After 31 years, RedSpoke, the annual five-day, 300-mile bike tour from Redmond to Spokane, will come to an end.
On Sunday, July 22, approximately 40 cyclists from all over Washington will celebrate their completion of RedSpoke, the annual five-day, 300-mile bike tour from Redmond to Spokane. It’s the last time they’ll make the journey. After 31 years, RedSpoke is ending, marking a milestone for longtime participants, some of whom have cycled in almost every RedSpoke ride since it began in the late ’80s.
Tim Arnold, a RedSpoke committee member and former president of the Redmond Rotary, which organizes the ride, bought his first roadworthy bike specifically for RedSpoke back in 1988, when it was founded by Rotary member Tom Radley. Arnold has participated in the ride in some capacity every year since.
“This was probably going to be my last year anyway on riding,” said Arnold. “I would probably still support the ride, but it’s too difficult at my age to train for it anymore.”
He whispers his age: “seven zero.”
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Arnold has understandably mixed feelings about the tour’s final year. “Two things. One of them is it takes a lot of effort to put it on, and our club is struggling to have the number of people that it takes to put it on. I’m struggling because I’m getting old and it gets harder to ride every year,” he said.
RedSpoke 2018 chairperson Deana Hale echoed Arnold’s statement about the amount of effort required to host the ride, saying it was one factor in the decision to end the rides. “Club leadership has decided that the manpower that we have used to support RedSpoke for five days across the whole state could be better spent in our local community,” said Hale.
According to Hale, the day after RedSpoke 2018 ends, a committee of Redmond Rotary members and RedSpoke organizers will get together to discuss what’s next. With a focus on the local Redmond community, Hale says that Redmond Rotary leadership have discussed everything from book drives to local wine tastings and even the possibility of a “RedSpoke 2.0.” Though the current incarnation of RedSpoke is on its way out, the club is open to organizing a shorter, local ride of 1-3 days that would require fewer resources to organize.
Over the years, RedSpoke has raised between $35,000 and $50,000 in support of organizations like HopeLink and Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center. With only 40 members, the Redmond Rotary club requires all of its members to help out with the event. Hale said that planning would begin in August the year before each event. The club would also find corporate sponsors, work with local vendors to provide meals for riders and arrange campsites at each stop along the way.
Working with local communities has also allowed RedSpoke organizers and riders to cultivate strong relationships with organizations like the Kiwanis club in Wenatchee, which has provided dinner and breakfast for riders during the ride’s tenure. And in Davenport, elected royalty from the town’s annual Pioneer Days celebration would host dinner for the RedSpoke riders each year.
“You just meet people along the way that are amazing, and you get a little piece of small town USA,” Arnold said.
But this year’s final ride won’t be a mournful goodbye.
“We’re celebrating as we go across the state this year. We’re celebrating all of the communities that have supported us every year. We hope to maintain those relationships,” said Hale.
This year’s ride will take place from July 18 to July 22. Cyclists can sign up for the ride online. The registration deadline is July 13.