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Registration for Mercer Island’s first official cycling race begins this week
It might be hard to believe, but Mercer Island has never, at least in recent years, hosted an official cycling race. That is about to change.
This June, the Island will host a cycling race that is part of the Northwest Senior Games. Regionally, events such as hockey, running, pickleball and swimming will be held for people ages 50 and older.
Richard Daifuku, an Island resident and cyclist who spearheaded the event, said the route is one that he rides regularly and he often wondered about a race on the Island. He said he knew there was interest in an event on the Island, a popular route for cyclists in the area, but for whatever reason one has never been done.
“I thought that maybe if the route didn’t cross any major intersections, it would be a plus,” said Daifuku about getting the race approved by the various Island organizations. “The police have been extremely cooperative.”
The race, which takes place on June 13, will go from the Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club south along West Mercer Way onto East Mercer Way before finishing at the Mercerwood Shore Club. The 9.8-mile course starts at 8:30 a.m. and is a time trial, meaning that racers will start every 30 seconds, staggered along the course, so there won’t be any major biking backups along the route.
Registration for the event will begin on April 15 for people 40 years old and up. Daifuku said because the event is part of the Senior Games, there is a push to encourage older people to participate, but anyone over 20 will have a chance to register after May 9 if slots are available. Registration closes on June 6, and 180 places are available for the race. The registration cost is $30.
“I’m very much into supporting fitness for older people,” said Daifuku, but he acknowledged that younger participants would likely be interested in the event.
Compared to other races, this course is different in the fact that it isn’t straight and flat, said Daifuku, a longtime cyclist and racer.
“Usually races are straight-out-and-back type deals,” he said. The Mercer Island course provides some variation in elevation, and curves along East Mercer Way “should make it fun,” said Daifuku. Those curves, however, are one area where course monitors will be in high demand, just in case something happens. Daifuku said having volunteers along those curves to keep an eye on the race, as well as to assist in case of any accidents, will be crucial.
“If there is an accident, we just want to make sure someone can get to them right away,” he said. Especially considering that some of the faster racers could hit speeds of 25 or 30 miles per hour. While he already has some volunteers lined up, Daifuku said that, ideally, he’d like to have at least 20 signed up to help.
“I really want a lot of course monitors,” he said. He added that it would be especially helpful if volunteers who live on Mercer Island register to help, as they will already be equipped to answer many Island-related questions.
The race has been capped at an hour time limit, and Daifuku said he expects the top finishers to be done in about 20 minutes.
“We’re really encouraging older [cyclists] to come out,” he said. “I’m counting on some of the people being in their 70s.” He added that he hopes the race will draw some of the top amateur cyclists in the state and region.
“I would be surprised if it doesn’t sell out,” he said.
For more information on the race and to register, visit www.northwestseniorgames.org. Anyone interested in volunteering at the event can e-mail Richard Daifuku at firstname.lastname@example.org.