You don’t have to be a member of a cycling club to enjoy this outdoor activity.
But it certainly helps, in particular, those who are new to the sport of riding or new to the area.
Not only do you learn the rules and etiquettes of riding – included are hand signals, voice commands, pointing rough patches, and following the same rules of the road that apply to motorist – but you also meet some good people along the way while enjoying some fun and even challenging routes in and out of the area.
Let’s not forget that cycling is a healthy alternative.
In the 209, there are a few such groups made up the riding enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels.
The Stockton Bike Club, the Stanislaus County Bicycle Club (Modesto), and the Central Valley Velo (Tracy) come to mind.
“The hardest part is finding cycling partners,” said Josie Malik, a retired psychologist for Lincoln Unified.
She belongs to the Stockton Bike Club, where she finds comfort in a group that “doesn’t think I’m crazy for thinking a short ride is 30 miles,” Malik added.
I’ve cycled with her and others from the local cycling clubs in the past three years. That’s how long I’ve been active in the sport.
Thanks to social media and the Internet, I’ve managed to stay connected on upcoming rides despite not being affiliated with the aforementioned bike clubs.
Greg Lozaga, who belongs to an assortment of bike clubs and 360 groups – by that, they do 360 miles in six days – organized the Napa Valley Social Ride. Included were 70 riders from close to a dozen bike clubs, following a 50-mile wine country loop along the Silverado Trail and Lake Hennessey – the only real ascents on the route – beginning and ending in the town of Napa.
I reference this particular riding event, in part, because some noteworthy people in the cycling community were involved.
Take Nikki Grimes of Groveland, for starters.
Jason White, Lisa Perez and I were among those who rode with her through parts of the route. She’s also the owner of Grimes Getaway Bicycle Tours in Groveland. Grimes organizes multi-day rides that include Yosemite National Park and the North Coast (click on to www.GrimesGetaways.com for more information).
Another notable was Shelley Marenka.
She’s a certified USA Cycling Coach and founder of Get on Your MARK, an outdoor fitness and endurance training company dedicated to improving the performance of recreational and competitive athletes (see: www.getonyourmark.com).
Meanwhile, Jason and Lisa joined the Stockton Bike Club about a year ago. They’re part of a group that does a fair share of flat rides throughout San Joaquin County but will also take on hillier or more challenging rides in the neighboring counties – Amador, Calaveras, Stanislaus, Alameda and San Mateo.
Rides are scheduled Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays (see: www.stocktonbikeclub.org).
Speaking of holidays, a small group from the various clubs will usually meet at the Dublin BART station for a social ride into San Francisco, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and into Marin County, returning to SF aboard the Larkspur Ferry on Presidents Day, Memorial Day and sometimes Labor Day.
Tracey Green is another regular of many social rides. She’s also a member of the Stanislaus County Bike Club, which promotes recreational bicycling safety, touring, tandem riding, racing and commuting (see: www.stancobike.org).
She enjoys the camaraderie.
The Central Valley Velo led by John Silva of Silva’s Bicycle Service in Tracy (see: www.silvasbicycleservice.com) came out in droves for the recent Napa ride. Members also come from Lathrop, Manteca and Livermore Valley, with the Velo welcoming both casual and avid riders along routes that utilize the nearby Altamont Hills (see: www.valleyvelo.org).
As for me, I’m already looking forward to the next big ride. The Napa Valley Social Ride for 2013 is already in the planning stages.
— VINCE REMBULAT
209 staff reporter