As the winter Olympics wind down and the snow melts away from the Valley floor, I’m reminded that spring is on the horizon.
With the warmer temperatures and longer days, one has the chance to revisit many outdoor activities that may have been put on hold during the cold, foggy winter months. Although we are still only in late February, I can already sense the hopefulness that comes with spring weather. This is particularly true for people looking to get outside to ride their bikes, and as a member of the Wheatland Wheelers Cycling Club, one can see the momentum building just by stopping by one of the many group rides that take place here in the valley each week.
With the weather starting to improve, it is easier to get outside, and also start thinking about building goals for the coming year. For many people, fitness goals involve getting healthy; perhaps getting to, or maintaining, a weight goal or working towards completing a race or event of some kind. If you’ve not thought about choosing an event to compete in, perhaps this is the year you consider finding a local event that challenges you thought you could achieve.
We are lucky here in Walla Walla to have a number of fun endurance events. With relatively low rainfall, and lower elevations (and thus typically warmer temperatures), our region can play host to many top notch events through the spring that leave others envious. I know this feeling of envy first hand, having lived all over the Northwest before migrating back to Walla Walla several years ago.
If you find yourself looking for that extra motivation to get moving this spring, think about choosing an area event to train for as the weather warms up. Walla Walla and the surrounding area has a plethora of running events ranging from 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) up to a full marathon. There are also many cycling events such as the Tour of Walla Walla, a cycling stage race which takes place in mid-April and attracts racers from all over the northwest. The fall season also brings about cyclo-cross racing (a mix of road and mountain racing) and there are great mountain biking opportunities in the Blue Mountains if one is looking for more rugged fun. If you’re looking for something more relaxed there are many touring rides, some of which visit local wineries, as well as weekly club rides hosted by each of the bike shops here in town. For more information on cycling rides, stop by one of the bike shops (Allegro Cyclery or Bicycle Barn) or check out the Wheatland Wheelers website. (www.wheatlandwheelers.com)
Looking for some more variety? Perhaps take on the challenge of a multisport event like the Onionman triathlon hosted at Bennington Lake in May. The Onionman is a staple for many multisport racers around the northwest, boasting typically good weather and a good opportunity to swim in open water for the first time for many northwest triathletes, all while maintaining a welcoming hometown-race feel.
Not a swimmer? Check out the newest event in the local multisport calendar, the Walla Walla Dirty Duathlon. A duathlon consists of running and cycling, and typically starts and finishes with similar length run sections, with a cycling portion in the middle. The event can be completed as an individual or as a team. The name Dirty Duathlon comes from the fact that the race is held entirely off road on the trail systems around Bennington Lake. With a March 9 race date and an all off-road course, the racers could be faced with a variety of conditions, which is all part of the fun.
This year’s race is filling up quickly with racers from around the Northwest looking to test themselves early in the year against a challenging course that promises to be a lot of fun. For more information on the Walla Walla Dirty Duathlon or Onionman triathlon, you can visit the Walla Walla Multisports website wwmultisports.com.
So whether you’re a multisport veteran searching for new races to take on, or just looking for some extra motivation as the days begin to lengthen and warm, think about setting yourself a goal for this year.
It’s never too late to get started and you’ll likely surprise yourself at what you can accomplish.
Michael Gordon is the Vice President of the Wheatland Wheelers Cycling Club, as well as a middle school teacher and coach in Walla Walla. He can be reached at email@example.com.