Performance Better Bicycling Community Grant: Cascade Bicycle Club

It’s been nearly a year since we identified 10 worthy organizations to receive one of the $3,000 Better Bicycling Community Grants, in honor of our 30th anniversary, so we thought that it was time to catch up with these groups to see how they’ve used the grants to make a difference in their local communities. Cascade Bicycle Club, a non-profit organization based in Seattle, Washington, used their grant to help fund Cascade’s Advocacy Leadership Institute, a group that is building the grassroots power of the bicycle movement. We asked Tarrell Wright, of Cascade Bicycle Club, to write a few words about what ALI is all about:

Cascade-Bicycle-Club“Our Better Bicycling Community Grant has enabled us to bring power to the bicycling movement by harnessing the enthusiasm of community members. With the skills and training they’ve gained through the Advocacy Leadership Institute, our first crop of Community Bicycle Advocates have gone on to testify at public hearings and start advocacy groups of their own. They’ve already become an invaluable asset to Cascade as we work toward safer, more connected communities where people of all ages and abilities can comfortably bike where they need to go.

cascade_bike_to_work“Since completing the inaugural eight-week session of our new Advocacy Leadership Institute (ALI) in July 2012, several of our first 18 Community Bicycle Advocates have gone on to lead their own campaigns, including Don Brubeck of West Seattle Bike Connections and Janet Shull of WaBiBurien. Four graduates testified in support of funding for bicycling at the City of Seattle budget hearing last October. Shannon Koller was featured in the Al Jazeera piece on bicycling in Seattle and across the nation, and Merlin Rainwater has spearheaded an initiative called Safe Routes to Health focused on engaging health care facilities and hospitals in making sure patients, visitors and staff can safely and easily walk, bike and take transit to those facilities. Glen Buhlmann started Kirkland Greenways, the first Seattle Neighborhood Greenways affiliate based outside of the city. We’ve been providing ongoing support to these advocates as they’ve continued working toward better bicycling in their communities, thanks in part to funding through this Performance Better Bicycling Community Grant.

“It’s a bit early to gauge increases in bicycling as a result of our January 2013 session, as it has only just begun. However, we succeeded in gathering more than 1,000 petition signatures for a bold and visionary Seattle Bicycle Master Plan update, and more than 5,000 people have responded to our electronic calls to action. The draft network plan includes 523 miles of bicycle facilities to be built or upgraded over the next 20 years – including cycle tracks, bike lanes, trails and family-friendly neighborhood greenways. Several ALI participants have created their own grassroots advocacy groups, engaging more than 250 community members.”

Here at Performance Bicycle, we are proud to support the work of the Cascade Bicycle Club Advocacy Leadership Institute as they continue to grow this valuable and influential program, and make a real difference to cyclists in the Seattle area.

Community Events: 2012 El Tour De Tucson

It’s 5AM in Tucson, AZ and 9000 cyclists are squeezing into every available space around the start line of the 2012 El Tour De Tucson. A contingent from our Arizona store support team set up a last-minute tune-up station, as most of our people and tools were already on their way out to our 3 aid stations out on the course. Sipping on free coffee and trying to stay warm, the buzz of the day fills the air.

El Tour Start 5amAttracting a crowd of 9,000 cyclists from throughout the United States and worldwide, “El Tour” is one of the premier organized rides in United States and also one of the top 3 fundraising rides (Perimeter Bicycling distributes funds to an array of local charities every year). The main event routes show off Tucson’s beautiful vistas of its local mountain ranges and Saguaro cactus, along a flat to rolling or moderately hilly course – although 2 dry but sandy river crossings greet the full 111-mile riders! All routes offer aid stations with water and snacks spaced about 7-10 miles apart, full police support at intersections and plenty of morale-boosting volunteers and spectators.

But this great event doesn’t begin on the cold streets of Tuscon, so let’s take a quick look back at the Expo and the leadup to this year’s “El Tour”.

Three days before the start of the event, we set up our booth alongside many other local and national vendors. We were lucky in that we were right across the aisle from the free t-shirts. The first two days of the expo slipped by and before we knew it, we were one day away from the race. The expo was packed and our booth was the place to be!

Maybe it was the free bike gear we were giving away. Or maybe it was the “Blind Folded Spin Doctor Challenge”! If you managed to change a flat tire faster than one of our blind-folded Spin Doctor mechanics, you were in for some great prizes.

But let’s get back to the real action. No, not the awesome Southwestern Cuisine in Tucson, although that was excellent . . .

No, we mean the real highlight of the weekend, the 30th El Tour de Tucson. In the blink of an eye, nearly 9,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities had lined up and were ready to head out onto the 111 mile course (although 85, 60 or 42 mile routes were also available).

It took more than 7 minutes after the starting gun fired just to get everyone rolling – but finally they were off! We quickly split up and headed to our respective aid stations.

Jeff Dalina (Chandler), Tom Flores (San Diego), Rusty Sattler (Scottsdale), Bryan Zittolosen (Tucson) at tech support stop #2.

As riders came up to the Performance Bicycle aid stations, they were treated to the finest in mechanical care. Just like every event we participate in, our services on race-day are completely free.

We lubed chains, fixed flats, and changed tires to make sure that no one had to quit the ride because of their bikes.

We fixed bikes no matter what they were – including this custom Ti recumbent with HED wheels and a stars and stripes cloth fairing! One of the best things about the ride for us, as with any ride, is seeing all of the Scattantes out on course (check out our album on the Performance Facebook page). All in all, we had a great El Tour and very much look forward to returning next year!

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