Bridge the Gap

I had the opportunity to attend the 2021 Bike Summit, held via Zoom, in late February/early March. Doug Myers and Corey Eng also attended on behalf of the club. I was only able to log in on Sunday, February 28, because the other sessions were held during the week, and I work.

My takeaway from the sessions I was able to view was inspiration to develop a new ride series for true novice cyclists. Our current starter rides are (and I hope using present tense is accurate – that when we can offer rides Chuck and Bud will be back!):

  • Chuck Dorr’s “Slowpoke Ride” which tends to be about 20 miles long and 10-12 mph;
  • my “Meet Portland Bicycling Club or Back in the Saddle Again” rides which are similarly about 20 miles but billed as a leisurely pace at 12-15 mph; and
  • Bud’s rides, another bump up, are often 25 to 30 miles or slightly more and 14-16 mph.

These rides are great, and I know many of you, myself…  ✎  included, rely on these rides and ride leaders to provide us with what we need: a fun route, a good coffee stop, some exercise, a little fun and socialization (I’m reminiscing here about pre-Covid times).

But what about all of the new cyclists? I keep hearing that bike sales are at a record high during this pandemic. E-bikes continue to gain popularity. Surely at least some percentage of these riders could use what a bike club has to offer. As I often told folks at Sunday Parkways when I worked our club’s booth: “What we have to offer is RIDES!”

When you are brand new to riding a bicycle, 20 miles is a very long distance. I came to believe we need to offer something more like 8 to 10 miles – welcoming, inclusive, fun. You get the picture. The gentleman from Redlands, California, who really got my attention has a slogan of “Fun, Fitness, Fellowship.” He does have a religious element to his rides, but I embraced his idea of celebrating PEOPLE.

There would be a definite safety focus in our novice rides. All ride leaders should be providing at least a cursory safety spiel, but these will require more. Ride leaders will be catering to these new cyclists, not striving to get in a workout of their own.

I mentioned this notion at the March 4 club meeting and have a few volunteers to help us get started – once we can offer rides to non-members again and ride in more of a group. We are thinking at least two ride leaders for each ride, and probably we would offer them every other week between April or May and early October. We will take turns so the tasks are shared.

There are other aspects to consider for this series, but these form the basis. Please feel free to e-mail me, [email protected], if you have ideas or have had experiences, negative or positive, with beginner rides such as these.

Ann Morrow, Vice President