The Northwest Tandem Rally has been held annually in a different city since its inception in 1986, and this is the first year that Bellingham will be the host city. (Spokane hosted the tandem riders gathering in 2011.) The Mount Baker Bicycle Club is welcoming the 2015 Northwest Tandem Rally July 2-6, 2015.

The five-day festival, which includes supported bicycle rides and other special events, is expected to draw 700-1,000 bicyclists to the north Pacific coast over Fourth of July weekend. Even though the event is geared towards tandems, single bikes and their riders are welcome too. Summertime in Bellingham and Whatcom and Skagit counties is spectacular, and organizers encourage participants to come for the cycling and stay for the kayaking, whale-watching, craft breweries, hiking and other outdoor activities.

Bellingham-based Tandem Diversity, which offers tandem tours, rentals, resources and more (www.tandemdiversity.com), is this year’s exclusive title sponsor. “Bellingham has an enthusiastic bicycle-riding culture, and we’re excited to bring many more cyclists to our hometown, especially in July during Bellingham’s best time of year,” says Mark Owings, co-owner of Tandem Diversity. “We’re ready to show off our scenic cycling roads, including Chuckanut Drive, Birch Bay, and Lake Whatcom’s north shore.”

The 2015 event includes four days of bicycle riding. The July 3 ride is a 20-30-mile Tour de Bellingham, with a marked-and-signed route that passes everything a cyclist could want: bike shops, coffee shops, bakeries and brewpubs. The July 4 ride features a mass start through town with mileage options in the northern part of the county ranging from 25-65 miles on a mostly flat course with views of Mount Baker and the coast. The July 5 ride takes tandems down world-famous Chuckanut Drive, through the quaint towns of Bow, Edison and Alger; through blueberry farms and past inland lakes. Mileage options on this hilly southern route are 20, 40, or 55 miles. For those who want even more of a strenuous ride, the Chuckanut loop portion of the ride will be offered twice (the double-Chuckanut Challenge). Monday July 6 completes the rally with a 30-mile self-guided tour of Lake Whatcom’s north shore, a favorite locals’ ride.

Post-ride lunches at Boundary Bay Brewing Company and the Bellingham Farmer’s Market, a vendor expo featuring local and national bicycle-related businesses, complimentary post-ride mini-massages, a Bellingham Bay dinner cruise; the annual banquet featuring Northwest cuisine, a local craft beer tasting party, and live music; and other events are planned. More info: www.Nwtr.org. //