I learned to ride a bike when I was very young but growing up in a small town in an era when cars were boss, my love of cycling, ironically, didn’t take off until I moved to the Big City. It was more a need for an inexpensive social activity than a desire to become more physically fit that lead me to get serious about cycling in New York City.
I owned a bicycle as a young mother raising my family in upstate New York. When my babies were little I took them on rides with me around the “block”; which was about 2 and a half miles around a couple of apple orchards in Lafayette, New York. I had a back pack baby carrier with an aluminum frame that I set my baby in and then hoisted onto my back and off we went. I acquired a child seat for the bike for the 18 month old when my second baby came along. Unfortunately, this only lasted while my babies were little and I was on maternity leave because when I went back to work I was a suburban car driving Mom again.
Twenty five years later, faced with a new job, relocation to New York City and suddenly single life; bicycling became a much more critical component to my extracurricular activities. First of all, my housing cost increased substantially, so my recreational budget had to take a hit. I already had a bike, so that enticed me to try the Five Borough Bike Tour in May 1998. I didn’t know a soul in the city so when I reached the finish line in Staten Island and found the “Friendliest” Bike Club in the city looking for members I signed up!
It’s been one of the best decisions of my life. I became a leader in 2003, served on the club’s board for several years, as Program Coordinator and President. Not only have I found a circle of friends who I enjoy riding with and spending time with, I have discovered parts of this city I would never have found on my own. It was actually the best way to learn my way around as a new resident.
My preferred style of riding is relaxed; what we classify as a “happy face” pace of 8-10 mph. I’m not a big fan of hills, but as one friend pointed out to me in the beginning, “every hill makes you stronger” and another good piece of advice is they always look worse before you get to them.
Besides doing day rides around the city, I look forward to getting away on weekend and week-long cycling adventures. In fact, one of the main reasons I became a leader in the club was to lead weekend trips and for several years I was racking up 2-3 a year; to Cape Cod, Covered Bridges in Pennsylvania, and Wine Country of Long Island. Just recently I helped co-lead a revived weekend trip to Montreal and newly created weekend trip to Washington D.C.
These weekend trips gave me the motivation to tackle a couple major longer bicycle events that have taken me across and out of New York State, such as the NYS Parks Department Cycling the Erie Canal, RAGBRAI (Ride Across Iowa), the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Tour in PA, and a two week, self-contained cycling tour in France from Paris to Nice with a small group of friends from the bike club. Most of these accomplishments have taken place during the past decade while in my sixties and now that I’m in my 70’s I look forward to many more cycling adventures.
The friends I have made in this club is why I ride, the truth be told. I have found a family in this city and I have grieved when a family member is lost. I am proud to be a member of a club that supports high safety standards for cycling and sharing that responsibility for modeling good behavior when I ride.