I am not a roadie and the rest of this column will focus mainly on mountain biking. There is nothing wrong with roadies, just not my thing.
Whether you are a mountain biker or roadie, group rides are coming back to the Tri-Cities. The weather is clearing, trails are draining and off-season maintenance is wrapping up. Schedules have been made and at least one first ride was canceled.
Bicycling has long been a social activity. Thinking back to youth, one can reminisce of a time tramping through town, jumping curbs and scarring grocery-filled hands. These times often occurred while laughing with friends wishing summer would never end.
If one is looking to relive a bit of those smile-inducing moments, check out a group ride. The Tri-Cities has many to offer. Many of the local bike shops and clubs host a variety of rides. There are offerings for female-only, co-ed, no-drop and performance group rides. Many are accompanied by a welcoming host of friends you haven’t met yet.
A social ride is a great way to be re-introduced to bicycles. If one is worried about not having been on a two-wheel pedal machine in over a decade, don’t. You are not alone. There are many adults out there that put away the pedals when a driver’s license was earned! That is why no-drop group rides are great.
The Southern Off Road Bicycle Association Tri-Cities host a weekly Thursday ride. The locations vary, so follow their Facebook for updates. The rides are usually near a local taproom or brew house. They are co-ed and no-drop rides. “No-drops” mean that if you are an introductory rider, you can meet people and learn some basics. One does not have to worry about being dropped lost in the woods.
One does not have to be 21 years old to enjoy this ride. Some of the beverages afterward in some cases may require one to be over 21, depending on where the ride is but all are welcome. The season opener due to be held at Warriors Path State Park in Kingsport was canceled.
Sherri Cole helps organize a host of “ladies only” rides at various locations. She has been an advocate for female riders in the region for years now. In past conversations, she has said that these rides help women realize there is a judgment-free space on trails where they can be themselves. It is a great way to get or stay in shape and build self-confidence that seeps into one’s daily life.
Cole heads Achieving Balance Cycling and continues to advocate for female riders. She, like others, feels that the cycling industry on a whole does not represent female riders enough. She can often be found on a trail with her husband, son Ryan, and/or her dog.
Many of the local bike shops host different rides too. Norris Bicycles hosted a Monday night road ride last year that should be returning. The Bicycle Shop host many road, gravel and other two-wheel themed events. They have been sponsors of trail-building days and other community events in the area.
Trek Bicycle Store, Johnson City, host too many events to list, but the two monthly group rides, Taco Trek and Bikin’ & Eggs, have “gone viral” so to speak. They are returning soon! The first Taco Trek is slated for April 2.
There have been shops around the world copy the success of the rides. Chad Wolfe, founder/operator of the Trek Bicycle Store, said a shop in Germany called asking questions to emulate one of his shop’s rides. The bicycle community is a sharing one on the whole.
The Tri-Cities Road Club has been hosting a myriad of group rides in the area for over 30 years. There are 100-mile group rides that one can join if they are so inclined. The shorter stuff is available too.
All of these organizations maintain an online presence, and more information can be found whether it be on social media or a website. Make sure to check out the different clubs and try different things. One may think they are a mountain biker, throw a leg over a skinny-tired beast and love it; who knows?