It takes a village: planning for a major riding event

This blog has been updated since its original published date in March 2016.

With Chilly Hilly just around the corner, Cascade’s event season is officially underway. We get a lot of questions about exactly what goes into planning a major riding event. The short answer: a lot! 

We have plenty of fun stats to explain. For example, during the Kaiser Permanente Seattle to Portland presented by Alaska Airlines (STP) we serve 35,000 sandwiches, 17,000 fresh baked cookies and 10,000 servings of oranges. But that begs the question: who’s doing all that slicing, baking and spreading?! 

Cascade’s event season is comprised of a series of unique, meticulously planned rides designed to appeal to every type of rider while raising funds for our nonprofit mission. Each event is a well-oiled machine that comes together only through the carefully coordinated efforts of many parties, from Cascade staff and volunteers to community partners near and far. 

Now in its third year, the upcoming Emerald City Ride is a prime example of how the entire Seattle community came together to produce this unique opportunity. Here’s a sampling of the extraordinary amount of resources that goes into producing a single event like this one:

  • 100 volunteers who assist support drivers, provide medical services, set up the start and finish lines, monitor the route and stuff packets
  • 57 directional and informational signs placed along the route; 2,000 door hangers distributed throughout local communities to give our neighbors a heads-up
  • 35 Cascade staff members who contribute hundreds of hours of planning in the months before and after the event 
  • 20,000 snack bars, 14,000 treats from local vendors and 3,000 bananas to sustain our riders...because staff aren’t the only ones who need energy to pull this off!

And the list goes on…

Even the STP, Cascade’s oldest and most revered riding event, has taken years of planning (39, to be exact) to make it the powerhouse that it is today. Take a peek behind the scenes of the STP and you’ll find:

  • 400+ volunteers participating in planning and day-of activities (many of whom have 3 a.m. call times!)
  • 45 hours of packet stuffing
  • 206 miles of route marking done in 25-mile increments, with 20 pre-event signs placed to inform motorists and neighbors about impending traffic impacts 
  • 20 permits obtained from jurisdictions in both Washington and Oregon
  • 9 baggage trucks transporting riders’ luggage and supplies from Seattle to Portland 
  • 50 phone calls per hour to the emergency line during both days of the event
  • 2 to 3 years’ notice on reserving our partner hotel at the finish line
  • 256 Honey Buckets rented for taking care of business. Because it’s a long ride.

You get the picture. Each and every riding event requires its own set of essential behind-the-scenes resources to make every aspect come together for an awesome experience. And in most cases, planning for the following year’s ride begins the very next day after the ride ends. 

Of all the resources needed, volunteers top the list. Cascade was founded as a volunteer-led organization 46 years ago by a few good folks who simply wanted to build community around bicycling. Today, Cascade still embodies these principles and strives to give back through free educational programs made possible by ride registration fees. In fact, like all of our major riding events, the STP is a fundraiser. Registration fees help support Cascade’s community education and advocacy programs across the state of Washington. These programs provide learning opportunities for children, families, school groups and anyone else of any age or ability who wants to ride a bike. They also help us advocate for safer, more connected bicycle infrastructure so more people can safely get around by bike.

In addition to supporting Cascade’s programs, your registration fee helps Cascade give back to the many communities through which we ride and the organizations that thrive there. This year, STP will give back more than $100,000 to the community groups helping our riders along the route to Portland. This is in addition to the tens of thousands of dollars raised by schools and other organizations that provide mini-stops, lodging and other services for purchase along the way.  

As one of our largest annual fundraisers, STP is instrumental in providing the support needed to make bicycling accessible to all—and every registration makes a difference, similar to the pledges you might be asked to collect to participate in other large-scale fundraising rides. Your spot along the ride ensures that we can continue to support bicycle education and advocacy across the state. So if you join us for a riding event at Cascade, you can feel good knowing that your registration fee gets you good food, a good time and helps support our mission of improving lives through bicycling.    

So back to our original question: who is doing the slicing, baking and spreading? Well, it takes a village. Without the dedication of our amazing volunteers and community partners throughout the weeks and months leading up to a ride, our staff simply wouldn’t be equipped to make these events happen.

Now that you know how many bananas and oranges it takes, we sure hope you’ll consider registering for a ride to support bicycling in Washington, and that you’ll take a few moments to share a piece of fruit or some other snack with us at a food stop along the way. 

For a list of our major rides, please visit https://www.cascade.org/rides/major-rides

 

Diana Bryant's picture
Diana Bryant