A New Cycle

COVID-19 won't stop Redmond Cycling Club.

Joe Matthews only got into long-distance cycling after his brother challenged him to complete the Seattle to Portland (STP) bike ride in the 1990s. Matthews couldn’t back down, of course. After STP, the Redmond resident wanted more, so he embarked on the Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day (RAMROD) — a single-day event that celebrates the beauty of Mount Rainier National Park and features a challenging course of 150 miles and 10,000 feet of climb.

“I fell in love with the ride,” he said. “The beauty of the park, the physical challenge — the experience was amazing.”

He was hooked. Since then, Matthews has cycled in myriad races and challenges and now serves as president of the Redmond Cycling Club (RCC). RCC was founded in 1978 amid increasing popularity of cycling in the U.S. The club began from a core group of friends who were riding regularly. Within a few years, RAMROD founder John Dixon brought the RAMROD cycling event to RCC, which it now stewards.

For more than 40 years, RCC has fostered a passionate cycling community of more than 400 members. Although based in Redmond, the club attracts riders throughout the Seattle and Eastside communities, Matthews said. RCC holds regular rides, cycling events, and club meetings throughout the year and across the state.

“It’s true to what it was since the ’80s,” Matthews said. “It’s made up of people who love riding and creating community.”

Unlike other cycling clubs, which often center around racing and competitions, Matthews said RCC is made up of people who just love to ride. “There’s this strong sense of passion, a strong sense of gravity (of this club),” he said.

This club has a charitable vein as well. As stewards of the annual RAMROD ride, RCC members donate to Washington’s National Park Fund (WNPF). Over the years, RAMROD has donated more than $170,000, according to the WNPF website. “I think it’s a proof point of the RCC community and park relationship,” Matthews said.

Most years, RCC would organize rides from February to August, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the club to cancel its scheduled meetups, rides, and events. Despite the cancelations, Matthews said the club has found a way to get members riding safely.

Enter the Solo-na series. Not long after the COVID-19 restrictions went into effect in March, RCC vice president and ride coordinator Per Sunde started developing routes designed for solo rides.

There are about 30 custom routes that range from as far north as Lynnwood to as far south as Maple Valley and Auburn. The routes have been carefully designed to avoid recreation paths and high-traffic roads. Ride lengths range between 18 to 27 miles, so they can be completed without requiring food or rest stops.

“We wanted our members to still get out there and ride if they wanted to,” Matthews said. “It’s a great way to get out and encourage cycling.”

The response has been extremely positive. “People have been really appreciative about this,” Matthews said. “I’ve ridden all 30 routes myself. These routes are amazing.”

Matthews added that the Solo-na routes have helped maintain the sense of community within the club over the past 10 months and said more routes will be added for the winter and spring months ahead. Future meets, events, and rides will reconvene when it’s safe to do so, Matthews added.

Ramrod 2019.

JOE MATTHEWS’ TOP 5 CYCLING SPOTS

The Burke-Gilman Trail

Cross Kirkland Corridor

Snoqualmie Valley Trail

Mercer Island Loop

Tolt-Pipeline Trail

Gearing for Outdoor Fitness

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GARNEAU JR COMP 2 TRIATHLON SHORTS

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