This year’s Clean Air Challenge, an annual cycling event that raises money for lung health, is set for May 10, and there is more reason than ever to celebrate. 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the Clean Air Challenge, and fans of the popular long-distance ride continue to enjoy it.
Cyclists are not only riding to challenge their own fitness, but they are also raising a minimum of $500 for the American Lung Association to help keep kids off tobacco, support seniors with lung disease, and advocate for clean, healthy air.
This year’s ride includes a few notable changes, said Marge Stoneking, Alaska director of the American Lung Association. For starters, all rides will begin and end at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge.
“Trekkers can choose to ride 10, 26, 58, 84, or 100 miles,” Stoneking said. “The new route leads west on the Talkeetna Spur Highway bike path to the Parks Highway, and then north toward Denali and back. This northern route has wide shoulders, less traffic, and more Denali views than ever before.”
Thanks to the improved safety of this route, all ages are now welcome, Stoneking added. The ride is fully supported, so cyclists need only bring safe riding gear – including the required helmets – and their enthusiasm. Children 12 and younger can participate as passengers or cyclists in the shorter, 10- and 26-mile rides, and The Alaska Club also is sponsoring a kid-centered event – the Kids Challenge – from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the lodge’s picnic pavilion and lawn.
“Kids Challenge will include crafts, obstacle course, bike decorating, bounce house, face painting and more,” Stoneking said.
With the arrival of Clean Air Challenge, the cycling season is now officially under way, Stoneking said.
“Clean Air Challenge is the first big cycling event of the season, and the premier Alaskan cycling event, with four-star accommodations at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge for every trekker,” she said. And even though it is not a race, it’s a good early-season mileage building for more serious cyclists – or a leisurely family activity for those who want to ride at a slower pace.
Other highlights this year include:
• The Carhartt Brothers band, playing Saturday evening.
• Private and/or second rooms for those who raise a higher level of money.
• 30th anniversary cycling jerseys, available at secure3.convio.net/ala/site/Ecommerce/288149111?FOLDER=1240&store_id=14621
“In the 30 years since Clean Air Challenge began, thousands of Alaskans have raised millions of dollars for lung disease research and clean air advocacy,” Stoneking said. “You can truly save lives and experience the ride of your life.”