I unzipped my tent, crawled out in the middle of a prickly field on Whidbey Island and rubbed the grog out of my eyes. The sun was just starting to think about peeking out. I couldn’t believe this whole roving camp of a couple hundred people was going to wake up THIS early to bike to the Port Townsend ferry en route to Port Angeles, the second day of 2014’s Ride Around Washington.
But one guy wasn’t even slightly groggy. Peter Verbrugge finished giving instructions to some of my fellow volunteers and walked excitedly over to us.
“You won’t believe who called me in the middle of the night,” he said, his eyes wide as though it weren’t zero a.m. or whatever time it was. “Jay Inslee. He said he’s thinking about joining us on the ride today. Isn’t that great?”
It’s true, Governor Inslee joined the ride into Port Angeles, where he then named Peter Washingtonian of the Day. Beer flowed shortly after.
Peter’s the kind of guy who calls shots all day to make big, complicated events happen, but his last order of the day almost always involves some kind of party. His bombastic presence has been hard to miss at the growing list of Cascade Bicycle Club events he organized over the past 11 years, so it’s gonna be a big change as he leaves the club to organize Cycle the Wave and other projects.
Stacey Nakagawa will change roles at Cascade to fill his role, and the club is currently accepting applications for Nakagawa’s old position as Events and Sponsorship Coordinator. She joins Rebecca Sorensen as the club’s Events Producers. Dave Douglass, longtime producer of big events like RSVP and STP, recently moved up to be Recreational Riding Director.
More details, from Cascade:
After 11 years of service to Cascade Bicycle Club, event producer Peter Verbrugge announced last week that he is starting a new chapter in his life, and has accepted a new position elsewhere.
Peter will be stepping into the new role of Event Director at the WAVE Foundation, which produces “Cycle The Wave,” an Eastside-based all-women bike ride aimed at raising awareness of domestic violence and raising funds for domestic violence programs.
“I am excited about the new challenges ahead in my new role, but I do also hope to continue be a part of the Cascade events team as a part-time event manager/support person in the coming season,” commented Peter.
Known all across the region for his party-planning skills, Peter started his 11-year career at Cascade as a contractor to run Bike to Work Day and the Commute Challenge, which at the time had only 400 participants who would fax or mail in their weekly commute miles.
Today, Bike Month and the Cascade Commute Challenge have grown into one of the biggest programs in the country with well over 10,000 participants, an online tracking system and an event-filled calendar.
Unsurprisingly, Peter’s role quickly evolved into a full-time Event Producer position. Peter went on to lead the Ride Around Washington tour for 11 years, produce the Seattle Bike Expo for a decade and bring innovative programming ideas to Cascade such as Cyclefest, the Seattle Bike-N-Brews rides and international tours.
His events, too many to name, have brought many cycling greats to Seattle, including Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwin, Bob Roll, Tyler Farrar, Frankie Andreu, Chris Carmicheal, Davis Phinney, and Sean Kelly.
Peter’s work didn’t go unnoticed, of course, and in 2014 Peter even caught the attention of Washington Governor Jay Inslee who presented him with “The Washingtonian of the day award,” recognizing Peter and the Ride Around Washington for making Washington a better place to live and visit.
“Peter Verbrugge is all that is wonderful about Cascade: brave, effective, creative and a great bike rider. We will miss him immensely and can’t wait to see all of the successes he will have at Cycle the WAVE,” said Elizabeth Kiker, Cascade’s Executive Director.
Peter’s last day will be January 16th.
“The WAVE Foundation is thrilled to be bringing Peter Verbrugge on. With his passion and enthusiasm, Cycle the WAVE will continue to grow and positively bring further awareness to the domestic violence issues in our community and beyond. His long standing relationship with Cascade, will bring collaboration between our organizations to get more women feeling the joy of riding,” said Sharon, President and Board Chair of the WAVE Foundation.
Before his departure, staff and volunteers will get to say goodbye with a big party, which of course no one can plan better than Peter himself.
“I want to thank everyone at Cascade, volunteers, staff and supporters alike, for the wonderful kindness and support I have received over the years and the many friendships I have made,” said Peter. “I am sure we won’t be strangers and I’ll always wear my Cascade colors proudly!”
Cascade Events & Sponsorship Coordinator Stacey Nakagawa will step into Peter’s role, and Cascade will be looking to fill her position soon.