POULSBO — Calling cyclists from all over western Washington and beyond — the Viking Tour will once again be a big part of this year’s Viking Fest.
In it’s fourth year, the Viking Tour is a large-scale group ride that begins and ends right here in the city at Centennial Park. It’s a race for all ages and abilities as there are three different routes that riders can take, ranging from easy to challenging.
The Viking Tour is a Poulsbo Rotary event and it was founded by two Rotarians as a way to give the final day of Viking Fest a bit of a boost in terms of activities. The race also helps expand the image of the Rotary Club beyond being a simple philanthropic organization, though it is certainly an important component of what they do.
“It’s something that helps people view the Rotary in a different manner,” Nick Johnson, one of the founders of the Viking Tour, said. “We’re not just a check-writing organization, we want to show people there are different things we do.”
All three races begin at 9 a.m. on Sunday, May 20. The 18-mile road race, called “The Freyja” is a relaxing jaunt through North Kitsap up along Liberty Bay through Lemolo, and then up toward Port Gamble Road to Striebel’s Corner and back. “The Thor,” a 30-mile ride, is a little more challenging and takes cyclers up through Port Gamble and along the Hood Canal Bridge to Four Corners and back. Then there is the 60-mile race, “The Odin,” which includes the previous two routes, but first takes a detour all the way up to Hansville and NE Twin Spits Road. “The Odin” incorporates over 4,000 feet of climbing on the course.
All bikers are also free to participate in what’s known as the “poker run.” At each rest stop, cyclists can pick up a playing card, and the person with the best poker hand at the finish wins a prize.
“It will take time, but we want to create something that’s known as one of those rides you need to do,” Johnson said. “It’s a good training ride for experienced cyclists, and we’ve been getting a decent amount of people from the Seattle area who use it as a training ride.”
All road-worthy vehicles are welcome. At last year’s race, one gentleman ventured to ride a penny-farthing, the 1800’s-style bicycle with one very large front wheel and a small back wheel, Johnson said.
Parking will be available at the Doctor’s Clinic parking lot across the street from Centennial Park. The 9 a.m. start coincides with the arrival of the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, giving riders from across the water time to get to Poulsbo.
Riders can register at poulsbovikingtour.com through Friday evening. But for those making the last-second decision, you can also register at the packet pick up on Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Western Red Brewing, or on site the morning of the race up until 9 a.m.
There will be a post-race taco bar, with gluten-free options, provided by Coffee Oasis, along with a beer garden and local wines.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.