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Ride is a true tour de Clark County

Add a triumphant and tasty celebration to the bicycle adventure you’ve always wanted to try during this year’s Ride Around Clark County. Set for July 27, this will be the second time that the Vancouver Bicycle Club has concluded its big annual bike outing with an afterparty.

“You can enjoy a nice barbecue lunch,” club president Devin Bowen said. “We’ve added options for vegetarians and for people who don’t drink beer.”

They include veggie and chicken sandwiches in addition to pulled pork, and craft root beer and kombucha from Heathen Brewing in addition to microbrews.

The main new thing is the date, which has moved again. After 34 years in early May and last year’s attempt at mid-August, Bowen said, the 36th annual Ride Around Clark County has come home to the heart of summer.

“The goal is better weather at a more central time of year, when most people are ready to ride,” he said. Challenging cyclists to conquer major hills on the first Saturday in May always was a tall order, he said, but by late July there’s little risk of rain and everybody’s had more time to train.

Training is recommended if you mean to try any of the Ride Around Clark County’s four long, rolling loops. But if you’re a beginner who’s just warming up to anything tougher than a toodle around the neighborhood, consider the new, nearly flat, 20-mile excursion to Frenchman’s Bar Park and back.

Routes feature well-stocked rest stops

All rides begin and end at what’s called the 410 Building on East Fifth Street, steps west of the Land Bridge trailhead at the reconstructed Fort Vancouver. That’s where you can enjoy snacks, juice and coffee before launch, and then lunch, beer and glory after you land.

More food, drink and camaraderie beckon from well-stocked rest stops along each route. That’s part of the beauty of the Ride Around Clark County: goodies and breathers keep you going. Those rest stops also feature skilled mechanical support, while marked RACC vehicles offer rolling support along the routes, too.

Here’s your menu of ride options:

• 20 miles with 367 feet of elevation gain. A new beginners’ route that heads over the Land Bridge, west along the new Vancouver Waterfront Park, up to Fruit Valley Road and out to Frenchman’s Bar Park, where there’s a rest stop at the halfway mark. This route includes new bike trail segments along Lower River Road.

• 34 miles with 1,000 feet of elevation gain. This route reaches a Lacamas Lake rest stop, rounds the lake and returns. A new downhill segment along Vancouver’s shady Blandford Canyon has been added for a little additional “whee! factor,” the Bike Club says — because who doesn’t need a fun “whee!” at the end of a ride?

• 54 miles with 1,367 feet of gain. This route combines the two above. Tackle an impressive distance but less-than-killer hills while enjoying three rest stops along the way. The afterparty makes four.

• 68 miles with 2,272 feet of gain. Around Lacamas Lake, up to Hockinson, through Battle Ground to Ridgefield (there’s no Daybreak Park rest stop this year due to road construction) and down the west side of the county.

• 100 miles with 5,716 feet of gain. Make sure you’re really ready for this route that travels round Lacamas Lake, up through Hockinson and Battle Ground to Yacolt, Amboy and Woodland, back down via Ridgefield and the west side. Whew.

If you’re trying either of the longest routes, the Bike Club recommends you hit the road no later than 7 a.m. to make sure rest stops and the afterparty are still going strong when you reach them.

Prices have risen, but Bowen emphasized that the RACC is a charity event. This year’s main beneficiaries are the Clark County Food Bank and Bike Clark County, a sister nonprofit agency that operates a downtown Vancouver bike co-op and brings bike-safety training and skills development to local schools and its own summer camps.

Upward of 100 volunteers help put on the Ride Around Clark County, Bowen said. “This is our club’s big event of the year, but it’s more than that,” he said. “It’s our opportunity to serve the community. It’s Clark County’s only big bike event.”

If You Go

What: Ride Around Clark County, featuring 20-, 34-, 54-, 68- and 100-mile routes, rest stops, refreshments, mechanical support and an afterparty.

When: July 27. Same-day registration begins on-site at 6 a.m. The afterparty ends at 4 p.m.

Where: 410 Building near Fort Vancouver, 795 E. Fifth St.

Cost: $50 to $75 for adults; $40 to $55 for youth accompanied by a paid parent or guardian. Free for those 12 or younger, accompanied by a paid parent or guardian.

Registration and details: Bring identification and some cash, repair supplies and a pump, water and appropriate clothing. Helmets are mandatory.


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