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.
JOE MATTHEWS’ TOP 5 CYCLING SPOTS
The Burke-Gilman Trail
Cross Kirkland Corridor
Snoqualmie Valley Trail
Mercer Island Loop
Gearing for Outdoor Fitness
Whether you’re the ultimate triathlete or you’re just getting started, having the right equipment, clothes, and accessories is important. Get ready to start strong with new gear in the new year.
FAST ‘N FLIRTY PAINT NIGHT RUNNING SKIRT
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Wondering what to wear under your skirt? Try the new Ultralight Sweet Spot Panties with a functional cellphone pocket. These are one of the lightest full-coverage compression shorts that won’t ride up.
GHOST 13 WOMEN’S RUNNING SHOES
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SUPERFEET ORANGE INSOLES
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PROFILE-LITE TRAIL RUNNER BOTTLE WAISTPACK
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ADRENALINE GTS 21 MEN’S RUNNING SHOES
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One of Brooks’ best sellers, the new men’s Adrenaline GTS 21 features extended DNA LOFT plus GuideRails support — a sure-fire recipe for comfort that’s custom made for your stride.
PEARL IZUMI WOMEN’S SYMPHONY THERMAL JERSEY
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With hand-stitched accents and zippered front pockets, the Symphony Jersey wouldn’t look out of place on a hike or in the coffee shop. The rear kangaroo pocket is large with easily reached openings, plus a zippered security pocket. The four-way stretch knit is breathable but keeps the wind out.
PEARL IZUMI WOMEN’S ESCAPE SUGAR THERMAL TIGHT
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Stay comfortable, dry, and warm during cool rides in the Women’s Escape Sugar Thermal Cycling Tights. Without a built-in chamois, these tights can be worn as is, or paired with a favorite pair of cycling shorts for padded comfort.
MICRO-LIGHT FLASHING ARMBAND
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GARNEAU EDGE 2 JERSEY
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The Edge 2 Jersey is one of the most comfortable midweight long-sleeved jerseys on the market. Soft to the touch and warm enough to layer with or use on its own, the Edge 2 will get you through the majority of your winter riding.
GARNEAU JR COMP 2 TRIATHLON SHORTS
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For your young triathlete, the Louis Garneau JR Comp 2 Tri Shorts offer comfortable compression and support. These tri shorts are perfect for swimming, riding, and running.