Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Marking The Seattle Century Course

I'd volunteered to help mark the eastern portions of the Seattle Century course with Dan Henry marks and caution signs, figuring I could talk a few of my pals into helping out. Brad "Bikes with Babes" Hawkins had to bail out when child care logistics got too complex and most of my other friends had lame excuses involving jobs, boats or being on the other side of the planet. My local buddy Jeff Youngstrom offered the use of his XtraCycle and despite coming off a weekend of working the finish line at STP, Mark Canizaro said he'd show up at Marymoor Park for route marking duty.

I picked up the XtraCycle at Jeff's at 8:00 AM, rode it the couple of blocks to my place and loaded it up with paint, stencils, signs and a staple gun. The bike is too big for me, so climbing on and off it is a bit awkward, but once I'm on it, I'm fine. I'd allowed more time than I normally would to ride the dozen miles up to Marymoor Park but the XtraCycle is surprisingly fast. The slowest thing about the bike is all the time you spend explaining it to folks when you are stopped, it's quite a conversation starter.

Route marking is a slow business. At each turn and various spots along the straight sections, Mark and I stop, unload a stencil and spray the letters "SC" with a circle and a line indicating the direction of travel. On busy roads, we tack up signs informing drivers that there will be "Hundreds of Bikes on Road, July 25th." We also put up some caution signs for the cyclists ahead of some steep descents and busy, blind intersections. And, of course, we have to stop a couple of times for coffee and to take some pictures of things like a frog the size of a dinner plate. At one point, near Preston, we clean about a hundred construction staples from the road shoulder.

It takes all day to cover the area from Redmond to Duvall, Cherry Valley, Carnation, Preston and finally back to Issaquah, a total of about 45 miles of the hundred mile course. Other folks will map the rest and right before the ride someone will double check all the route marking.

On July 25th, the day of the ride, I'll ride the course as a roving mechanic. This year's course has less masochistic climbing and more rational routing than last year's inaugural effort and Mark and I did our best to make sure the route is clearly labeled. I hope to see at least a few of my blog readers out there.

Keep 'em rolling,



Lief said...

I would have joined your route marking day and the Seattle Century but I don't have a bike-shop-manager weekend for the former and I have camping plans for the latter. I would like to do the Seattle Century at some point, looks like a good route.

- Recumbent Guy
(from Livestrong Seattle)

Anonymous said...

Hi Kent,

I'm sure the riders of this year's Seattle Century will appreciate the careful marking and more thoughtful routing. I didn't ride last year, and have generally developed a negative impression of the ride because from afar it looks to me like this is a for-profit bike ride (for the benefit of the company that organized it) that they have attempted to portray as a benefit for BikeWorks. I have written the promoters a couple of times asking for clarification, but never gotten an answer - so I thought I would ask you - did BikeWorks actually see any money from the ride last year? Can you say how much (if this has been announced, I missed it)?

I'd consider doing the ride if it really does help good folks (like BikeWorks).


Kent Peterson said...

The promoters behind this ride are a Portland-company, for profit company. Last year they partnered with the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and Bike Works (both non-profits). BW and BA helped round up volunteers (who were comp'ed with things like free entry into the ride, t-shirts, food, etc). Both BA and BW got a portion of the ride fees. I don't know what the Bicycle Alliance got and I don't have Bike Works exact number but it was in the thousands of dollars range.

BW provided more volunteers than BA did last year (the event conflicted with another ride that benefits BA) and this year the sole non-profit benefiting from the Seattle Century is Bike Works.

The promoters of the event do more than break even on the event, but they do a lot of work for that money. And a portion (I don't know the percentage) does go to Bike Works. We found it to be a worthwhile use of our efforts last year (despite more glitches than many of us would have liked!) and thus we are working with the promoters again this year to make the 2009 Seattle Century a successful ride.

I hope this clears things up a bit.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for adding this additional detail.

Your endorsement of this event says a lot; I wish the organizers were clearer about this but I am happy you added this clarification.

Best to you and BikeWorks.

stef said...

Thanks Kent! I rode the Seattle Century yesterday and it was great. Thanks for taking the time to mark and course and clear some of the debris off the road!