of our rides is supporting our mission and we thank them greatly.

Tom Butler:

Well, i have wanted to do the STP for over 20 years. I thought that I'd missed my chance, so I'm pretty excited to be doing it for the first time at 60 years old. I think my interest in the STP just points to the epic reputation of the ride. Can you give some details on, like how the STP got started?

Paul Tolmé:

Yeah, it started out as a small, relatively small ride compared to the 5 to 6,000 people we have doing it now. Back in the early in the 2000s we had 10,000 riders. One and my gosh, what a massive ride. That's almost too big. And so we kind of capped it at 8,000 for a number of years And the pandemic shut us down for a couple of years And so we're hoping to get about 6,000 people on this ride.

Paul Tolmé:

Historically, wow, i mean, these are two iconic cities in the Northwest, both with real, thriving and deep bicycle cultures. So it started out as a ride with early Cascade Bicycle Club members, a couple hundred folks, and it has grown into this now well-organized traveling circus. The logistics required to get 6,000 people riding bikes between Seattle and Portland is incredible marking the routes, providing all of the aid stations and mechanical stops along the way. The logistics are incredible and I salute the events team members who are able to pull this off year after year. But we also rely on hundreds of volunteers And I encourage folks who might be interested in Cascade to consider volunteering.

Paul Tolmé:

It's a great way to get points which can be used to, for instance, pay for your STP If you had put in a few hours of helping to stuff the packets that will be mailed out, or doing other or working at an 8. Well, you're going to be riding, so you won't be working one of the rest or lunch stops along the way, but there are lots of volunteer opportunities. With Cascade And STP, as you mentioned, is this iconic Pacific Northwest event that really ties together the bicycle community. So thank you for riding it, tom. I'm encouraged and excited for you and your son-in-law. The only bummer is when you work for Cascade by Skid Club, every staff member is working And so I won't get a chance to ride it, but maybe in future years.

Tom Butler:

Yeah, yeah, that is a bummer. I've been told so many times that people get spoiled. They get used to how well STP is organized and then they'll go to someplace else on a long ride And they'll see the contrast, You know. They'll see how spoiled they are with the STP staff. So get on everybody there for all that you do. Cascade collaborates with Portland Bicycling Club for the STP. Could you talk about that partnership? And also, it seems like there's a genuine spirit of collaboration at Cascade. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Paul Tolmé:

Yes, we try to partner with as many non-profits, other bike clubs, such as in Portland, wherever we can. I mean this relates to our community food bank rides, for instance. We really want to make bicycles sort of a cornerstone of all healthy communities And so for the bicycle club they provide finish line support. For us They kind of staff, some of the free bike parking.

Paul Tolmé:

I heard you asking about that There is during your last podcast.

Paul Tolmé:

There is bike parking there, secure and monitored, so after you finish riding you'll be able to put your bike on a rack and go enjoy some food and maybe have a beer and get your picture taken.

Paul Tolmé:

And so they are sort of our analogous group in Portland and we support their mission and their efforts to improve bicycling in Portland. But yes, a lot of the rest stops along the way are staffed by community groups. We have community groups that make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for us And we pay them. We contract with them, pay them a fee that then helps them carry out their missions while providing us and our riders with a great service. Working with the whole ecosystem of other non-profits out there, both in bicycling and outside of bicycling, is something that we really try to do, and we're excited about this statewide bicycle education program for that very same reason, where we will be looking to partner statewide where we might not have staff members across the state to partner with local bike advocacy groups or youth development non-profits, to be the point people, or that school district as they roll out their bicycle education program.

Tom Butler:

It's a great organization.

Paul Tolmé:

I encourage folks to go to caskadeorg and check out more of what we do.

Tom Butler:

Yeah, The STP is sponsored by Great Northwest Companies. It might seem odd, but I am curious about one of them. Why is Washington Potato sponsoring the STP? It does make me think about eating potato salad for dinner on Saturday evening on the STP. but what drives a company to get involved as a sponsor?

Paul Tolmé:

Yeah Well, you'll be doing the Kaiser Permanente Seattle to Portland, presented by Alaska Airlines. These organizations, like Kaiser Permanente, like the Washington State Potato Commission, they're all looking to increase their awareness in the general public.

