Tandem bike rally expected to bring 800 to Bellingham

Riders from across the country will be flocking to Bellingham on bicycles built for two — and even three or four — for the Northwest Tandem Rally.

Beginning with registration on Thursday, July 2, the rally will host events and rides through Monday, July 6. Cruises, fireworks viewing, live music, and an ice cream party are just a few of the events planned.

A mass ride will begin at 8:15 a.m. Saturday, July 4, when riders will be escorted from Civic Field by Bellingham’s restored antique fire engine.

From there, cyclists will head down Lakeway Drive to East Holly Street and on to Marine Drive. The route continues north to Ferndale, then riders will loop back to Bellingham along Northwest Avenue.

Two longer routes will take riders from Ferndale north to the Birch Bay area before looping back. The short route is 22 miles, the medium route is 47 miles, and the long route is 62 miles.

“It’s going to be a parade of tandems,” said Jennifer Longstaff, director of Mount Baker Bicycle Club. “The people in town are never going to see anything like this again.”

Registration and events will take place primarily at Best Western Lakeway Inn, 714 Lakeway Drive. Tickets purchased over the weekend are $100 per person and $20 for youths 17 and younger.

While tandem bikes are the primary audience for the rally, single riders are welcome to attend and participate in the rides through Whatcom and Skagit counties.

The Northwest Tandem Rally has been happening since 1986, drawing hundreds of riders each year to a different city in Washington, Oregon or Idaho. This year, at least 800 riders and spectators are expected in Bellingham.

Mount Baker Bicycle Club applied in 2013 to bring the rally here and will be sponsoring the event as it pedals through Whatcom County streets.

“It would be great for people in town who aren’t in the rally to wave and be good ambassadors for Bellingham,” Longstaff said. “Lots of people will be visiting for the first time.”

A full list of events and additional information about the rally is available at nwtr.org/2015/.

Libby Keller can be reached at 360-715-2242 or libby.keller@bellinghamherald.com