Let the Good Times Roll
A Bicycle Club for Fitness and Friendship
Started in 2011, the Ridgefield Bicycle Sport Club now has over 400 members, including 30 cyclists from Wilton.
Photos by Stan Godlewski
Now that never-ending winter 2018 is but a distant memory, our minds and bodies have started to migrate outside. Need proof? Check out the number of people engaged in outdoor activities, especially biking. Whether it’s weekend warriors going out for a few miles or hardcore riders who track rides with an app like Strava (for bikers and runners.) Most of them are looking for others to ride with. We’ve all seen the packs of cyclists passing by, some decked out in the latest performance clothing, others in whatever is comfortable.
Who rides bikes? Plenty of us. It’s estimated that about one in eight Americans cycle on a regular basis. The benefits of hitting the road (or trail) on two wheels are considerable. It’s a great cardio workout and helps build muscle strength; it’s easy on the joints and it decreases stress. Cycling is often a solo endeavor, but can also a social thing. For those living in Fairfield County, where does one find kindred spirits who want to ride?
The Ridgefield Bicycle Sport Club is an obvious choice. Founded in 2012 at Ridgefield Bicycle Company, its mission is to create a community of local athletes and promote cycling through fun, competition, advocacy, safety, education, and the enjoyment of cycling and multi-sport. A wildly eclectic bunch, the club attracts cyclists of all ages, from all walks of life. Some members come from as far away as Mt. Kisco and Goldens Bridge, New York.
According to Geoffrey Morris, one of the founders, the club includes over thirty Wilton residents so it’s likely you’ll find friends or neighbors who are members. The riding ability ranges from newbies to elite riders. Fairfield County is a cyclist’s paradise and there is every type of ride imaginable, ranging from steep ridges, mountain bike trails, and long, flat roads for those who prefer to avoid climbs and descents.
Of course, like any other gathering of like-minded people who pursue a sport, it’s not solely about the health benefits. There is also a spirit of camaraderie. Jacqui Dowd, president of the club, explains why it provides much more than a chance to exercise. “It’s the human aspect of our little group. It was originally launched so that riders could train with others of the same skill level but has turned into so much more. It’s become a community where long-term friendships have blossomed, a place that brings people with a common interest together. Add that to the social aspect, and it’s a unique place.
“The club provides a setting where members are inspired by others,” continues Dowd, “And it has become a part of the members’ lives, not just something they do in their spare time.”
The club’s ride calendar is chock full of outings, ranging from very demanding road rides all the way down to novice mountain bike adventures. Currently the club has about 400 members in season and continues to grow organically.
Long-time member, Wilton resident Tim LaBant, chef /owner of The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, can attest to the strong, local social ties that the club delivers. “A lot of the members are small-business owners like me, so Thursday rides always start from one of our businesses. It’s a great way to meet other business owners in the community, and an inspiring message to remind us to shop locally.”
The rides that LaBant is referring to are known as Thirsty Thursday. Cyclists of all levels leave the starting point at the same time, and end up at a local watering hole for post-ride socializing and refreshments. Needless to say, Thirsty Thursday rides have proved to be extremely popular.
In addition to the non-tangible benefits of the club, membership includes discounts on clothing and accessories at RBC, and partner-sponsored runs with Ridgefield Running Company, which includes a twice-weekly 5:45 a.m. workout at Ridgefield High School. For members who are aspiring triathaletes, there is also seasonal access to Great Pond at Martin Park Beach for swimming. Dowd sums it up nicely: “It’s all about the people!”