Paul Tolmé:

Bicycling is a healthy, much loved activity. Supporting caskade and being able to carry out these events is something they're willing to put some marketing money behind, probably like they would Maybe, instead of buying ads on TV stations or in traditional media. They find great value in engaging with our audience. We also forged a partnership recently with Western Washington Honda Dealers Association where they will be providing us with vehicles to use as SAG vehicles, support vehicles during STP as well, as we'll be using those Hondas to pull our trailers of fleet bikes that go up to schools. So while we are a bike club, we do need vehicles to pull trailers of bicycles and move things around, and so Western Washington Honda Dealers was kind of the latest organization to decide to partner and support Cascade Bicycle Club, and we really appreciate these sponsors because it's incredibly challenging and expensive to put on an event like Seattle to Portland, and so it's great that they have chosen to support the bicycle community and cascade with their marketing dollars.

Tom Butler:

Yeah, shout out to them Thanks. Thank you so much. I will be enjoying.

Paul Tolmé:

Yes, I will be enjoying a couple times at French Frye Stock along STP Nice.

Tom Butler:

Maybe I'll be enjoying some Dave's bread for peanut butter sandwich too.

Paul Tolmé:

Absolutely.

Tom Butler:

I've had an opportunity to talk to a lot of people. I met someone new, kevin, who caught me on a hill a couple of weeks ago when we struck up a conversation. I was suffering and Kevin seemed like he was not even working. But Kevin is definitely part of the Cycling Over 60 demographic and talked a lot about how much fun I was going to have doing the STP. I'm curious about the participation of older cyclists in cascade events.

Paul Tolmé:

Yeah, we have many folks over 60 riding in our events. Electric bikes are part of that. Electric bikes, e-bikes they really allow people who aren't as strong as they were when they were in their 20s to continue riding into their older years. I don't have a breakdown of our demographics for you, but we have a strong membership of folks over 60, i think partly because as people approach retirement age or they are retired, they simply have more time to ride a bike. That's great, golf is fantastic, but I say ride a bike instead.

Tom Butler:

Yes, i like it. I really appreciated the conversation I had with David Villadou, who is an STP ambassador. That was the July 8th episode, a couple episodes ago, if anybody wants to check that out. I love the Ambassador Program. I see the Ambassador Program on Instagram quite a bit and it's a cool program. What was the driver to start that program?

Paul Tolmé:

Well, great question. First, back to David. What a great interview that was. If David ever needs a job, he can come to the Cascade Bicycle Club, because he nailed all the talking points, maybe better than I am today.

Paul Tolmé:

The Ambassador Program was begun as a way to coming out of the pandemic. We had fewer people registering for STP than prior to the pandemic. Habits had been changed. We're also looking for ways to engage with younger people who maybe don't have that long STP history. There are a lot of new young people who have moved to Seattle, young professionals coming here for jobs, and maybe they're not aware of STP and all the Cascade events, like folks who have lived in the Seattle region for many years.

Paul Tolmé:

This STP Ambassador Program was an innovation. We were trying to just frankly, reach folks who probably would want to ride STP but hadn't heard of it or hadn't gotten the poke, the nudge to actually come do it and learn more about it. We partnered with a couple dozen people who are planning to ride STP, of all abilities, some who are going to do it in one day, most who are going to do it in two days, which is the way I would love to ride it as well. Two post stories about their training on social media, whether Instagram, Facebook or whatever social media platform they're working on to simply market and spread the news about STP. Come ride it, especially for folks outside the region who might not have heard of it. We get a decent number of people who travel from across the country to come ride Seattle to Portland, So that STP Ambassador Program, which I'm sure will continue, has been a great way to reach a new audience.

Tom Butler:

Really encourage you to keep doing it, because it's been fun to follow different stories of people on social media.

Paul Tolmé:

There's a blog post all about that. Folks want to come and learn about some of our ambassadors. For instance, the bicycle nomad was a blog post I wrote. He is essentially following the trail of the Buffalo Soldiers, which was this black army unit which did an incredible cross-country voyage on bikes in the late 1800s. So you can find a lot of stories about our ambassadors and all the other work that Cascade does. Click on the news tab in the header on at cascadeorg and you can read stories about our ambassadors.

Paul Tolmé:

I just did a post about our Seattle Sounders free bike parking, which is another one of these programs that we provide for people who can want to ride their bike to the stadium instead of driving.

Tom Butler:

That's so cool. I imagine each year brings some unique challenges to the STP. What are some of the issues you're dealing with this year?

Paul Tolmé:

This year. Well, that's a good question. In the past I mentioned Mount St Helens, but that's another great ride being created. Hopefully that won't happen this year. The volcanoes all seem to be dormant currently.

Tom Butler:

Nice.

Paul Tolmé:

What are the challenges we're facing? I think it's simply the usual countdown to any big event where all the pieces have to fit together. Our events team is signing up and training volunteers to staff all of the aid stations and get the route markings aligned. There are a million different activities that go on in holding such a major ride like that.

