Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wilmington Cyclotouring Club (Provisional Name)

My friend Scott and I have been kicking around the idea of starting a bicycle club. The club would be based in downtown Wilmington and focus on reviving the tradition of cyclotouring and bike camping. Before the ascendancy of the car in the 1950's, bike camping and cyclotouring were popular leisure activities, particularly in Europe. The club is in its nascent stage, and we're gauging interest, though we're likely to get it rolling even if we only have a half dozen member to start out.

If you're in and need no further persuasion, click here to join the Google Group. But please read on to see what we're about. And if you're not yet sure, please read on and join the group if you're so inclined.

Here's the plan so far.

The club would encourage and promote transportation via bicycle to and from camping and other recreation destinations. Our activity is not a philosophical or ideological statement but a preference for riding our bikes as transport when possible and the wish to encourage and assist others who would like to do so. We suspect there are others who would like to substitute bicycle for automobile transport to and from popular outdoor leisure destinations, and intend to provide convivial assistance to those who are interested. Rides will begin and end in downtown Wilmington, rather than outside the city, so that people do not need to drive (or at least not drive far) to the start of each ride.

Extended tour rides would be minimal, since we understand most people's schedules make group multi-day trips nearly impossible to coordinate. However, we would serve as a resource to anyone undertaking such trips and encourage all members to offer hospitality to traveling cyclotourists by registering at the Warm Showers website.

Club rides would consist of the following. I've listed the rides in order of time commitment, which is inversely related to frequency with which the club would organize rides.

1--Day trips to the area beaches. These are easy (distance) rides from downtown, but often traverse roads inhospital to single cyclists and families. By riding as a group we would increase our visibility, safety, and the comfort of riders--especially those who are unaccustomed to riding on roads with fast automobile traffic. Group participation would also allow the group to rent a beachouse for the day at minimal cost to individual participants.

2--Overnight camping rides. These rides would go from downtown Wilmington to a camping destination 30-40 miles away, where the group would camp overnight and the return ride to Wilmington leaving late morning or early afternoon. Typically the ride would leave Saturday afternoon with a Sunday afternoon or evening return, since this would fit into the largest number of people's schedules. Club members who work on the weekend would be encouraged to find others with similar schedules and organize rides during weekdays.

3--Three to four day touring trips. These rides would be infrequent, perhaps twice yearly, and planned well in advance to make participation practical. The trip would consist of a three to four day (2-3 night) loop beginning and ending in Wilmington. Depending on the number and inclination of the participants, overnight accommodations would either be at campsites or motel/hotel rooms.

Please note that if you're interested in any of these rides, we want you in the club. Even if you're interested in meeting us at our destination, and don't plan to ride with us, we want you in the club. We won't ask how, or discriminate according to, your method of transport to our destinations (that will be one of the few club rules). We understand that because of various factors, some people don't feel comfortable biking in traffic. We regret this situation and welcome all.

I think that covers it--at least for now. The next step is a club website and all the electronic management it entails. I can cover the hosting fees, and I could build the website, but I'm very open to anyone else who would like to do so. I only ask that if you take on the task you take it on for at least a year. It is less hassle for me to build a simple website than hunt down a new webmaster/mistress every month.

If you don't yet want to join the group but are interested, comment below with any questions, e-mail me, or drop by the shop. But joining the google group is a no obligation thing, and the group will facilitate and exchange of ideas to get the club off the ground and get rides organized.

When the club does exist, there will be no dues, waivers, or membership forms. People who participate in our rides will be free to claim or disavow membership in the club. Claiming membership will merely commit members to riding in our rides when they're able and willing, and acting like decent human beings while on our rides. We welcome characters, wallflowers, eccentrics, and the opinionated. Boorish and impolite conduct will be the only impediments to participation. All other are welcome.


Mike said...

I'm in for sure. I just got a Yuba Mundo for this purpose (as well as many other purposes). With it I can help others carry there stuff. I still need to get camping gear though. All I have is a 2-burner Coleman stove that I've never used and a sleeping bag.

Longleaf Bicycles said...

Hello Mike,

Glad to have you. Please join the Google Group linked above. We're going to need a communication hub so that those interested can plan rides. And tell anyone who is interested to join as well.


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