By Ben Olson
Hailed as one of the finest charity rides in the country, the annual CHAFE 150 Gran Fondo bicycle ride organized by the Sandpoint Rotary Club is our community at its best. The ride features a number of different routes for all levels of experience — everything from the four-mile Family Fun Ride to the 150-mile route taking riders into Montana and back along beautiful highways and county roads.
The ride day is Saturday, June 18, when participants will begin to gather outside Trinity at City Beach starting at 5 a.m. for race-day registration and last-minute safety briefings before clipping in and hitting the road.
Routes for the 150-, 100- and 80-mile circuits have changed slightly from previous years, with riders being diverted off of Highway 200 at Clark Fork to ride along the Cabinet Gorge Road on the other side of the river. Riders will also leave the highway in Hope, taking the bypass from Denton Slough all the way to the Hope bridge.
The best part about this cool ride? It’s a fundraiser for education initiatives in our community.
Sandpoint Rotarian and member of the CHAFE 150 ride committee Mel Dick said that by the end of the 2022 race, CHAFE 150 will have raised and donated somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million for education and other youth activities.
“It takes a village,” Dick told the Reader. “There are over 150 people involved just to put the CHAFE on. There’s also a small, passionate group that works year round on the CHAFE. And the sponsors — I cannot say enough good about the sponsors. The community comes out and businesses support us. The ride would not be possible without our sponsors.”
Litehouse is the presenting sponsor this year, with gold level sponsors including KPND, Remax, Timberline Helicopters, Like Media, Kochava, Gary and Julie French, and Ting.
Each year, funds from the CHAFE 150 help support educational services for the youth in our community.
“We change the recipient every three years,” Dick said. “This year’s ride, as well as the next two years, the major recipient is the Book Trust Program.”
Lake Pend Oreille School District Director for After School Programs Lorainne Gee and LPOSD Director of Teaching and Learning Andra Murray gave a presentation to the Sandpoint Rotary in January outlining the many benefits accrued to local school children by past funds donated by CHAFE rides. The Book Trust Program enables all first- and second-grade students to purchase their own books on a monthly basis during the school year for reading in the classroom or at home.
“We know reading opens doors and literacy programs open doors to success for our students,” Murray said.
“If we grew up in a family that was a reading family, we take for granted that a lot of people didn’t,” Dick said.
Hope Elementary School Principal Sherri Hatley estimated that the Book Trust Program would benefit about 600 students at seven local elementary schools by giving each kid $17 per month to spend on books.
“At the end of the year, if each student gets two or three books per month, that means we’ll have an extra 10,000 to 11,000 books in our community,” Hatley said.
To help generate additional support, CHAFE 150 riders are encouraged to raise funds on their own for the cause through pledged donations, with those who raise the most receiving an assortment of prizes ranging from bicycles to free registrations for future rides.
It’s not too late to register, said Dick: “You can register the day of the event. With this cold weather this spring, a lot of people might be out of touch with their training, so you can always ride the 25- or 40-mile ride, or do the four-mile Family Fun Ride on Sand Creek.”
Added in 2019, the Family Fun Ride is organized by Sandpoint Rotary, Sandpoint Parks and Recreation, the city of Ponderay, Litehouse YMCA and Lake Pend Oreille School District. It begins and ends at the same spot as the other rides, but Family Fun Riders will take an immediate right off of Bridge Street and follow the Sand Creek bike path into Ponderay, turn around and head back to Sandpoint City Beach for the community wide after party. There will also be kids’ activities sponsored by Litehouse YMCA.
“Just go down and register the day of the ride,” said Dick. “Bring your whole family down and have some fun.”
For more information about the CHAFE 150, please visit chafe150.org.
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