Tom Butler:

I am really proud to be a member of the Kasky Bisonkin Club. All the things that you're talking about makes me feel so good to be a member. I think if I had been a member years ago, I might not have gotten away from cycling for so long and had to get back into it and get back in the shape and everything. I'm thankful for everybody that's involved in producing the STP in a way that it has such a great reputation for being in an exceptional experience. I'll be thanking a lot of people along the way on Saturday and Sunday as we're going. You mentioned RSVP and you mentioned the Major Taylor Project. I think there's a Major Taylor ride. What are some of the other rides that Kasky supports?

Paul Tolmé:

Yeah, the Ride for Major Taylor, which supports that program. So that ride is in April. I'll just start at the beginning of the year. So in February we hold our Chili Hilly out on Bainbridge Island and that's a gorgeous ride. As the name indicates, it can be chili sometimes, not always. This year the weather was great, it was chili. It maybe was a little drizzly to start, but it was fantastic And so that's kind of the kickoff ride of the season. Then we have the Ride for Major Taylor.

Paul Tolmé:

We have a series of what are called tour lights. Those are three-day events, much smaller, 100 to 200 people, and for instance, this coming weekend I'll be going out to Winthrop Washington for our Winthrop Gravel tour light. So we hold tour lights throughout the season in Shilan right With three different routes around Lake Shilan. We have one in Port Townsend, upcoming I mentioned Winthrop. We've got one in Long Beach and Grace Harbor. Well, those are two actually down on the southwestern coast, some gorgeous riding there along the Long Beach Peninsula, and I'm probably forgetting a few other tour lights. But essentially those are some of my favorite rides Three different routes over three days and a smaller group And then going through. After we have RSVP at the end of August. We have the Woodenville Wine Ride in September, which is a really nice 25 to 30 mile ride using a lot of the Sammamish River trail and visiting vineyards And with the tasting at the end we have our Seattle Biking.

Paul Tolmé:

Brews event, which already passed by in May, and let's see Kitsap Color Classic in September. Yeah, and then the last ride of the season I'll be doing again. It's the Walla Walla Tour Light, which is a really fun three day event. Walla Walla is a beautiful country. It's sort of the Napa Valley of Washington State with all the great vineyards, tasting rooms and wineries out there. For couples especially, these tour lights are a fantastic, fun way to go experience and ride in a beautiful part of Washington State that maybe you haven't had the experience of visiting before. I've probably forgotten some rides in there, but on any given day of the week people can also go to our website and click on our three group rides program And we have a calendar where we have trained ride leaders to create group rides And seven days a week 365,. You can find small group rides all around the Puget Sound and other parts of Washington State, so we try to create as many opportunities for folks to ride bikes as possible.

Tom Butler:

You mentioned the Rails to Trails press event. I think is probably what it was And that is like a 200 mile trail that's going to be across the Olympic Peninsula. That's going to be really fun to see that develop and then like what rides will be out there.

Paul Tolmé:

Epic. Yeah, that's really in the formative stages right now And essentially the idea there is to link in the Paloista Cascades State Park Trail which runs from the Idaho border all the way to just outside Seattle over near North Bend, where essentially you can now ride that distance 285 miles with a few detours. There are a few small bridges and things. There's always work to be done on these long distance trails. That's one of the longest spans of rail trail in the country there And out on the Olympic Peninsula. Meanwhile we've got the Olympic Discovery Trail which goes from the Pacific Ocean and La Pouche all the way up to near Port Ponson And there are a few gaps in there. They're always trying to close those gaps and building trail is expensive, takes time, forging agreements with landowners etc.

Paul Tolmé:

So now this initiative the Puget to Pacific event that Governor Inslee was part of and where he won a national award from the Rails to Trails Conservancy is an effort to try to tie the Seattle Region and the Spruce to Cascades Trail together. With this 100 miles of Olympic Discovery Trail. We've got out on the Olympic Peninsula so that someone could ride from the Pacific Ocean to the Idaho border most of the way on trails. What a wonderful dream. What a wonderful recreational and transportation corridor that could be as well. We're part of a coalition that is currently we'll find out at the end of the month whether we want a federal grant to do planning and design to plan the route and begin doing the design work to fill in the gaps that'll get people from the Puget Sound, basically from the ferries, all the way to the Olympic. So more news to come on that in the coming months and years.

Tom Butler:

I just think from a bicycle tourism perspective. I mean to have the opportunity to experience the old growth forests of the Olympic Peninsula, the Pacific Coast, and then go up over the Cascades and experience the land of the Palouse. What a experience to be able to do.

