Washington is on the cusp of Fall and what better way to enjoy the crisp air and change in seasons than by cycling for a cause. The non-profit American Lung Association (ALA) in Washington is putting on its second annual Reach the Beach fundraiser on Saturday, September 29. Not only is it guaranteed to be a good ride, it’s also a great opportunity to hit the road and advocate for everyone who breathes.

reach the beach cyclist on path
Last year there was a whopping 850 riders that participated in the Reach the Beach event.
Photo courtesy: American Lung Association

During the Reach the Beach event, hundreds of cyclists will ride on an ideal fast and flat scenic route mapped through Thurston and Grays Harbor counties. There was a great turnout last year and the ALA is excited to bring back the event this year.

“Reach the Beach Washington is really a way for the American Lung Association to engage with the Grays Harbor and Thurston county communities and what our mission is,” says Season Oltmann, executive director of the ALA in Washington. “It’s also a way for us to bring constituents of ours from other counties and really show off the beautiful counties that are Thurston and Grays Harbor county.”

The ALA works to prevent lung cancer, help people with lung disease and promote lung health for all people, making their cause truly relatable to everyone.

At Reach the Beach, participants can choose from multiple options on the route that make it suitable for cyclists at different skill levels. Riders can choose from four starting points from Lacey (100 miles), Olympia (81 miles), Elma (44 miles), or Cosmopolis (25 miles) that all end at the beach in Westport for a well-earned celebration.

“The last eight miles are actually on the bike track on the dunes of the beach at Westport, which is just a really beautiful route,” says Oltmann.

Whether riders want to do a quick ride from Cosmopolis to Westport, or more seasoned riders want to take on the full route, the ALA has participants covered with mechanic and medical personnel at the ready and rest stations along the way that will provide a lunch and snacks.

For those looking to spend the Friday night before the event in Elma and start at the halfway point at the Elma High School in the morning, a great lodging option can be found at the Stay Beyond Inn & Suites, or for the outdoorsy types, there are campground sites at the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds for $20 per night that have on-site bathrooms and showers. For a quick bite to eat, check out the Rusty Tractor or SchuJacks Bar & Grill for a tasty meal.

Once the event begins, there are rest stops every 15 miles and participants won’t want to pass up the last stop before the finish line.

“Our last rest stop of the day is the Westport Winery,” Oltmann says. “They’re giving us ten percent off anything that is purchased that day in the tasting room. And we’re doing a wine valet service so people can buy wine at the winery and we’ll bring it out to the finish line for them.” What a sweet deal to be able to buy some delicious wine and fund raise at the same time.

reach the beach cyclists smiling
Go solo or go with a team to make the Reach the Beach event a fun and unforgettable day ending in the beautiful town of Westport. Photo courtesy: American Lung Association

To top off the event, local restaurant and brewery Blackbeard’s Brewing will be serving beer at the finish line and local restaurant Aloha Alabama BBQ & Bakery will be catering the dinner that evening.

For people looking to wind down their evening at the beach and stay overnight, check out the lodging options at the Chateau Westport Resort or Vacations By The Sea for an event discount. Then enjoy the rest of the weekend perusing local shops, climbing the outlook tower overlooking the jetty, or visiting the Westport Maritime Museum among many other activities. There are also scrumptious local restaurant choices. Visitors won’t want to pass on some fresh and delicious seafood, like the mouthwatering fish and chips at Bennett’s Fish Shack.

Reach the Beach is patterned after an annual cycling event in Oregon that has been going on for 27 years by the same name. Bringing it to Washington has been a great experience for ALA and for riders, many breaking their personal records during the event in 2017. For any cyclists looking to end the cycling season with a century ride, this route is the perfect opportunity to check it off the list.

reach the beach man with arm in air
A lot of riders broke their personal records at the Reach for the Beach event last September, making the day memorable in many ways. hoto courtesy: American Lung Association

If cycling isn’t a possibility, people can also find volunteer opportunities to support this great cause and be a part of communities coming together.

“There’s lot of volunteer opportunities for students or any groups all the way along the route,” Oltmann says.

With no cutoff date, registration for the event is $55 with a minimum of $150 in fundraising to join. For more information on registration, incentives, volunteering, or donating, visit the Reach for the Beach Washington website.

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