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Riding for Literacy

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Bull River Valley in Fall photo by Randy Beacham Bull River Valley in Fall photo by Randy Beacham

Bicycling event takes place in early September

Registration is open for the CHaFE 150, which premieres on Saturday, September 13, on a nearly 150-mile loop route from Sandpoint, Idaho, through northwestern Montana and back to Sandpoint. This first annual ride is limited to just 250 entrants, accepted on a first-come basis. Registrations are now being taken online.

Notwithstanding the double meaning of “chafe” for such an ambitious ride, CHaFE stands for “Cycle Hard For Education.” The event is being staged by the Sandpoint-based Panhandle Alliance for Education. All money raised by the ride is earmarked for a new program to support early childhood literacy, with the goal of providing young kids a successful start in school – and in life.

Though the distance is challenging, the stunning CHaFE route poses no major uphill climbs or mountain passes as it winds on smooth pavement through lake and river valleys in the frontal ranges of the northern Rocky Mountains.

The route starts in Sandpoint and heads east along the picturesque northern shore of Lake Pend Oreille and into Montana. Riders then head north through the scenic Bull River Valley at the base of the rugged Cabinet Mountains, then west following the glacial-green Kootenai River to Bonners Ferry, and finally south back to Sandpoint.

Organizers are gearing up to provide an event that will match the quality of the route and the scenery. “Our goal is to support riders in the fashion to which they would like to become accustomed and to cater to their every need,” says CHaFE chair Brad Williams, himself an avid cyclist. “Our start/finish area has great parking, change areas and showers, and we are aiming for the best food you’ve ever had on a ride.”

The Friday registration reception will include hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine, and at the finish there will be entertainment, beer and snacks. The $120 registration fee includes dinner at one of several fine restaurants in Sandpoint. The ride will conclude with music, beverages and snacks at the start/finish staging area on the Coldwater Creek campus.

All proceeds will go to an early childhood literacy program for families in the Lake Pend Oreille School District of northern Idaho. In 2006 over 44 percent of entering kindergartners in Lake Pend Oreille schools were below proficiency for their age group. Research shows that children who begin kindergarten behind in reading skills and math stay behind throughout their public schooling, yet the state of Idaho provides no funding for early childhood education.

CHaFE will fund a program called Ready! For Kindergarten to provide families with knowledge and educational materials to prepare their young children for school at a cost of $240 per family – compared to the $8,000 per child per year cost of special education once children are enrolled in school.

Lewis added that you don’t have to be a rider to support the cause. Anyone who would like to donate to the early childhood literacy project or to volunteer with the ride can call or e-mail. Contact Lewis at 208-290-7148 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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