Tour de Lopez rides again

The Tour de Lopez celebrates its crystal anniversary this year on April 28. For 15 years, hundreds of cycling enthusiasts have flocked to Lopez Island to participate in this popular Lopez Chamber of Commerce fundraising event.

“I think it started out to be about three to four hundred riders when they first started, and now on average we cap it at 900 riders,” said Lopez Island Chamber of Commerce Director Christa Campbell. “It’s been a wonderfully supported event over the past 15 years for sure.”

For the last decade, Washington state has topped The League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly States list. The San Juan Islands are a popular biking destination, with Lopez known as the easiest of the ferry-served islands to ride, making it the perfect island to host an event of its kind.

There are four routes (5, 12, 17 and 31 miles) marked by recycled bicycles starting from two locations, Odlin Park at the north end close to the ferry landing, and Lopez Center in Lopez Village. Along the routes are designated rest areas offering treats from Holly B’s Bakery, organic fruit provided by Blossom Grocery, water and other assistance.

All routes end at the Lopez Center where riders, friends and family can enjoy a 3-course lunch provided by The Galley Restaurant and listen to live music from local band Lyrical Laureates of Love.

In 2003, Becky Smith and Daren Holscher co-founded the Tour de Lopez as a way to raise the funds needed to maintain the public bathroom in the Lopez Village Park. From April until October, the bathroom provides public showers and restrooms for visitors and locals alike. The Tour de Lopez pays to keep the facility running.

Usually, riders sign up fairly quickly. However, this year has been slow to hop on the bike seat.

“I think our current spring hasn’t sprung yet,” Campbell joked. “People are not that inspired to be going out on a bike [in bad weather]. … I think that’s partially working against us.”

Campbell recalled that there were more than 900 riders last year even though it was a cool day and that every year more than 1,000 people come to the lunch.

The night before the Tour de Lopez, the village will host the fifth annual Bite of Lopez. With DJ music and tapas food, it’s also a time for early arrivers for the biking event to check in and get route maps. Art for posters, T-shirts, sweatshirts and other merchandise available for sale on site was designed by Christa Malay.

Campbell said that she is thankful for the community volunteers who help to make the Tour de Lopez happen every year.

“It’s an event that’s pretty cool for us. What I find, like anything out here, it involves quite a few volunteers,” she said. “It’s a community event — it takes a community to really make it happen.”

Tickets for adults are $50, children 6-12 are $30 and for a family of four – two adults and two children – it is $130. To register, visit the Chamber’s website.