Redmond resident Tim Arnold (right) has participated in the RedSpoke about 20 times and will make the five-day

Redmond resident Tim Arnold (right) has participated in the RedSpoke about 20 times and will make the five-day

RedSpoke: An adventurous investment on wheels

Although it's been more than two decades, Tim Arnold still remembers the first time he participated in the Rotary Club of Redmond's RedSpoke bike ride.

Although it’s been more than two decades, Tim Arnold still remembers the first time he participated in the Rotary Club of Redmond‘s RedSpoke bike ride.

A fellow rotarian had persuaded him to do it. Arnold barely trained, which he learned was a mistake when embarking on a five-day, 300-mile ride from Redmond to Spokane.

“Almost killed myself,” he said. “But recovered enough to do it again the next year…trained a little harder.”

Since then, the Redmond resident has participated in the ride about 20 times and this year is no different.

From July 13-17, the 63-year-old will be among more than 100 cyclists pedaling to raise money for Redmond-based Hopelink and Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Woodinville.

RedSpoke, the Rotary’s only fundraiser, has supported various local as well as international organizations during its 24 years of existence and Arnold said they have raised a total of about half of a million dollars. Money raised from some of those rides was donated to Redmond-based Hopelink, a human services nonprofit organization, Arnold said. This is the first time Little Bit, an organization that provides horseback riding programs for children and adults with disabilities, has benefitted from RedSpoke.

Arnold hasn’t done the Redmond-to-Spokane ride every year since he started because of injuries or other reasons, but has usually been involved in some capacity. He has been there to provide support for the riders, transporting their bags from one location to another as the riders would camp overnight in pre-designated areas. Arnold said they ride between about 40 and 80 miles per day. He has also been stationed at rest stops to give snacks and water to the riders throughout the days.

Arnold enjoys biking, but doesn’t consider it his passion. He sees it as a way to relax and unwind.

“I just kind of listen to what’s going on around me,” he said.

However, Arnold does do a little bit of training in preparing for RedSpoke. He said he will usually ride from Redmond to the University of Washington or ride around Lake Sammamish.

“If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll go riding around Lake Washington,” Arnold said.

William Miller, the chair for RedSpoke this year, said the Redmond-to-Spokane ride is challenging, but training isn’t necessary. They have had riders from all over the country as young as 9 to riders older than 70. He said one year, more than two dozen riders from Texas — a very flat state — participated and were able to complete the ride, which includes going through Steven’s Pass at a climb grade of 6 percent.

“You don’t have to have experience,” Miller said. “You just have to have determination.”

This is Miller’s third year being involved in RedSpoke, which takes about a year to plan and organize. He has worked several jobs and this year as chair, has been in charge of sponsorship, recruiting riders and overseeing support staff.

For Miller, one of the challenges of his job this year has been getting participants because five days is a big time commitment and it can be difficult for people to get time off from work. But because the ride is five days, Miller said it gives everyone a chance to bond like a family. He added that they cap the number of riders at 125 to keep things from too big.

“We really like to spend the time with the riders,” Miller said.

Arnold agreed. In addition to being a fundraiser, he said RedSpoke is a social event as many riders are like him and repeat the ride year after year. Arnold said this aspect allows people to feel more part of the event rather than just a number.

Making friends and getting to know his fellow riders is one of the things Arnold really enjoys about RedSpoke.

“You catch up on what they have been doing,” he said. “(RedSpoke) just allows you to maintain friendships.”

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