In 1970 a small group of active cyclists gathered in a basement on Mercer Island. Little did these individuals know that they were going to change the future of bicycling in the Puget Sound region. 45 years later, the Cascade Bicycle Club is the largest bicycling organization of its kind in the U.S. with more than 16,000 members, 1,000 volunteers and 38 staff. Here we highlight a few of Cascade’s earliest members, hear how their involvement changed the course of their lives and find out what they’re up to today.
73-year-old Jerry Baker is an institution of his own here in Seattle. He won the inaugural Seattle to Portland race in 1979 (the only time it was held as a time trial race) and he has ridden every STP since.
He is well-known in the Seattle bicycling community, yet Jerry speaks modestly about his bicycling career, in which he has pedalled 210,000 miles and counting. This is the equivalent to circumnavigating the globe more than eight times!
And along the way he’s helped create Cascade Bicycle Club, the Marymoor Velodrome and has supported many other bicycling initiatives.
But the beginning of his story is not unlike many of ours. Jerry graduated from the University of Washington in 1965 and while in college, he gained the dreaded “freshman 15” pounds. He started riding his bike to lose weight. His weight loss tool turned into a passion.
In 1970, Jerry was instrumental in founding the Cascade Bicycle Club by serving as a connector, keeping everyone talking to one another and keeping the lines of communication open.
“Jerry always played an important role bridging the racing, touring and advocacy worlds… [he] epitomized the degree of cooperation and coordination between the various bicycling interests in Seattle,” commented fellow founder and former roommate Josh Lehman.
Jerry and his cohort laid the groundwork for Cascade Bicycling Club and their interests echo in our mission today: improving lives through bicycling. We are not just a riding club, educational or an advocacy organization; we do it all.
Another notable accomplishment is Jerry’s role procuring funding for the Marymoor Velodrome, the state’s only velodrome. Marymoor Velodrome opened in 1975 and Jerry stayed involved in the organization for 46 years. He’s also taken lead roles in organizing cyclocross races.
As a result of early members like Jerry, Cascade continues to represent all kinds of bicycling interests from recreational riding to commuting, advocacy to education.
Jerry said he continues to be impressed by Cascade’s “strong, passionate and responsive” voice in the region.
Through bicycling, Jerry said he’s learned to appreciate that we all have goals and they are (at least) worth listening to. And, he’s learned there is almost always more than one path to take to reach wherever you are trying to go.
Jerry is still very active and involved in Cascade. Jerry said he enjoys Cascade’s “friendly community” of “different people all with a commonality–riding bicycles.”
And he still rides. In 2014 Jerry pedaled more than 4,500 miles.
“When I ride,” Jerry said with a smile, “I have at least five people say, ‘Hi, Jerry!’”
Jerry is registered for the 2015 Group Health STP Presented by Alaska Airlines, with bib number 36, which represents the number of STPs he’s ridden.
If you spot him along the route, be sure to say hello and thanks for all the work he’s done.
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