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Originally published May 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 13, 2008 at 10:45 AM

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For Marty Dopps, pedalling 27 miles to work is a great way to get pumped for the day ahead

Hey drivers, give some extra shoulder space to Marty Dopps — and others — participating in Bike to Work Month. First, Dopps is riding...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Bike to Work Month

Here are some of this month's bicycle events:

• Starbucks Bike to Workday, Friday. Forty-two area commute stations open from 6 to 9 a.m.

• Bike to Workday Rally, 7:30-8:30 a.m. Friday, Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Ave., Seattle

• Downtown Lunch-Hour Bike Commute Seminar, noon-1 p.m. May 21, Unico building conference room, 1333 Fifth Ave., Seattle

• UW Hubbub, 4-7 p.m. May 29, music and fun on the Burke-Gilman Trail between Brooklyn Avenue and University Way

For a complete schedule, see www.cbcef.org/btw/btwschedule.html

Get ski and boarding conditions all winter long with webcams, snow alerts and more at seattletimes.com/snowsports

Hey drivers, give some extra shoulder space to Marty Dopps — and others — participating in Bike to Work Month.

First, Dopps is riding his bicycle on the daily 54-mile round-trip from his home in Federal Way to his office in South Lake Union. Second, he's shown a bit of courage by hopping right back aboard despite crashing and breaking an arm during last May's event.

And most relatable, he does it not because he's a bicycle zealot but to help ease congestion, do his small part to ease the carbon-dioxide cloud and stay in shape.

"I'm more of a runner," says Dopps, 51, associate director of finance for Group Health Cooperative. "It's kind of nice cross-training. By the time I shower at the office, get dressed and sit down at my desk in the morning, I am really mellow. And it would take a lot to get me worked up."

Dopps is participating in the Group Health Commute Challenge, a monthlong competition among area companies to see whose workers can amass the most bicycle miles to work and back. Employees arrange themselves into teams of up to 10 and record total miles during their normal daily commutes. The event continues to grow.

In 2004, it attracted 719 teams and 3,303 riders. Those numbers climbed to 1,238 teams and 7,523 riders last year. REI had 362 riders in 2007. The University of Washington had 294. The city of Seattle had 258 and Group Health had 248.

Through May 8, more than 8,200 people on 1,200 teams had joined the challenge. Organizers estimate that during that first week of May, riders had amassed more than 200,000 miles, burned 6.8 million calories and saved 208,000 pounds of CO2.

This year, Dopps is part of Group Health's "hard-core" team, "Squadra Ophidian," which rode a total of 8,169 miles during the monthlong commute in 2007. One of its members, Bertus de Wet, rode 1,524 miles.

Dopps first rode his bike to work in the summer of 2006 as a way to train for the Seattle-to-Portland bicycle event. He admits to having some trepidation before he took his maiden voyage to work.

"Twenty-seven miles each way, going through downtown Seattle ... how am I going to get there, some of the back roads in South King County and through Sodo are not very bike friendly," he says. "I've been in good shape my whole life so I didn't think 90 minutes on a bicycle would be that hard, but I wondered how spending that 90 minutes in the morning in traffic would make me feel."

He was commuting home last May when he hit a curb in Pioneer Square and went sprawling. He made it home, but learned the next day that he had fractured his left arm. Three months later, he climbed back on his bicycle.

He leaves for work at about 5:30 a.m. and follows the Green River Trail through Fort Dent, parallels Interstate 5 on Interurban Avenue, eventually connects with East Marginal Way or Airport Way, wends his way through Pioneer Square and takes Broad Street to connect with Westlake Avenue, where GHC is headquartered.

It takes 90 minutes each way, but heading home is harder, he says. He thinks that's because he often has to deal with afternoon winds kicking up from the south but admits work might take a little of his energy, too.

Dopps has had only one scary encounter: A semi briefly pinned him and a friend against a rail. Mostly, though, he says bicycling is an enthralling way to wake up and unwind. In fact, he often commutes with a friend or sometimes part way with his wife, Debi, who works at Boeing, and also rides back and forth with her co-workers.

And on those days he doesn't bicycle?

"Metro!"

Richard Seven: 206-464-2241 or rseven@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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