Paul Tolmé:

Yeah, and so I hope to do that trip myself One of these days. I've been riding segments of the Palousta Cascades trail with my wife when we have a weekend or a long weekend, and it's such an incredible asset that many folks may not be aware of who live in Washington State. But yeah, washington State is a real hub of bike history, culture and opportunity, and so I encourage your audience to check out how Cascade is involved in all of that and go ride the Olympic Discovery trail, the area around Port Angeles and squim. That's where we rode 30 miles with the governor from Port Angeles to squim on this beautiful, mostly paved trail with some beautiful bridges you know bike bridges crossing over wetlands and things, with the Pacific Ocean crashing and the birds and the wildlife and the thick, dense forests. It's a fantastic ride with the governor, but also just a real scenic highlight of what Washington State has to offer.

Paul Tolmé:

They say that bicycle tourists are wallets with wheels, and so there certainly is great economic development potential in creating trails. Trails are what kind of one of the aspects that we define a community that people want to live in Are there trails to get me from here to there, and they attract tourists and they can also be used for transportation. You know, in the future, when we fill in some of these gaps, maybe somebody would be able to commute by bike, if they, you know, from the Olympic Peninsula to Seattle and ride a bike the whole way and not have to get on any busy roads. What a dream that will be.

Tom Butler:

That'll be so cool. It'll be a reality, yeah, yeah, well. One final question, and this one is a selfish one How do I go about getting a Thai food truck parked at the STP finish this year?

Paul Tolmé:

I heard you mentioning the Thai food. I did go online and if we're not able to get that Thai food truck there, there are a few Thai restaurants within walking distance of Halladay Park.

Tom Butler:

Okay.

Paul Tolmé:

That's just for you. I asked our events director. He was still in the process of figuring out what the food would be at the finish line, and so I apologize for not being able to guarantee that Thai food truck. I put in a plug. I said we work with some, some different food providers there that do a lot of events and you know state fairs and things that have can serve a thousand tacos and a thousand hamburgers and a thousand of the other types of food, so you'll see a variety of food offerings as an STP finisher, i don't know if I can guarantee a Thai meal for you.

Paul Tolmé:

But, like I said, just a few blocks away there are a few Thai restaurants.

Tom Butler:

Well, that's, that's cool. We'll figure something out there. Well, paul Tomay, thank you so much for for joining me here, for all the great information on Cascade. It really is an amazing organization and I'm glad you're there and and reporting on it. And getting the word out, i'm going to make sure and put links to the blog, the Cascade Bicycle Club blog, as well as, course, links to how to sign up, and I think there's a still a little bit of time to sign up for STP, if I'm if I'm not wrong about that.

Paul Tolmé:

Registration closes on Sunday, july 9, at midnight, so make sure to sign up before then and come ride with Tom.

Tom Butler:

Yes for sure. So, Paul, again thanks for all the information and good luck with all the rides that you're able to get in. You know, i know that it's a really busy time here coming up for the STP, but hopefully you'll find some space to get out and do some rides and hopefully we can have you back sometime in the future.

Paul Tolmé:

I would love that. Tom, thank you so much for giving Cascade Bicycle Club the opportunity to talk. I look forward to seeing you giving you a high five as you ride past on STP. I'll be at the finish line there taking photos of as many folks as I can, and thank you to your audience for listening. I encourage all of them to go to cascadeorg if you're not familiar with Cascade Bicycle Club.

Tom Butler:

Perfect, all right, talk to you later.

Paul Tolmé:

Thanks. Have a great day, Tom.

Tom Butler:

You too. Bye, My discussion with Paul left me wanting to find ways to be more involved with Cascade Bicycle Club. I find that they truly are delivering on the desire to become a one-stop shop for everything related to making cycling more enjoyable for everyone in the state of Washington. I also believe they are a model for effective nonprofit management. Their focus on collaboration allows them to have the most impact with the resources. I feel very good about supporting an organization like that with both my time and money. I hope, wherever you are, there is an organization nearby that connects you with fellow cyclists and helps you find challenging and enjoyable rides. I would love to hear about your local club, so reach out on Instagram. You can find the link in the show notes. Also, please send me a note via email letting me know what you would like to hear covered on the podcast. My email is also listed in the show notes. That is it for this week. I'm wishing you the best on all your cycling adventures And remember age is just a gear change.

STP Preparation Plan
1983 Bicycle Bill
Washington Bikes Current Issues
Food Bank Delivery Program
Equity Programs
How STP Started
Spirit of Collaboration
Other Supported Rides
Final Thoughts