It’s unlikely any participants of Magnolia’s 22nd annual Bike the Bluff will ride large, front-wheeled, penny-farthing bicycles. But when cyclists take to the Magnolia Bluff bike path on Sept. 8, Magnolia’s history of bicycling will be front and center.
The event helps support Catharine Blaine K-8’s fifth-grade class trip to Islandwood, an environmental science camp on Bainbridge Island. Local businesses have already sponsored more than $5,000 to offset the costs of the four-day class trip. The goal of the event is to collect $11,000.
Bike the Bluff will also serve as a local history lesson. The bike path has been ridden and loved since the late 1800s, winding through some of the most beautiful scenic areas in Seattle.
Brown T-shirts will be given out to registrants, featuring a penny-farthing bike. The shirts were designed to evoke the historical theme of the event.
Sprocketts Recycled Bicycles is the presenting sponsor of the fund-raiser. Owner Mike Benson said he loves to ride a bike around Magnolia because of the beauty of the area.
“It’s a fantastic place to ride just to check out everything in the area,” he said.
There are a variety of routes for cyclists of all ages. The 4.5- or 6-mile course begins and ends on the Catharine Blaine K-8 School playground, located immediately adjacent to the Pop Mounger Pool parking lot at 2535 32nd Ave. W.
There are four different scenic detours that can add distance for those looking for a challenge or a virtually flat, 2-mile, roundtrip sidewalk route for the youngest of riders.
Bike the Bluff planners hope people will sign up through their website, at BikeTheBluff.org.
Monica Wooton, president of the Magnolia Historical Society, researched the history of bicycling in the area. She found the weekly Seattle Times column “Sporting News and Other Gossip” regularly reported on the progress of the bike path in early 1900. One column, from March 30, 1900, stated: “The new Magnolia Bluff path...to ascertain its beauty and its many advantages, one must travel over it from beginning to end, and even then, half of the beauties of the road will be missed.”
This is certainly as true today as it ever was.
The Magnolia Historical Society and the Magnolia Community Club have volunteered to help raise funds for the event by offering to share the profits on the sales of their Magnolia history books. The award-winning book “Magnolia: Memories and Milestones” and “Magnolia: Making More Memories” can be purchased through the registration area of the BikeTheBluff.org site.
These coffee table books feature rich stories and pictures, with detailed and researched histories on such neighborhood landmarks as the West Point Lighthouse, Fort Lawton and Discovery Park. First-person narratives of life on Magnolia 1900 through the 1940s give us a glimpse of the dairies, drugstores and “dumb stunts” of the early days on Magnolia. Neighborhoods like Lawton Wood, the Magnolia Boulevard and Pleasant Valley are shown as they were and as they have evolved.
ERIC SOUZA is a parent of a fifth-grader attending Catharine Blaine K-8 School. To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.