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Pedaling Purpose - The CHAFE 150 Gran Fondo rides into its 17th Year

Updated: Jun 11

Chafe 150
Photo By Jason Duchow

By Damen Rodriguez

In the quiet haven of Sandpoint, Idaho, a vibrant community tradition unfolds each year, weaving together the joys of cycling with the noble pursuit of education. Welcome to the CHAFE 150 GRAN FONDO, an annual event orchestrated by the Rotary Club of Sandpoint. Now in its 17th year, this beloved affair isn't just a bike ride; it's a movement, a testament to the power of collective action in support of local education initiatives. Summer has arrived and Sandpoint beckons those seeking a scenic and rewarding ride. "The CHAFE 150 is a Gran Fondo bike ride organized by the Rotary Club of Sandpoint. The 2024 ride is the 17th annual ride, and the mission of the ride over the years has been to support educational programs in our local school district," explains Mel Dick, the driving force behind the CHAFE 150. This encapsulates the essence of the event — an amalgamation of athleticism and altruism, pedaling towards a brighter future for the youth of Sandpoint. What sets the 2024 CHAFE 150 GRAN FONDO apart from its predecessors is its inclusivity. "The 2024 ride is unique in that there is a ride and a route for everyone," Mel emphasizes. From the signature 150- mile road ride to shorter distances like the 80, 40, and 25-mile road rides, as well as gravel routes spanning 55 and 75 miles, and even a four-mile family fun ride, the options abound. Embracing the majestic landscapes of northern Idaho and western Montana, these routes promise an immersive journey through some of the nation's most breathtaking scenery. It's no wonder the CHAFE 150 has earned its stripes as a top-ten scenic ride in the country, attracting cyclists far and wide seeking both challenge and beauty. Furthermore, the CHAFE 150 GRAN FONDO isn't just about cycling — it's about community and camaraderie. Riders of all ages and abilities come together, united by a shared passion for both cycling and supporting educational causes. The event isn't just a ride; it's an experience—a celebration of community spirit and philanthropy. Beyond the thrill of the ride lies a deeper purpose: giving back to the community. "Over the years, the ride has supported a pre-kindergarten learning program for parents and children and programs of our local school district for students on the autism spectrum, after-school reading and literary programs and currently supports the Book Trust program for K-3 students of the Lake Pend Oreille School District," Mel explains. From pre-kindergarten learning initiatives to support for students on the autism spectrum and after-school reading programs, the impact is tangible. This year, the focus shifts to the Book Trust program for K-3 students—a testament to the ride's evolving mission and its commitment to nurturing young minds. As the event continues to evolve, so too do its safety measures. "All activities are outdoors. Riders who travel via buses to the starting points of the 80-mile and gravel routes are asked to not participate if they are exhibiting any symptoms of illness," Mel points out. In light of ongoing public health concerns, organizers are leaving no stone unturned to ensure the well-being of participants and spectators. Moreover, large signs dot the highways, serving as a reminder to motorists to exercise caution and vigilance — a testament to the community's dedication to safety. Reflecting on the journey thus far, Mel Dick observes, "We have evolved from one route, our signature 150-mile road ride, to multiple distances and the increasing demand for gravel rides." Indeed, the CHAFE 150 has come a long way from its humble beginnings, growing from a modest gathering of 70 riders to a bustling event boasting over 400 participants. The rise of gravel rides and the embrace of e-bikes signal a promising future, opening doors to new horizons and welcoming riders of all stripes. Yet amidst the feats of athleticism and the thrill of the ride, it's the human stories that truly capture the spirit of the CHAFE 150. "Some of the best stories are watching riders finish the ride and witnessing the joy and sense of pride in their accomplishment," recalls Mel. From the jubilant scenes at the post-ride party to the triumphant finish lines crossed by riders young and old, each tale speaks volumes about the resilience of the human spirit and the power of community. In its steadfast commitment to promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, the CHAFE 150 stands as a beacon of hope in the community. "The CHAFE 150 plays a major part in our community health and active lifestyles," notes Mariah Williams, a key figure in the CHAFE 150 committee. Amidst the myriad outdoor events and activities that define Sandpoint's ethos, the ride holds a special place — a testament to the enduring spirit of adventure and the unyielding pursuit of excellence. "If an active outdoors lifestyle is your thing, Sandpoint is the place to be, and the CHAFE 150 is the ride for you!" Mariah exclaims. As the wheels of progress continue to turn and the CHAFE 150 charts its course towards the future, one thing remains certain: the journey is far from over. With each revolution of the pedals and each dollar raised for education, the community draws closer together, united in purpose and bound by a shared commitment to excellence. For in the grand tapestry of life, it's the collective efforts of ordinary individuals that pave the way for extraordinary change. And in Sandpoint, that change begins with a simple yet profound act: a ride for education. The economic impact of the CHAFE cannot be overstated. Not only does the ride contribute to the education of local youth, stimulating our local economy and strengthening our future workforce, but the event draws tourism. The CHAFE event draws hundreds of participants, along with their supporters or families, from across the region, nation and even internationally, leading to increased patronage for local businesses during the event weekend, particularly in hospitality and retail. In addition, the CHAFE serves as a showcase of Sandpoint’s beauty the spirit of our community promoting the community as a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts and tourists. This event is a labor of love for so many. The committee who organizes the ride spends hundreds of hours organizing year-round, and it takes over 100 community volunteers to pull the event off. The sponsors are absolutely invaluable to them. Additionally, the CHAFE 150 GRAN FONDO wouldn't be possible without the generous support of its sponsors. These businesses and organizations play a vital role in ensuring the success of the event, providing financial support, resources, and logistical assistance. Their contributions not only help cover the costs of organizing the ride but also enable the CHAFE 150 to maximize its fundraising efforts for local educational programs. From local businesses to national corporations, each sponsor plays a crucial part in the CHAFE 150's mission to make a difference in the community. Specifically, the organization extends their heartfelt gratitude to their Platinum sponsors: Litehouse Foods & Like-Media, their unwavering commitment to our cause has been instrumental in propelling the CHAFE 150 to new heights. Gold sponsors like Kochava, Ting, KPND Radio, Bonner County Daily Bee, Timberline Helicopters, Martin and Karen Quill along with Jordan and Sarah Hymowitz provide invaluable support, ensuring that every aspect of the event is meticulously planned and executed. Furthermore, the Silver sponsors, including but not limited to Trinity at City Beach, Winter Ridge, and Bonner General Health, exemplify the spirit of community engagement and corporate responsibility. Their generosity enables this event to continue their mission of supporting local educational initiatives, making a meaningful impact on the lives of children and families in our community. Along with, of course, the Bronze sponsors, whose contributions, no matter the size, play a vital role in the success of the CHAFE 150. Organizations like Matchwood Brewing Company, Schweitzer and Mountain West Bank demonstrate their commitment to philanthropy and community development through their support of our event. Finally, love and appreciation to all volunteers, and partners, whose dedication and hard work help make the CHAFE 150 GRAN FONDO a reality year after year. Together, they are making a difference in the lives of countless individuals and strengthening the fabric of our community.

The spirit of philanthropy runs deep in Sandpoint, and the CHAFE 150 GRAN FONDO is a shining example of the community coming together for a common cause. Year after year, cyclists and supporters alike join forces to pedal towards a brighter future, one mile at a time. As the wheels of progress continue to turn and the CHAFE 150 continues to evolve, the impact of this remarkable event will be felt for generations to come. Ready your wheels and prepare your soul for this splendorous, scenic cycle experience.

To learn more, become a volunteer or sponsor, or register to participate, visit

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