While Bike the Bluff, now in its 18th year, has a tradition of fundraising and community building, for one Bike the Bluff rider it's become a father-son tradition that started 12 years ago.
Larry Soriano, a 20-year Magnolia resident, participated in his first Bike the Bluff 12 years ago with his two eldest sons Eric and Scott, who were 8- and six 6-years-old at the time.
"Those two have outgrown it, but last year I did it with my youngest son, Jonathon," Soriano said. Last year, Jonathon was a fifth-grader at Catharine Blaine K-8 School and Soriano hopes to ride Bike the Bluff with his 12-year-old son again this year.
"We've had a lot of fun with it," Soriano said. "They enjoy the bike part very much, and even when they got tired, the barbecue lunch at the end always kept them going."
"The event has a multitude of good benefits, but for them it was more about the snacks," Soriano added. "Food was a good motivator for them."
In 12 years, Soriano said there haven't been any mishaps and he doesn't ever recall riding in the rain, but one year him and his sons discovered a flattened, dried out squirrel on the path. "The boys were pretty impressed with that," Soriano adds hesitantly, but unable to hold the laughter.
Though the flat squirrel may have interested young children riding the 5- or 7-mile loop, that's not the kind of entertainment Soriano seeks out when he rides Bike the Bluff.
"It's a very sociable event. It's not like you just ride the course and don't talk to anybody," he said.
And on the plus side, "It's not electronic. It gets the kids away from the screen-the more we can do that the better. It's an unplugged event."
For the third year in a row, proceeds from Bike the Bluff, which is Sept. 12, will go toward Catharine Blaine K-8 School. The first year the proceeds benefited campus improvements, and the money raised this year will go toward a four-day environmental science camp on Bainbridge Island for Blaine's incoming fifth-graders, the same program the money went to last year. Last year's Bike the Bluff raised $5,000 with almost 200 participants, according to fifth-grade parent volunteer Nancy Gilbert.
This year's ride features four scenic detours that can add anywhere from one to six and half miles to the ride. There will also be a flatter sidewalk route for younger cyclists, which they can ride for one mile to a water station for a snack and then head back to Blaine.
Registration costs $15 for participants 12 and older, $10 for children under 12 and $30 for a family. Registration opens at 10 a.m., and riders can register at anytime after then, though the course closes at 2 p.m. The barbecue, which is open to everyone, lasts from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. and also raises money for the fifth-grade camp.