Cycology: Summer Cycling and Climate Change

Let’s start with an obvious fact: most people don’t love bicycling on cold, dark, and rainy days. Shocking, right?

Sure, I ride through the winter, wrapped in sweaty waterproof clothing and rain booties–but it’s an act of determination, not joy.

Summertime is when everyone becomes a cyclist. Long sunny days eliminate excuses and beckon us outside to explore and enjoy the beautiful Pacific Northwest, home to scenic landscapes that rival any place in North America. As someone who moved here in 2015, I wish someone had told me earlier that it doesn’t rain all the time in Seattle.

Here are some of the summer rides and routes I plan to pedal this season:

  • The Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, July 13-14. First held in 1979, Seattle to Portland (known as STP to its legions of fans) is one of the nation’s longest-running big group rides, attracting thousands of people annually to bike 206 miles over one or two days.
  • RSVP, or the Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party, Aug. 24-25. This ride began when Mt. St. Helens erupted, forcing Cascade Bicycle Club to cancel STP and re-route cyclists northward. People loved it, and another classic Pacific Northwest ride was born.
  • The Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail spans 287 miles from the Cedar Falls Trailhead near Seattle to the Idaho border. Some folks ride it in one long push, packing water, food, and camping gear. I’ve been ticking off sections of the trail every summer, and this season, I plan to pedal the segment between Ellensburg and the Beverly Bridge that passes over the Columbia River.
  • The three-day Port Townsend Tour, Aug. 16-18, is an excellent opportunity to explore the historic sites and coastal scenery near this Victorian community known for its wooden boats and high quality of life. This ride is one of four three-day tours organized by Cascade Bicycle Club.
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk


Summers here offer some of the best weather of anywhere I’ve lived–from New England to Colorado to Northern California. Unfortunately, the weather isn’t what it used to be.

Climate change is rapidly altering the patterns we’ve come to think of as normal. Heatwaves, catastrophic wildfires, and smoke-filled air have become more common. Climate change is not only a threat to bicycling but also to every outdoor activity we love as adventure seekers and nature lovers.

Washington state voters have a big decision to make in November. Ballot Initiative 2117 seeks to kill the state’s Climate Commitment Act adopted in 2022. I’ll be voting NO. How will you vote?

Think about it when you’re outdoors this summer, enjoying a beautiful bike ride, celebrating the magnificence of the Northwest, and wondering what it means to be a bicyclist.

Paul Tolme, the Journalist on the Loose, is an outdoors writer, award-winning environmental journalist, and blogger for Cascade Bicycle Club. He lives with his wife in a Seattle houseboat crammed with bikes, skis, snowboards, kayaks, and paddleboards but no regrets. His work can be seen at and

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