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Off and rolling: New Valley Velo Club wants to make cycling connections | Slideshow
Five people with different ages and different stories meet up on this cool, drizzly March afternoon to talk about the thing that binds them together: Their love of bikes.
Jeff Scott comes out the door of Mount Si Sports + Fitness, where he teaches people to cruise on stationary bikes.
Andrew Leon is dressed in road-racing gear and looks ready to ride. Two teenage boys, Jacob Cleven and Truman Gray, are heavy into mountain biking. Their high school bike club coach, Luke Talbott, joins them.
All come from different paths, but all are working together as members of the newly formed Snoqualmie Valley Velo Club.
The Velo group started last year with the mission of supporting and connecting local riders and up-and-coming youth cyclists. Between the men, women and youths, road riders, mountain bikers, spinners, tourers and BMXers, there’s a lot of expertise here. The new Velo club offers a way to share it.
“We’re hoping to be a force in the Valley,” said Leon.
On a ride in March, adult club members joined members of the recently formed Mount Si Mountain Bike Club.
“We had six kids… and five adults, all passionate about volunteering and helping out this local riding team,” said Leon.
With a large, local base of riders, “We live in some of the most beautiful territory for biking,” Leon added. “Many of the other clubs come here for their rides. We felt there should be a way to bring the community together here.”
Registration recently opened and the club is growing fast, said Talbott, with more than 60 members, including 10 youth, 20 women and nearly 40 recreational members.
“There are a lot of cyclists who have been randomly riding around, who want to join up and learn what other cyclists are doing,” Scott said. “They want their kids to be involved. There’s a high school team that wants to be part of something bigger.”
“The bike is what ties it all together. And the enthusiasm,” adds Leon.
Cycling in the Valley is great—but it can always be better, says Scott, a spin class instructor at Mount Si Sports + Fitness and a club co-founder.
“As cyclists, we always want to make things safer,” added Leon.
Improving local cycling could mean more signs, more trails, or just training and guidance, said Scott.
They’ve had their close calls—one board member almost got wiped out by a logging truck on a Lower Valley highway. They expect their shared experiences to make riding in the Valley, whether it’s on roads or trails, safer and better for all.
For Scott, riding together, outside, is a natural progression.
“It’s better to be out,” he said. “You’re learning something.”
Get on the road
Right now, it’s about making connections. Public rides happen twice a week—6 p.m. Wednesdays from The Bindlestick cafe in Snoqualmie, 9 a.m. Saturdays from the Snoqualmie Ridge Starbucks and Singletrack Cycles in North Bend.
Members are volunteering at this summer’s 25th annual Tour de Peaks ride, and their jersey is being modified as the tour’s commemorative jersey.
They volunteered with the University of Washington Omnium ride, held last weekend in North Bend, and will work the Tanner Jeans Bike Safety Rodeo this June.
The club has two levels of membership, the recreation/adventure level, which includes a jersey and club perks, and the race level, which is a full kit and incentives for bike racers.
Their title sponsor is the Attachmate software company. “Velo” is French for bike.
“I was always into distance, but I made the mistake of getting a mountain bike. I got hooked,” says Cleven.
That excitement of mountain biking has grown into its own high school-age competition club.
Mount Si Mountain Bike Club practices twice a week and competes in a racing season with more than a thousand other teen racers in Washington.
Housed under the Washington Student Mountain Biking League, the Mount Si team is not school sanctioned yet, but could eventually join forces with the high school. Principal John Belcher is supportive—and is a mountain biker.
Talbott, a former Valley teacher who runs Compass Outdoor Adventures, is the teen club coach.
Talbott says these young riders, about a half-dozen freshmen and sophomores, are experienced and looking very strong, technically. Their first race was held on April 7.
“Give it a couple of years, we’re going to be ridiculously good,” says the coach.
These riders are competitive. They push for their own achievements, whether it’s the “bacon” award for most cuts and scratches earned on a rough ride, or the points for getting through the gate at Snoqualmie’s Centennial Field without putting a foot on the ground.
“A lot of it is challenging yourself,” says Gray.
For Jake and Truman, only when it’s raining sideways is it time to stay home.
Velo club members sense that excitement, whether it’s in children who race BMX who are turning to mountain bikes, or turning to road bikes and excited to meet a mentor.
Leon sees the focus on youth as something that sets this club apart from similar organizations in and around Seattle. There’s nothing like it in the Valley, he adds.
Members are doing as much as possible to offset costs, donate and educate to help younger riders learn to love the sport.
“The idea of connecting and cross-pollinating is awesome,” says Talbott.
Join the club
New members are welcome to join the Snoqualmie Valley Velo Club.
The Velo Club formed to gather cyclists of all walks of life, including youth. Here, Mount Si Mountain Bike Club member Truman Gray rides the trail. Above, Jacy Scott-Laasko on a mountain bike excursion.