Bicycle tour season hits Northwest region

The pedaling season is shifting into high as organizers gear up for mass bicycle tours throughout the Northwest.

Most of these tours are fundraisers that feature great food, with cyclists happily donating to charitable causes in return for the pampering of a well-oiled event.

Participation ranges from around 100 in the ChaFE 150 benefit ride out of Sandpoint up to this year's cap of 10,000 entrants for the Seattle to Portland ride.

Some of the multiday rides are full of features, perhaps even portable showers and post-ride beer gardens.

A few popular tours have tight quotas that fill up months in advance. Others are low key with an emphasis on getting all sorts of people out on their bikes for a good time. Some tours already have occurred.

Top upcoming events in the region include:

-- TOSRV-West, the Tour of the Swan River Valley based in Missoula -- the granddaddy of the region's big group rides founded in 1970 -- May 30-31: The two-day ride has been scaled down from its heydays of 750 riders on a loop route to a tighter 300 riders covering either 85 or 110 miles each way. Info: www.missoulabike.org/

-- Apple Century by Wenatchee Sunrise Rotary, June 6: Ride 50 or 100 miles starting from Walla Walla Point Park in Wenatchee; expect about 900 riders. Info:www.applebikeride.com/

-- CHaFE 150 Bike Ride, June 13: A 147-mile loop with five food stops from Sandpoint, through Troy and Bonners Ferry and back (or choose the shorter 75-miler), benefits Panhandle Alliance for Education. Last year's inaugural event attracted 68 riders. Date changed this year to avoid conflict with other major rides. Info: http://chafe150.org/

-- Ann Weatherill Cycling Classic, June 20: With 30-, 66, and 100-mile routes near Walla Walla, includes food stop and post-ride wine and buffet. Benefits cycling safety. Info: www.annweatherillcycling classic.blogspot.com/

-- Tour de Blast, June 20: Attracts 1,400 riders to national monument roads in the Mount St. Helens volcanic blast zone. Routes cover 33, 54 or 82 miles, with the longest one tackling 6,240 feet in elevation gain to fantastic views. Info: www.tourdeblast.com/

-- Ride the Wall, June 21: About 150 riders of all ages celebrate the summer equinox in this 15-mile evening ride along the Coeur d'Alene River, followed by a barbecue. Benefits Habitat for Humanity. Info: www.hfhidaho.org/bike_event.htm#bike

-- Seattle to Portland (STP), July 11-12: Ride 200 miles, fully supported. The largest of the region's cycling events with 9,500 riders last year, sponsored by Group Health. Tight schedule? You can ride all 200 miles in one day. Info: www.cascade.org.

-- Loreen Miller Bike Ride, July 26: with 12-, 50- and 100-mile courses based out of Mt. Spokane High School. Benefits cancer patient care. Info: www.cancerpatientcare.org/

-- Tour de Lentil metric century, Aug. 22: Has three pit stops through the rolling Palouse hills based out of Pullman. Info: www.lentilfest.com/

-- Eight Lakes Leg Aches, Aug. 1: Ride 30-, 45-, and 75-mile routes around lakes in Spokane County with about 600 riders to benefit Sexual Assault and Family Trauma Response Center. Info: (509) 343-5020; www.lcsnw.org.

-- Tour de Coeur, Aug. 30: Ride easy route on Centennial Trail or 33/66 mile loops with doozie climbs along Lake Coeur d'Alene, for American Cancer Society. Info: www.acsidaho.org.

-- Great Northwest Fall (Bicycle) Tour, Sept. 6: Choose from 15, 30, 50, or 85-mile routes through rural Pend Oreille County and along the Pend Oreille River, plus food stops and a meal at the finish. Info: http://gnwft.homestead.com/