In July 1970, two young brothers, Mike and Rick Quam, called a public meeting to discuss bicycling in the Puget Sound region. Sons of a trail advocate, the Quam brothers saw the need for a bicycle club that wouldn’t just organize recreational group rides, it would also promote the development of bicycle trails in Washington. Thirty people, united by a love of bicycling, attended the public meeting and together, they grew the club, engaging a membership of 300 people within just two years.
Two early successes were Chilly Hilly and the Burke-Gilman Trail. In the 1970s and 80s, the volunteer-led club went on to create STP and RSVP, two iconic bike events. Fueled by excellent leadership and professional staff, in the 1990s and 2000s Cascade experienced rapid growth and expanded into bike education. In the 2010s, the organization’s size and stature has continued to grow. Today, 45 years since that first meeting, the Cascade Bicycle Club is a powerhouse in event-producing, bike education and bike advocacy with more than 15,000 members, 1,000 volunteers and 36 staff.
How far we’ve come!
In 1970, Cascade Bicycle Club was formed by brothers Mike and Rick Quam. The membership fee was $2; meetings were at Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island. The first newsletter, The Freewheeler, was produced that year.
In 1972, Cascade began lobbying for Burke-Gilman Trail.
In 1975, Cascade hosted the third annual Chilly Hilly ride on Bainbridge Island.
In 1979, the Club established the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. The next year, when the eruption of Mount St. Helens canceled STP, it created a ride to Vancouver, B.C.–later renamed from STV to Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party (RSVP). The 185-mile ride is limited to 2,000 riders.
In 1981, the Club produced its first logo. The Bicycle Bill was passed by state legislature in 1983 to establish the bicycle's role as vehicle and cyclists' rights to the road. The first Seattle Bicycle Expo took place in 1987. While previously an all volunteer club, a person was hired to direct the education committee.
By 1990, the Club moved into its first office, on Ravenna Boulevard, and took on a paid director.
In 1991, the Seattle to Portland ride had a record 10,000 participants. The club started producing the Flying Wheels Summer Century in 1993 and took over the Kitsap Color Classic in October 1994. By February 1995, the Bike Expo had its highest attendance at 12,871.
In January 1999, Cascade moved to Warren G. Magnuson Park. That year, the Ride Around Washington began its inaugural tour. By 2000, the Club turned toward becoming a professional organization, representing bicyclists to elected officials, community leaders and business owners. Cascade partnerships extend across greater Seattle.
In November 2014, Cascade moved their headquarters into the Cascade Bicycling Center, overlooking Lake Washington in Warren G. Magnuson Park.
In January 2016, Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes merged to form the largest statewide bicycle nonprofit in the country.