Happy Bike Month, Colorado! We know, you’re wheelie, wheelie excited about celebrating (even if you’re not half amused by tire-d attempts at being punny). After all, we’re in Boulder County, a cycling mecca. Not only is our superb location at the foot of the Rocky Mountains a magnet for pros, we have amazing access to bike paths, mountain passes, bike sharing, teams, tours, singletrack, dirt jumps, cyclocross…you name it.
Here in sunny, active Colorado, the lure of the bike is undeniably magnetic, right? Of course, depending on your perspective, it can also be a bit daunting. Even for the most experienced cyclists, there can come a time when roads feel a little less welcome. In fact, some days the very fact that our community is such a draw for athletes is the very thing that causes reluctance. If you’re not geared up in slick spandex for an intense time trial, do you still fit in?
The answer, of course, if a hearty YES. Here in our bike-friendly #HealthyLongmont, opportunities abound for getting out and riding for fitness, fun, and pure transport. Between our 158+ miles of greenway paths and bike lanes, our new Bike Share program, group rides and the celebrated, casual, family-friendly G’Knight Ride from Bicycle Longmont, and more, there’s indeed many a something for everyone. If you’re feeling a little out of practice, perhaps a little rusty, Rusty, Dusty Riders may well be one of those somethings for you.
Art in Public Places Administrator and Traffic Safety Coordinator for City of Longmont, veteran cyclist and accomplished endurance athlete Lauren Greenfield has been actively assisting others in becoming more confident, capable cyclists since she took off on her own two wheels. Offering numerous bike maintenance and safety classes through the City and privately, she noticed a standout trend. The most heavily requested classes were those that drew primarily mature women. “I saw a lot of enthusiasm for riding coupled with hesitation,” Greenfield says. “People were held back by uncertainty–where to go, how to get from the house to the bike path, what to do in case of a flat. They were all levels, interested more in the camaraderie and the route than competition.”
In response to the demand, Greenfield began leading the Rusty, Dusty Riders group last summer, continuing through the winter but modifying sessions to be strictly classroom-based when it was too cold. The sessions offer a blend of information, instruction, and camaraderie on the bike. Topics vary, but the format stays the same. The first hour is education, with a flexible focus based on participant needs and interests. Everything from road safety, route planning, what to wear, buying a bike, finding “cute” accoutrements for the bike, and maintenance is discussed. Following are bike and helmet safety checks, possible skills and drills practice, and casual group riding on the paths and quiet roads.
“I moved to Longmont two years ago from Illinois,” says participant Sue, attending the group for the second time. “I used to ride a lot when I was younger and am just getting back into cycling. This group has been a great opportunity to meet people and find out where to ride.” At the first group, Sue sought advice on where to purchase a bike locally. Upon arriving at her second session, bike in the back of her car, she was on the lookout for a bike rack that would suit her needs.
“I love riding, and encouraging others,” says Katie, who assists Greenfield in leading rides. Katie, an experienced cyclist and newly retired, moved to Longmont from Fort Collins four years ago. She joined in on group rides Greenfield was leading, Girls and Gears, and became involved with Bicycle Longmont. “I can’t stand the elitist culture that exists in sport,” she says. “For cycling, the impression that can be falsely given that you have to look a certain part, be a racer, to be entitled to share in the enjoyment. It’s for everyone. I’m in my 60s now, still riding, and I plan to keep on riding and loving it for as long as I can. This group is the kind of thing that can make that happen for anyone who wants it. Our aim is to get out, relax, enjoy.”
Interested, but not feeling too keen to claim “rusty” as a personal descriptor? Don’t be fooled by the name. There is no age requirement. “Self-imposed seniors is who we’re comprised of,” Greenfield says good-naturedly. Do trust that the humorous title is indicative of the laid-back feel of the group.
“I love riding, and encouraging others,” says Katie, who assists in leading rides. Katie, an experienced cyclist and newly retired, moved to Longmont from Fort Collins four years ago. She joined in on group rides Greenfield was leading, Girls and Gears, and became involved with Bicycle Longmont. “I can’t stand elitist culture in sport,” she says. “For cycling, it’s easy to feel you have to look a certain part, be a racer, to be entitled to share in the enjoyment. It’s for everyone. I’m in my 60s now, still riding, and I plan to keep on riding and loving it for as long as I can. This group is the kind of thing that can make that happen for anyone who wants it. Our aim is to get out, relax, enjoy.”
Greenfield posts sessions on Meetup, and plans to offer them the second and fourth Wednesday of each month schedule permitting. Location may vary, most likely alternating between the Longmont Senior Center and Izaak Walton Clubhouse to begin. While specifics may evolve, one thing for certain is Greenfield’s commitment. “I love it,” she says. “I just love sharing a role in connecting others, helping build excitement and confidence about getting people out there enjoying their bikes, feeling prepared with the information they need.”