Ride 'Between the Nox'
Daffodils poke their heads up to say hello. Happy dogs fly through the air after Frisbees. And brave souls reveal bare legs, donning shorts for the first time in what seems likes years. Spring has sprung on the Westside and it's that time of year to take advantage of the daylight and dive into something new.
One way to appreciate longer days and better weather is to dust off your bike (or buy a new one) and go for a pre-sunset spin. And now, thanks to Dennis Grace and Cascade Bicycle Club, West Seattleites have their very own ride to enjoy every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. starting at Jack Block Park (south of Salty's).
Known as "Between the Nox," this weekly ride occurs annually between the Vernal Equinox (spring) and the Autumnal Equinox (fall) - hence it's fine name. It is primarily for road bikers who can comfortably ride a good 25 to 35 miles at a fairly fast clip of 16-plus mph (mountain bikes are generally too slow). However, the group is actively seeking out road riders to comprise a second wave of more moderately paced riders who will pedal under 16 mph. So don't be shy if your name's not Lance.
Besides, your speed isn't the reason behind the ride, according to ride leader Dennis Grace.
"We're not about being hammerheads and leaving people behind," he explains. "This was always envisioned as a neighborhood ride that everyone can enjoy."
It's also meant to inspire riders who'd simply like to know where to go.
"If you don't ride enough, but would like to ride more, come on this ride and we'll show you how to get around the city," he vows. "One reason why people don't ride bikes in the city is because they don't know where else to ride besides the Burke Gilman Trail, but we can show you all kinds of interesting routes and connectivity that you can use for recreational riding as well as transportational cycling, or commuting, if you wish."
All rides leave from Jack Block Park and usually consist of six or seven basic routes using a combination of both roads and bike trails. Experience the familiar but hilly West Seattle Double Loop, the signature Seward Park Ride, the Interlaken Trail Ride, the Magnolia Loop, the Mercer Island Loop, and of course the one and only "Flat Ride" through Georgetown and industrial South Seattle - all test ridden and perfected a zillion times by Dennis and his partner Anne.
The two actually began doing organized Westside rides while training for the MS150 (a 2-day, 75-mile-a-day ride to benefit MS). Soon thereafter they discovered Cascade Bicycle Club with whom they trained for the infamous STP (Seattle to Portland ride). Before long Grace became a ride leader for the Cascade Training Series and started his own Tuesday night ride which has evolved into the ever popular Between the Nox ride.
"It's taken five years for it to turn this into the vibrant, close knit group of riders that it is today," he reflects. "But it's exciting to see it grow - we now have just as many women as men riding with us and many are our neighbors in the West Seattle riding community."
Grace is a certified instructor with the League of American Bicyclists and also throws in tidbits of bicycle education and safety along the way.
"When people come to my ride, whether they know it or not, they often will follow what I do, it's called modeling, and it exemplifies safe and courteous riding techniques," he explains. "It's a real bonus in that it's a way to teach people and give them something they might not realize when they first come to ride."
But he does insist, as does Cascade Bicycle Club, that ride leaders are not meant to be babysitters or bike mechanics, so all riders are responsible for their actions.
For example, here are the requirements if you'd like to participate:
- You are required to wear a helmet (correctly adjusted)
- You must legibly sign a waiver with an emergency and/or home phone number
- You must cycle in a legal, safe and courteous manner
- You should carry a pump, spare tube, patch kit and money
- You should arrive ten minutes before the start time with your bike ready to ride
- You choose a ride at the pace and distance that matches your current ability, and
- You are personally responsible for your own conduct and decisions
It sounds like a lot of legalese, but these guidelines do make everyone's experience a better one. Also, note that kids are welcome if they meet these requirements as long as they are accompanied by a responsible adult and receive permission of the ride leader 24 hours ahead of time.
So whether you're on the fence between "should I go try this ride" or "should I stay home and wish I did," Between the Nox is the perfect excuse to saddle up this spring and try something new.
Tues. Night Rides with Cascade Bicycle Club
Meet at Jack Block Park (next to Salty's)
For questions, call the ride leader at .937.8210
Or, visit www.cascade.org
(Under "Rides & Events, go to "Daily Rides," then click on "Cascade Free Daily Rides" on the left hand navigation bar and scroll down to "Between the Nox")
Tuesdays @ 6pm from April-Sept.
Please note: rain cancels rides.
Free, but BYOB (bring your own bike...and gear)
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