Pedal-powered poker play plays out on the Key


Steve Whitford

The Key Pen Parks along with a long list of sponsors held a poker run for off-road bicycles at 360 Trails this April 4. Shown here discussing the race is Cortland Capwell (left) who, along with Shawn Bornhoeft, are the principals of the 360 Trails group overseeing the trail creation and maintenance. Photo by Ed Johnson, KP News

On Saturday, April 4, 360 Trails held its first-ever mountain bike poker run.

Some 140 riders forked out $20 a piece to participate in the sunny 6.8-mile run that flowed through the 360 Trails’ new bike park and through parts of adjacent Gateway Park located near Lake Kathryn.

The land for the bike park was originally leased from the Department of Natural Resources in 2010 for a period of 55 years.

Since then, local enthusiast Courtland Capwell has been busy volunteering his time making bike trails, ably assisted by Shawn Bornhoeft.

The trails are usually open to mountain bikes, hikers and equestrians so all trails are one way in order to avoid collisions.

The poker run was officiated by Key Peninsula Parks Director Scott Gallacher and Christina Hallock, marketing coordinator and recreational specialist. Administrative assistant Karen Armstrong assisted Hallock, checking in the riders.

The first group of cyclists started at 9:30 a.m., and the rest left in spaced intervals to avoid crowding.

Riders followed a mapped route that included passing several checkpoints. At each checkpoint, riders would draw a ping pong ball from a large bucket. Each ball in the bucket had a different playing card written on it. After completing the entire course, riders would have five cards to make a poker hand out of. Bikers seeking more of a challenge could repeat the entire course, riding 13.6 miles and gaining a sixth card. Some hardcore competitors made a third trip around the course, completing a whopping 20.4 miles and receiving seven cards. All poker hands would be made out of their best five cards.

Aside from a bike, the only required equipment was a bike helmet, although eye protection was highly recommended. Most riders however were sporting full riding regalia. This included team shirts, riding pants and special shoes that clip into the bike pedals. Some riders wore a hydration backpack complete with a tube that allowed them to sip while riding. In addition some carried first-aid kits, bike tools and high-energy foods.

“I usually just bring a peanut butter sandwich,” Capwell said.

Checkpoints four, six and seven were manned by Chad Gorman and Doug Rhodes, courtesy of Silverdale Cyclery. Beside the checkpoint was Kathy Anderson, courtesy of Iron Horse Brewery, who helped keep riders hydrated.

At the end of the run participants enjoyed a hotdog lunch and prizes were awarded.

Three lucky riders had winning hands of four of a kind. Two chose identical passes to Stevens Pass Bike Park and Lift. The third chose a growler donated by the Iron Horse Brewery.

Sponsors for the event included Silverdale Cyclery, The Hub of Gig Harbor, Haggen Foods, Iron Horse Brewery, Giant Bicycles, Tacoma Bike, Horseshoe Lake Golf, Grant Spangle Physical Therapy, Key Pen Parks and Stevens Pass Bike Park.

“The event was a great success, taking in $2,500 for future improvements to 360 Trails,” Gallacher said.“We hope to do it again next year.”

To find out more about this or future events, Key Pen Parks can be reached at (253) 884-9240 or online at