July 19, 2023

Steph Nitsch

Northwest Tune-Up Festival Recap and Cascadia Dirt Cup Enduro Results

Bellingham, WA’s second annual bike and music festival brings the community together in celebration of outdoor culture and recreation.

Over 5,500 people gathered in Bellingham’s Downtown Waterfront district this past weekend, July 14–16, to ride bikes, dance to music and celebrate a shared connection to Pacific Northwest culture during the second annual Northwest Tune-Up festival.

The bike and music festival unofficially began on Thursday, July 13, during the Freehub PRESENTS Film Festival at the Mount Baker Theatre, where 10 independent cycling films screened in front of over 800 spectators, leaving the audience with anticipation for the weekend ahead.

When the three-day festival began on Friday, July 14, attendees were welcomed with non-stop fun: bike demos, bike races and games, bike clinics, bike shuttles, dozens of local artists, 25 breweries and 24 talented bands from around the world.

A new and improved experience

Festivalgoers saw a whole new experience for 2023—a result of festival organizers listening to community and exhibitor feedback after the inaugural 2022 festival. The Exhibitor Village, Bellingham Makers Market, Portal Container Market, Kulshan Trackside Brewery and a handful of events—including the Zero Gravity Bike Show and Airbag Jump Session—were part of a new free public zone that invited non-ticketholders to be a part of the festival energy. Updates to the festival layout, amenities, hours and more flexible ticket options also contributed to an improved community experience for paid attendees.

“It was a night and day difference from last year,” shared Northwest Tune-Up co-founder Brandon Watts, who has been committed to ensuring that community is at the heart of the festival. “People were good about sharing their feedback from last year. We listened to what they had to say and executed on a lot of their great feedback. We even took real time feedback into account during this year's festival, after the first day, shifting the festival grounds each morning based on what we heard from exhibitors and attendees.”

A community-forward festival with a cause

From its inception, partnerships have been integral to the Northwest Tune-Up. Support from the City of Bellingham, the Port of Bellingham, local businesses and countless bike brands have provided a path forward for festival growth. Equally as important is the festival’s commitment to non-profit organizations and community heritage that has contributed to the festival’s distinct energy.

“Giving back to Bellingham has always been the intention of this festival—to create more outdoor infrastructure and provide funding for programs that are important to us,” said Northwest Tune-Up co-founder Eric Brown.

The West Shore Canone Family from the Lummi Nation opened the festival on Friday afternoon with a powerful, three-song ceremony that created a powerful connection among visitors and the land.

For a second year, Recreation Northwest, Whatcom Rowing Association and Shifting Gears received profits generated from the festival’s bike valet parking. And the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coaltion (WMBC), which managed the festival’s beer garden, generated nearly $100,000 in beer sales that will fund future WMBC initiatives.

“WMBC will use those funds for trail development,” said Brown, who is also the Executive Director of the WMBC. “We’ll put it towards the new trails we’re working on at Galbraith; new trail planning with the Department of Natural Resources at Olsen Creek on Stewart Mountain; and infrastructure and programs that get people outside and on bikes, like the Lummi Nation Bike Park development. 

Cascadia Dirt Cup Enduro Race results

A bonus round of the Cascadia Dirt Cup enduro mountain bike series was held in conjunction with the Northwest Tune-Up, adding an element of competition to an otherwise friendly and welcoming weekend for all skills and levels of cyclists. A handful of trails at Galbraith Mountain closed to the public on Saturday and Sunday, letting racers push their limits on fast, dusty and hard-packed trails.

Local riders Jill Kintner and John Richardson claimed the fastest race times in the Pro Women and Pro Men categories, respectively. Full race results can be found at

Igniting the cycling industry

Over the past decade, Bellingham has become a hotbed for hundreds of cycling and outdoor-adjacent businesses that crave a quality of life that matches their business aspirations. For them, the Northwest Tune-Up was a chance to collectively position Bellingham as an ideal location for outdoor businesses, as much as a destination for world-class riding.

Hailey Starr, owner of Wanderingly Creations, makes enamel jewelry inspired by outdoor adventures, and was one of 50 artists attending the Bellingham Makers Market. “I’m a mountain biker, so I really enjoyed creating bike themed art and going through the bike vendor booths while talking to fellow mountain bikers,” she shared of her experience.

Over 50 bike brands set up shop in the Exhibitor Village to let attendees demo bikes, discover new gear or shop for products. For cycling brands headquartered outside Bellingham, the festival was a modern way to connect with new audiences and cycling fans.

“Tune-Up is the most relevant cycle-centric festival that’s happening in the U.S. right now,” said, Allan Cooke, Senior Marketing & PR Manager at Specialized Bicycles, one of Tune-Up’s title sponsors. “A lot of historical [bike] festivals have not kept up with the way that people ride bikes. We want to ride our bikes and have fun at the same time. I come here and I know I have world-class riding at my finger tips the entire time. Everything’s on point. The riding, the music, the people, the atmosphere, the beer garden…it hits all the buttons.”

Planning for the 2024 Northwest Tune-Up will begin later this summer.

About Northwest Tune-Up

Northwest Tune-Up is a community-forward bike, beer and music festival in Bellingham, Washington that is dedicated to improving cycling access, fostering recreational development and preserving Pacific Northwest heritage. Nestled in the northwest corner of the state, Bellingham has grown into a cycling mainstay of the West Coast. Well-known for its access to the Cascade Mountains and San Juan Islands, the region has flourished with year-round trail and recreational opportunities and is surrounded by an active cycling community on the forefront of craft brewing, music and art. For more festival information, visit

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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