Saturday, February 7, 2009

Not Funny - Spokane Bike Summit

If you are looking for humor, you will have to go elsewhere today, because this is a highly serious report on Spokane's first ever (first annual?) Bike Summit.

SBC, not to be confused with the FBC, was organized by the Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board. It was a gathering of people representing many of cycling's facets. There were people interested in bike commuting, bike racing, bike safety, bike education, bike advocacy and bike trails. There were mountain bikers, fixed gear/single speed riders, racers, leisure riders, and tri-athletes (don't confuse these people with bike racers; rather than training and racing in packs, they "enjoy" bikes by distilling the entire experience into riding solo, leaning on aero bars and concentrating on when they will get in their next swim or run work-out rather than get caught up in small details like bike handling). Every age and physique was represented including the highly fit and compact ideal bike rider type; the aged and overweight non-ideal bike rider type; the young and seriously hip (speaking of which, if you are seriously hip, does that conflict with your detached ironic hipness?); the bike wrenches and the bike tools; the people who ride three thousand miles a year, the people who talk about riding three thousand miles a year and the people who ride three thousand beers a year.

The SBC was held at the Steam Plant Grill, Spokane's most cycling supportive restaurant featuring covered bike racks and support for Bike to Work, SpokeFest, the Out There Monthly Wednesday Night Mountain Bike series, Team Two Wheel, the Pedals2People Paris-Roubaix fundraiser, the Emde/Fitness Fanatics Team, meeting place for the Baddlands Cycling Team, probable sponsor of the Gonzaga Cycling Team and organizer, along with Coeur d'Alene Brewing Company, of the once held and future Tour of Pain.

There were presentations by people about the Bicycle Advisory Board, SmartRoutes, development of an umbrella organization for trails and recreation parks and the City of Spokane's plans.

The highlights for me were 1) listening to the self-introductions and 2) the revalation of the night, that a Gonzaga Cycling team existed. The self-introductions were interesting because of the range of people and interests. I had no idea that some of the groups represented existed, which would include the Gonzaga Cycling team. These guys said they have been in existence for three years, although this may have a youthful attempt at humor, as there is no empirical evidence of their existence beyond this bare assertion. No mention of their race results has been published and no GU jersey has ever been spotted in the local races, among the local rides or even, to the best of my knowledge, on the local trails. Clearly more investigation needs to be done on this topic, probably by Out There Monthly or Paul Turner, the Slice author and curmudgeonly bike commuter.

The idea behind the Spokane Bike Summit was to create awareness of the many cycling initiatives in the area, create connections between some of the groups and individuals and create energy around ways to make Spokane a better cycling community.

While there were a few topics discussed group-wide, most were in small groups around the room. Here are a few things I heard:
1) Did I mention that Gonzaga has a cycling team?
2) A 12-person company exists in Spokane that develops phsyical education curriculumn, including cycling curriculumn, for school districts around the country. Who knew?
3) That the Paris-Roubaix Pedals2People fundraiser will be held at the Steam Plant Grill.
4) Discussion of a downtown twilight criterium on the Friday or Saturday night ahead of SpokeFest.
5) There is interest in developing middle school or high school oriented racing teams.
6) That people in Boise, Idaho are sending a U-23 group to race in Europe (link), which means that Spokane really does need to develop middle school or high school oriented racing teams, as Boise is kicking our asses in this area.
7) That there is a lot of interest in providing more accessible information about group rides of all kinds.

I know that there were more serious minded conversations about trail development, bike routes, children's fitness and bike safety, but those conversations were taking place further away from the beer.

I don't have an official list of organizers, but I believe they included Bob Lutz, John Speare, Eve Nelson and Bill Bender. The evening was funded by a number of groups, whose names should be included here, but posting is pending a complete list. [Here is the complete list (Thanks again to John) Spokane Regional Health Dept, Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Bike To Work, Spokefest, Anonymous donor, and the City of Spokane.] Special mention should also be made of the efforts, fueled by a couple of shots at the Peacock Lounge, of impromptu group facilitator, Tom Reese.

I am looking forward to finding out what cycling idea was birthed last night at the Steam Plant Grill and which we will all be talking about next year. In the meantime, as Freddy Mercury says, "Now get on your bikes and ride!"


  1. Hey #3 - nice write up.
    Official list of funders:

    Spokane Regional Health Dept
    Bicycle Alliance of Washington
    Bike To Work, Spokane
    Anonymous donor
    City of Spokane

  2. Hey #3,
    I can vouch for the three year existence of the GU team. We at Two Wheel have lent a hand at times, procuring tools and tuning up bikes in an on campus event. It's odd that once you get to know a GU rider, they graduate and you never see them again.

  3. The Gonzaga Cycling Team has been around for a while, but we are finally becoming more official this year. We've just created a website that will be updated with information regarding the club and race results.

    Before coming to Gonzaga, I had no idea that there was a cycling club/team and that is something we are trying to change. Check out the site and feel free to email us at {gonzagacyclingclub (at)} if you have any questions/comments/concerns. Thanks.