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Pedaling around town

How to cycle your way through the summer in Tacoma

Vintage racing bikes mounted on the walls of the bike-friendly bar and barbershop, Broken Spoke. The bikes shown were restored and mounted by Brent Todd, a regular at Broken Spoke. Photo credit: Christina Butcher

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Sometimes, the last thing any of us want to do on a beautiful summer day is jump into our cars -- which are no doubt hot and stuffy under the heat of the sun -- just to make our way to our favorite neighborhood spots. It's just uncomfortable, not to mention non-ecofriendly, so we're suggesting an alternative method of transportation this summer: the bicycle.

Bicycling through Tacoma's urban jungle will not only let you relish in fresh air rushing against your skin, but it gives you a chance to zip past those pesky traffic jams, saves you gas money and is much better for the environment than motor vehicles. There are plenty of bike-friendly spots around Tacoma, too, all of which make pedaling -- instead of driving -- through the summer a pure delight:

A mural painted inside Broken Spoke, a bike-friendly bar and barber shop in Hilltop neighborhood, Tacoma. Photo credit: Christina Butcher

Start off on the right pedal by heading straight to Second Cycle, a community-based bicycle education center, for new and used bikes, and repair and workspace in Hilltop neighborhood. Second Cycle offers a great space to make repairs on your bike, learn about maintenance and components, or attend youth bike programming throughout the year. The shop also hosts low-key, small concerts featuring local bands throughout the year. The concerts are intermittent, though, and may be publicized via word-of-mouth, so it helps to pop into the workspace to find out what's happening in-person. 1205 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253.327.1916,

Once your bike is in tip-top shape, head down the street to Broken Spoke Tacoma for a celebratory beer. Broken Spoke is a casual neighborhood bar and barber shop found in the heart of Hilltop, Tacoma. Its gritty bicycle theme includes bicycle parts and murals on the walls, as well as bike racks inside and outside of the bar area. You can enjoy locally crafted beer, cider or wine after you lock-up your bike, then get a fresh buzz from the in-house barber shop while you wait out the summer heat.

Broken Spoke is also participating in Tacoma Beer Week, which runs through Saturday. The bar is hosting  a"Build Your Own Playlist with Pelican (Brewing)" event Thursday, Aug. 9, and a "Drunk Spelling B" featuring Double Mountain Brewery Saturday, Aug. 10. 1014 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253.212.2630,

"I love Tacoma because there's a lot of effort that goes into shared bike lanes and making space for cyclists on the roadway," said Brent Todd, a vintage racing-bike restorer and a regular at Broken Spoke. Todd is also the founder of a brand-new, bike-centered startup called Echo Velo. Through his new business, Todd plans to restore and modify commuter bikes to deliver a more fun, fresh cycling experience to riders.

"We have every type of riding terrain you can imagine here. If you can ride in Tacoma, you can ride anywhere in the world," said Todd.

For readers who are looking to get their exercise in without sticking to the roadway, The Handlebar Cycling Studio offers a great alternative. Handlebar is a locally owned, indoor cycling studio offering a variety of spin classes in an intimate space. Cycle and TRX, Ride and Shine, Happy Hour Cycle and Rhythm Ride are just a few of the themed classes offered there. Classes are usually set to music and participants are expected to burn anywhere from 400 to 800 calories per class. 715 Commerce St., Tacoma, 971.237.3470,

Another way to keep your feet on the pedals while having fun is to meet up with VeloFemmes, a women's bicycle club in the greater Tacoma area. VeloFemmes consists of women who "come together with the goal of sharing a love of bicycles and inspiring other women to ride bikes." The group rides regularly on Monday mornings and Wednesday evenings and holds special annual rides including a weekend-long trip to McMenamins Olympic Club in Centralia, Super Bowl Ride on Orting Trail, and its popular Little Black Dress Anniversary Ride. Visit for weekly ride and special event information.

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