Before you can coast downhill, you’ve got to climb uphill. Cycling is funny that way — and so is the rolling landscape of Clark County.
The Vancouver Bicycle Club’s big Ride Around Clark County outing, set for July 27, features one straightforward, 20-mile, out-and-back route from Fort Vancouver to Frenchman’s Bar Park that means to be as flat as local streets will allow. The biggest bumps in the road are along West Fourth Plain Boulevard: the bridge over the railroad tracks and overall rise in the roadway to the east.
But four longer loops through the countryside will require climbing and coasting, climbing and coasting. Depending on how far you choose to go (34, 54, 68 or 100 miles), the “oh wow!” factor of Clark County’s beautiful scenery will meet its match in the “oh wow!” burn in your thighs.
If you mean to try one of those longer, tougher rides, consider joining one of the Vancouver Bicycle Club’s free training rides Saturday for a preview. You don’t need to register; just bring your well-functioning bike and helmet to what’s called the 410 Building, immediately west of the Land Bridge path at 795 E. Fifth St. (That will be the starting spot for the official Ride Around Clark County on July 27, too.) Please show up at least 15 minutes before the 8 a.m. Saturday start time and make sure you’ve reviewed the club’s safety policies, available at https://www.vbc-usa.com/.
The training routes will be: a 34-mile out-and-back east across Vancouver and around Lacamas Lake, with approximately 1,000 feet of total elevation gain; a 37-mile loop that heads east, north to Sifton and back, gaining approximately 1,100 feet; and a 43-mile loop that combines both of the above — out to Lacamas Lake, around and up to Sifton and back through town, with a total gain of approximately 1,500 feet.
Each route will have a ride leader who maintains a fairly brisk pace, said event coordinator Sally Butts, and it’s not expected that all riders will stick together. Download or print out your own cue sheet for the ride of your choice from https://www.vbc-usa.com/.
This training event really means to spin up participation in the July 27 Ride Around Clark County, the Vancouver Bicycle Club’s big annual outing, Butts said. That features five routes, from 20 to 100 miles, plus lots of support — food and drink at several fixed rest stops, rolling mechanical help for emergencies along the way and even an after party with beer and music at the 410 Building.
Advance registration prices start at $50; day-of-event registration will cost a little more. Visit www.vbc-usa.com/ for all the details.