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Ski to Sea cyclist’s run-in with cops serves as course reminder

Mud sticks to a mountain bike rider and bike after riding through the trails during the cyclocross leg of the 2013 Ski to Sea race on May 26, 2013. A cyclist practicing this year’s course went through restricted airport property, prompting a reminder from race officials to stay out of that area.
Mud sticks to a mountain bike rider and bike after riding through the trails during the cyclocross leg of the 2013 Ski to Sea race on May 26, 2013. A cyclist practicing this year’s course went through restricted airport property, prompting a reminder from race officials to stay out of that area. The Bellingham Herald

A Ski to Sea cyclist who entered restricted airport property to practice the course has event organizers reminding participants that some sections are off limits until just before race day.

A man on a mountain bike entered Bellingham International Airport property Tuesday, April 5, prompting contact from sheriff’s deputies who were practicing vehicle maneuvers in the area, Undersheriff Jeff Parks said Thursday.

A portion of this year’s 13-mile cyclocross biking course cuts through the northwestern edge of airport property, according to maps on the event’s website. That particular area of the airport, Parks added, is an unused runway that the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office often uses for training.

Other sections of the cyclocross course cross into private property, said Ski to Sea Executive Director Mike Trowbridge. The cyclocross course is the race’s only section, Trowbridge added, that has restricted portions.

The man did not come close to aircraft or danger while he was in the area, Parks said, adding that he was not detained or arrested, nor was a report filed. Airport property is marked with no-trespassing signs and surrounded by fences, Parks said, but it wasn’t clear how the man was able to get inside.

If you’re in an area that’s a controlled area that’s fenced off and posted, that’s for a reason.

Undersheriff Jeff Parks

“He was just there at the wrong time,” Parks said, adding that security simply explained that he couldn’t be in the area at that time.

Even though the man was not in an operational area of the airport, it still caught officials off guard, Parks said.

“If you’re in an area that’s a controlled area that’s fenced off and posted, that’s for a reason,” Parks said. “If you’re not expecting someone to be there, that can present some issues or some risks.”

Ski to Sea organizers addressed the incident in a newsletter released April 6. The annual race, scheduled for May 29, is a seven-leg relay from Mt. Baker Ski Area to Fairhaven.

“We were immediately contacted by the Sheriff’s Department and The Port of Bellingham about this incident and as you can imagine, those are not calls we like to receive,” the newsletter says.

Trowbridge said anyone interested in practicing that section of the cyclocross course can do so during a practice scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 28, the day before the race. Giving everyone the same opportunity to practice that section will keep the playing field even, he added.

Trowbridge said the racer involved in Tuesday’s incident would not be prevented from racing.

“We want to keep people informed that that is a restricted area at the airport in addition to the private property that the course passes over,” he said. “We want to maintain our relationship with the port and with the private individuals and don’t want to jeopardize our access to that area.”

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

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