You don't have to ride a bike ... or even own one ... to belong to a bike club because there are other reasons to join a bike club ... any bike club ... than the obvious benefits of finding other people to ride with and going on scheduled group rides. But if you do own a bicycle already and need some reasons for joining a bike club here are a few ....
- It's fun ... balancing on two wheels appeals to the Big Kid in all of us and keeps us feeling young as we explore new areas, feel the 'rush' of a thrilling downhill and learn where to find the best roads for biking, and share the experience with other people who also like biking.
- Family ... bicycling is an activity the whole family can enjoy together or individually.
- Safety in numbers ... if you have a problem it helps to have people along who know how to keep safe while riding ... “car up”, “car back”, “gravel”, “dog” . And, of course, drivers are more likely to see a group of riders than a single bike rider and will use more caution (hopefully) in passing a group of riders.
- Social ... getting on a bicycle and away from the insulation of an automobile provides endless opportunities to meet and talk to other people. And belonging to a bike club ensures that you will meet more people in a social atmosphere. HBC even offers special rides to promote this activity ... we call it “Learning to Linger” and these rides are generally 20-30 miles total at a more leisurely pace (10-11mph average) and stop more often to see things and, well, talk. There are also social-type of bike rides scheduled each Saturday and Sunday during the cycling season.
- It's inexpensive ... $15 a year for an individual; $20 Family AND with membership you will receive 10% off products at participating bike shops ... buy a few items and it quickly pays for itself!
- Healthy lifestyle ... “Move it or Lose it” is a common sense approach to staying active. Maybe “Move it and Lose it” is a better way to put it because biking activity can lead to losing a few of those extra pounds most people put on as they age. You'll find knowledgeable people in most bike clubs, people who know about good nutrition and exercise who will be happy to share this knowledge. See www.livestrong.org for more ideas on following a healthy lifestyle.
- Good exercise and Bicycling can be done life-long ... biking is one of the best, if not the best, exercises and is recommended by doctors to patients as a good way to maintain good health and lose weight because it is much less impact resistant than activities like running and weight lifting. A lot of people take up biking when the knees give out from impact exercise like running. I don't know of anyone who moves from biking to something like running for exercise and health.
- Bike advocacy ... support for bicycle things like bike trails, “Share the Road”, promoting bicycling as a sport, touring, racing, commuter vehicle and passing safe cycling legislation like the new “4-foot” law in 2012.
- Civic-minded support ... road cleanups, lobbying of elected representatives ... raise money for charitable causes (Tour de Cure, MS, PA State Police Ride)
- Organized and scheduled bike rides ... Offers bike rides with a Ride Leader knowledgeable of the area who will plan a ride and provide direction for riders of varying abilities ... Social, D, C, B, A and “Learning to Linger”. All free. Get some exercise, get out in the fresh air and see some of our local community 'up close and personal'.
- Side benefits ... knowledge of all things related to biking ... local rides, bike events sponsored by the club, skilled people in our club willing to share their knowledge, The Spokesman (monthly newsletter), roadside id ...
- Bike shop discounts ... generally 10 percent off the retail cost for bike equipment
- Bike Maintenance Clinic ... HBC offers an annual series of clinics in January (when going outside and biking is not something that most of us consider to be fun) where you can learn how to take care of your machine to obtain maximum efficiency ... cleaning, changing tires, tube repair/replacement, chain & brake maintenance, pre-ride safety checklist.
- Web information and forums ... Contain a wealth of information about the club rides, skill levels, special events, forums and more. Forums are a communications tool members can use to talk and share ideas with other members about most any topic within reason.
- Find out about different types of bike riding ... road, touring, mountain, trail, racing and the different kinds of bikes available ... road, cross, commuter, folding, recumbent, unicycle ... and more.
- Find out about different types of bikes ... road, race, touring, tandem, recumbent, unicycle, E-Bikes. Someone in the club will have one or will know someone who does and can suggest where to find one if you're looking for a different type of bike.
- It's cheaper ... vs driving a car for the same purpose. Gets about 1500 miles per gallon ... and runs on water.
- Reduce your carbon footprint by biking. Fueled by water and gatorade and does not burn fossil fuels.
- Strike a blow against our dependence of foreign energy ... by using your energy. No government regulation is needed to implement.
- One less car ... on the road if you use your bike to get to where you're going instead of an automobile. A bicycle takes up less physical space than a car and the roads are already overcrowded with motorized vehicles.
- Biking in a group can make you a stronger rider ... pace control, hill climbing ... and the time passes quickly when you have someone with whom you can enjoy the ride.
Special Rides ... belonging to a bike club can inform you of the many different types of bike riding available locally, nationally, and globally ... one day, multiple day, rides for a purpose, etc. Some examples ... there are many more, follow ...Fall Tour ... www.harrisburgbicycleclub.org ... HBC sponsored group ride in September from Harrisburg to Cape May, NJ
● Covered Bridge Metric Century ... 30th year ... annual supported one-day bike ride in August.
● Civil War Century ... one-day supported ride of 25, 50, 62, or 105 miles around Civil War battlefields
● Three Creek Century ... HBC's annual one-day ride of varying lengths ... supported by the club and profits are donated 100% to local charitable activities
● RAGBRAI ... week of every July in its 37th year . 7 days of biking across the beautiful state of Iowa ... and limited to 10,000 riders
● Finger Lakes ... long weekend in June at Hobart-Smith College
- Rail Trails ... biking on the roads with motorized vehicles does not appeal to everyone and for good reason but you can enjoy bicycling in a “road less traveled” environment on one of the many rail trails in the Harrisburg area. And bike clubs offer scheduled group rides on rail trails too. Capital Area Greenbelt, Cumberland Valley Rail Trail, Heritage Rail Trail, Lebanon Valley Rail Trail, Conewago Rail Trail, C&O Canal, Great Allegheny, Maryland's Northern Central Railroad Trail and probably more are nearby.24. Commuting ... Riding a bicycle to work and for local trips to the store and doctor is another reason to ride a bicycle and it can be more enjoyable than spending endless minutes at traffic lights. Learn the best roads and routes for getting around your local area and staying off the busier roads.
- Ride Routes/Maps ... Web sites of most bike clubs have route directions and maps for their favorite rides.
- HBC Insurance ... HBC Scheduled Rides has supplemental insurance for all HBC members and first time riders with the club.
- This is a quick summary of some of the benefits of riding a bike and joining a local bike club. There is much, much more and I'll be happy to talk about biking all day long as we bike around the local area on one of our "Learning to Linger" bike rides and enjoy our wonderful community and the beautiful state of Pennsylvania.
Come join our bike club and I'll see you out there on the road!