Registration is underway for the annual Inland Empire Century Bike Ride, a fundraiser for the Tri-Cities Industry Kiwanis and Walla Walla Kiwanis clubs.
The ride is Saturday, May 13, starting in Columbia Park in Kennewick. It is a key fundraiser for area Kiwanis-supported youth programs.
“It’s a Kiwanis project, and it benefits our community. That’s the basis for this whole effort,” said Arthur Broady, a longtime Kiwanian who oversees sponsorships for the ride.
Cyclists can sign up for 25-, 50-, 75- or 100-mile rides.
The shortest route is ideal for families and travels a loop along two sides of the Columbia River and crosses the Yakima River. Broady said finishing the route isn’t a requirement.
The event’s longer routes attract serious cyclists from around the Northwest.
“Over half of those who ride the 100 and 75, they come out of Seattle or Portland or Spokane. The attraction for them is it’s the first major ride of the season that’s sponsored, which means we have rest stops, safety drivers to protect them and restrooms along the route. Plus, the weather is good 90% of the time,” Broady said.
These longer routes, which climb steep hills, go through Benton City and Prosser, offering scenic views of the river, valley, wheat fields and vineyards.
“We always have it on the Saturday before Mother's Day. It’s generally nice weather, and it’s a good time for the family to come out and have a fun recreational experience in safe conditions,” Broady said.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 400 riders participated in the event each year.
“We were off for two years, which was devastating. Last year we were getting back up, close to 300. We’ve lost a lot of momentum with the pandemic,” said Broady, who is hopeful this year's will be bigger than ever.
Routes are staffed with support vehicles and offer restrooms, along with drinks and snack stops.
Tri-CU Credit Union is the event sponsor; Rancho Storage Center, Brutzman’s Office Solutions and Atomic Screen Printing are major sponsors; and numerous Tri-City area businesses provide in-kind donations.
The ride wouldn’t be possible without the sponsorship support of the Tri-City business community, Broady said.
Bike Tri-Cities holds a Bike Expo in conjunction with the ride.
The Inland Empire Century ride has been held since 1981, with the Kiwanis Industry Club taking over the event about 15 years ago, Broady said.
Broady, a Tri-Cities Industry Kiwanis Club member since the early ’90s, said former Hanford workers created the club, which met on Fridays in Richland. Today, membership numbers about 40 and still meets at noon on Fridays.
How to sign up
Register for the ride online at inlandempirecentury.org.
The ride is free for ages 12 and under, and $15 for those 13-17.
It is $40 for the 25-mile ride; and $65 for the 50-, 75- and 100-mile rides. Cyclists must be 18 years or older for the longer rides.
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