Rural healthcare is one of the most vital components of a growing community, and Summit Pacific Medical Center’s dedication to serving Grays Harbor County and beyond offers residents a place to receive high quality care close to home. With a singular goal in mind of building the healthiest community in the Nation, not only does Summit Pacific continue to expand their facility and services, but also implement events such as the upcoming Ride the Harbor: Tour de Wellness on June 17.
How Ride the Harbor Benefits Summit Pacific
Since Summit Pacific first opened their doors in 2013, they’ve had a busy decade growing and expanding in many facets, including their robust event calendar featuring many unique, health-focused happenings. Now an annual event, Ride the Harbor was designed as a scenic, fun, charity ride through beautiful Grays Harbor benefiting the Summit Pacific Medical Foundation. This year, the Medical Foundation will use the funds raised through sponsorships, ride costs, and donations, hopefully surpassing the goal of $85,000, to improve rural healthcare, purchase equipment, upgrade facilities, and fund staff and patient education programs.
Learning from Past Ride the Harbor Events
“This one-day cycling event was first tested as a pilot in 2020,” explains Natalie Jensen, event coordinator at Summit Pacific. “While the initial goal of 50 riders dwindled to 25 due to the pandemic, the ride still proved to be the effective trial run we wanted and helped to shape the ride and provide ideas for future years.”
The following 2021 Ride the Harbor proved to be the best event to date with a total of roughly 220 riders. After taking notes from last year and eliminating the previous minimum fundraising requirement, the 2023 event is poised to draw in hundreds of riders ages 16 and up from across the Pacific Northwest.
Plans for 2023 Ride the Harbor
Whether someone is looking to ride with a group of friends and family or individually as a personal challenge, Ride the Harbor offers three separate route lengths to meet the needs of beginners, experienced cyclists and everyone in between. All rides are untimed and begin at Beerbower Park in McCleary.
The Short Ride ends in Elma totaling in at 7.5 miles and is ideal for anyone looking to get the hang of riding in a race-like setting. The Intermediate Ride is 15 miles and weaves its way to the Wellness Center before returning to the starting line. For those looking for the ultimate challenge, the Advanced Ride is the way to go. With 52 miles of pavement ahead of them, this route takes participants past the green fields and forests of East County, down the old highway in Montesano, along the river on the winding Blue Slough Road to Cosmopolis, before cruising along Highway 105 to the coastal city of Westport. Here, the ultimate finish line awaits near the Westport Viewing Tower after a ride through Westport Light State Park.
With the fourth Ride the Harbor on the horizon, goals are set high for this year’s event. “One goal our CEO always talk about is this becoming a regional draw like some of the large races in Seattle and Portland,” explains Natalie. “It’d be really great if people begin to make this event a tradition and come in from all over to see our area, support rural healthcare, fill up local hotels, and help support local businesses and tourism.”
Grays Harbor Bicycle Ride Team Experience and Incentives
While riding individually is a draw for many, taking on Ride the Harbor with a team can be an exciting and uplifting experience. The minimum requirement for teams is set at five, and there are many benefits to team riding. One of these is increased visibility, not to mention the encouragement that team members provide one another both during pre-ride training and the event itself.
Additionally, putting together a team results in $9 off registration price for teams of five, $11 off registration for teams of 10, post-event food vouchers, recognition at the Finisher’s Festival, as well as team captains receiving an exclusive Ride the Harbor Captain’s race jersey. Many other benefits of team riding are available, and if that isn’t convincing enough, team riding is also proven to save between 20-40% of your energy!
Planning for a Bicycle Race
For many, looking at the course routes may seem intimidating, but the race organizers encourage anyone who owns a bicycle to come out and try the Basic Ride. “Ideally,” explains Brad Thomas, executive director of the Summit Pacific Medical Foundation, “we have riders who decide to join Ride the Harbor at the lowest level and then realize they can do more. It’s incredible to see people understand that they can push themselves and come back the following year to ride at the next level.” Summit Pacific also provides various training resources online to help participants train, prepare, and know what to expect prior to the event.
This year’s Ride the Harbor wouldn’t be possible without the presenting sponsor, Amerigroup. “Amerigroup has been super generous to us,” expresses Brad. “They are the economic engine that allows us to put on Ride the Harbor. Logistically, a cycling event like this is one of the most complicated events anyone can do, and Summit Pacific needs partners like them to continue putting this on each year.” Sponsorships at varying levels are still available which help benefit the Foundation’s cause.
Additionally, to help raise funds outside of sponsorships and event fees, there is an optional fundraising component with prize incentives for participants, plus, year’s top fundraiser will earn a hotel stay at the Finish Line or Starting Line for the 2024 event.
As hundreds of people mount their bikes this June, there’s plenty of opportunity to get involved without riding. “We’re always in need of volunteers,” states Natalie. “We need a minimum of 45-50 people across the county to assist staff at water stops, finish lines, registration and much more, and we welcome any interested community member to contact us.” In addition to volunteers, non-riders are welcome to support participants at the starting line or the finish lines.
“If we can be economic engine for a weekend in Grays Harbor and get people on a path to wellness,” says Brad, “then we’re doing our job. We encourage people to take ownership of their own health, and this event is a great step toward that.”
Early bird pricing closes on March 31 while standard pricing officially closes on May 30. Further event information and the registration link can be found on the Ride the Harbor: Tour de Wellness webpage. Interested sponsors can contact Brad directly at 360.346.2250 or firstname.lastname@example.org, while any other questions can be directed to Natalie at email@example.com.