Sunday, June 30, 2013

Attempt #3 - Third Time's the Charm

I'm a bit late on this one, but a few months back I achieved a goal I had set for 2013 by taking part in my first group ride. In previous posts, I had written about my first and second attempts at group riding. As a long-time bike rider, yet novice group rider, I was the first to admit that the idea of riding with a slick, experienced, spandex-sporting crowd sounded intimidating.

One mid-spring Saturday morning a friend and I met up as planned. He was looking for someone to ride with to show him some new routes, and I was looking for someone to introduce me to the culture of group riding. He was up for the teaching opportunity and I was looking forward to showing off the rolling hills of the Upstate. It was the perfect match.

We took off to the Clemson Experimental Forest Fant's Grove area. The ride was pretty solid beginning ride - a few hills, beautiful scenery, little traffic to compete with and beautiful weather. If you haven't had the opportunity to ride in the area, I'd highly recommend it.

The 20 mile journey was a great time to learn the basics of group riding. Here's a few of the things I learned.
  • The lead rider is responsible for guiding the group, setting the pace and can ultimately set the tone for the ride. A good leader can make (or break) the ride.
  • On some rides, the last rider hangs back at the end of the pack, making sure no one gets left behind.
  • Pass on what's pointed out. Potholes, stormwater grates, debris and other things that should be avoided should be pointed out as you pass it by. Pointing it out allows other riders behind you to "see" it.
  • Hand signals are the most effective way to communicate when the wind is whizzing by your ears at 20 mph.
  • Ask the group if there are common key words or phrases that the group uses. For example, the phrase "car back" is used to let other riders know that a car is approaching.
  • Things to bring. It's always handy to have a snack, water, cell phone and extra tube and/or pump with you. Like a boy scout, it's always good to be prepared.
Things are just some of the things I learned, and the best thing was riding can be a lot of fun with the right group. I'm thankful that my first ride was with someone willing to show me the ropes. It wasn't as intimidating as I thought, and I'm looking forward to the next ride. With these few tips, maybe you'll consider a group ride, too.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When I ride a bike...

....I am having fun.

...I am doing my part to be a bit gentler on the environment.

...I am making it easier for you to drive to work. One less car on the road contributes to keeping the traffic down. If everyone who could rode their bike one or two days a week, just imagine the impact.

...I am taking up one less parking space at work, making way for someone who is unable to ride. (I work for an employer that has a limited number of parking spaces on their campus. Every parking space is accounted for, costs approximately $3,000 dollars to build/maintain and is strictly enforced by a permitting/ticketing program.)

...I am making a personal choice to take part in living a healthy lifestyle. Riding my bike 25 minutes twice a day helps to keep my heart happy, my blood pressure down, my muscles moving and my mind at ease.

...I have a reason to be okay with eating that donut, banana bread muffin or cookie that a co-worker brought in to celebrate. (As a former collegiate athlete with a sweet-tooth, I appreciate the ability to enjoy the "sweet things" in life without having to count every calorie.)

...I am part of a larger (national and international) community of bike riders who have a strong sense of connection, camaraderie and empowerment.

...I am doing something positive, active and engaging that contributes to a larger positive impact on my community.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Upstate News Update

Every so often I take some time on this blog to report local bicycle-related news. It's important to follow developing stories to help folks understand what's going on in their communities and to know of potential new places to ride. The last time we checked in with what's going on in the Upstate, the City of Rock Hill had just been designated a Bicycle Friendly City, Greenville's Bicycle Share program had just been announced, the PELCOR initiative between the cities of Pickens, Easley and Liberty continued to move forward and reviewing the potential for the development of a trail along the local abandoned Doodle Line railway was underway. Here's been an update on a few things since then:

Doodle Line Trail. Earlier this week it was announced that the cities of Easley and Pickens both approved the purchase of the all-but-abandoned railroad line. The purchase been followed closely in the local news. Some folks have come out in opposition, but a majority of the public sees the development of the trail between the two communities to be boon for recreation activities, health and wellness and community and economic development. Many people see it as an opportunity to create a local version of the Swamp Rabbit Trail.

Easley Bike Plan:  Bushy Creek Greenway. The City of Easley continues to implement pieces of their 2010 Bike Master Plan. The City is moving forward with the development of the first phase of the Bushy Creek Greenway, a trail that will connect downtown with the J.B. "Red" Owen Recreation Complex. Folks will be invited to walk, run or bike on the local trail. Over time and as finances come available, pieces of the plan will be developed.

Greenville Bike Share.  The Greenville B-cycle bike sharing program is up and running! If you are headed to downtown for a night out on the town, errand running or holiday touring, be sure to check out the area on one of these bikes. It's a new, fun way to get around downtown. In other related news, the Greenville News did an article highlighting a few folks who bike to work. It was a nice piece that showed how regular folks ride their bike to get around.

Clemson University Bike Friendly University. Clemson University was designated the award of being a Bicycle Friendly University at the Bronze Level. Less than a year after the Master Bike Plan was adopted, Clemson joined only 57 other Universities to earn the award (at any level). As Clemson joins USC, it's great to see the state's leading institutions of higher education take charge in leading the way to creating bicycle-friendly places in the state and in the southeast.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Just Get On A Bike

An article in the Wall Street Journal (of all places!) that's a simple explanation to those who are trying to understanding, decide and figure out what the fuss about all this biking is about:  Just get on a bike.