Cyclists of all ages and abilities will be making their way through North Kitsap for the 29th Kitsap Color Classic Sept. 24, showcasing the scenic transition of summer to fall.
In 2020, the event was named one of the most beautiful bike rides in the country by BICYCLING.com. The ride is put on by Cascade Bicycle Club and marks the completion of its event season. Cascade also puts on the Chilly Hilly, which is its first event of the season during February on Bainbridge Island.
“I feel a deep sense of pride for this event because it feels like I’m inviting the state of Washington and the cycling community into my own home,” Cascade rides and events producer Allison Pringle said, who lives in Poulsbo. “These are the routes I ride myself. I have a genuine love affair with this event because I’m showcasing Kitsap and all the beauty and diversity. They wanted something that gave people a sense of the fall colors, similar to New England.”
Cascade is the nation’s largest statewide bicycling nonprofit, and serves riders of all races, genders and income levels throughout the state, its website states. Its signature programs include the Seattle to Portland, Free Group Rides, the Pedaling Relief Project and Your Streets Your Say advocacy training. The nonprofit serves almost 10,000 members, has 30 professional staff and 700 volunteers.
This year’s Kitsap Color Classic runs from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. There are staggered starts at two locations — the Edmonds ferry terminal and the Port of Kingston’s Kiwanis Park. If riders select Edmonds, they will have ferry fare included in their registration fee. The rider bib acts as their ferry pass. Official ferry times for the event are 8:50, 9:35 and 10:20 a.m.
Pringle is hoping to surpass 1,000 riders this year, a number the event used to typically have before the COVID pandemic. Pringle said registration is trending 30% higher than last year. Cost for adults (non-members) is $50-$64, adults (members) $40-$54 and youth (18 and younger) $10-$24.
There are three routes, ranging from 1,800 to 4,000 feet of elevation change. All routes start and end in downtown Kingston. Each will have a rest stop where riders can refill water bottles and enjoy light snacks, which are included in the cost. E-bikes are allowed. The Saucy Sailor will be providing food at the finish line, along with other vendors.
The 25-mile route goes from Kingston to Hansville and back. Although it is the shortest distance, Hansville features many hills so cyclists won’t have an easy ride. That route’s rest stop is at Norwegian Point, which offers views of the surrounding water.
The 35-mile route goes from Kingston to Port Gamble to Poulsbo and back. That route’s rest stop will be in Port Gamble, a new feature because many riders have advocated stopping there to sightsee.
The longest route is 53 miles, going from Kingston to Hansville to Port Gamble to Poulsbo to Suquamish and back. The rest stop will be in downtown Poulsbo where riders can peruse the local shops and hang out by the waterfront.
For the routes involving Poulsbo, Pringle said riders will be using the new Highway 305/Johnson Parkway tunnel as well as back roads to keep them away from heavy traffic.
“Because there’s three different routes, there is something for everyone who wants to ride,” Pringle said. “All of these routes are impressive in their own way. It’s pretty diverse; we have people well into their 80s and beyond who do these events. We encourage the community’s patience, especially motor vehicles, with our riders to share the road.”
There are no winners, but each participant will take home a souvenir from F.R.O.G. Soap in Bremerton. “These are rides, not races,” Pringle said. “They are not timed. This is not the Tour de France.”
Support and gear vehicles will be on the route and dispatched when riders call the support hotline. SAG vehicles can transport riders and most models of bikes in the event of a mechanical or minor medical event.
There will also be outriders, who are volunteers in white, green, and black jerseys that ride on the route, assisting with minor mechanical and medical issues, like cuts and scrapes, dispensing advice and directions. Mechanics are posted at start lines and can assist with most mechanical issues.
Pringle said local affinity groups will be staffing the event, such as the Kingston High School Key Club and Boy Scout Troop 1571 out of Poulsbo. “We rely heavily on volunteers and couldn’t do these events without their support,” she said.