Source: Roger Kramer Cycling
The short version of my philosophy of cycling is this: I will continue to ride my bicycle as long as it remains fun. When it isn’t fun anymore, then I will stop.
Of course, there’s a long version, and I’m going to share that with you.
Life on the road
When I started cycling seriously about 15 years ago, the only real option for we Midwesterners was road riding. Even though I now own a mountain bike, the vast majority of my rides are on a road bike.
I realize a lot of people don’t feel safe on the roads, and a lot of roads in metropolitan areas like St. Louis aren’t safe for cars, let alone bikes. The advent of the Katy Trail and other trails in the St. Louis metropolitan area have allowed people to take up cycling and avoid the roads.
But I believe those people are missing out on something special. I can honestly say that in my multiday trips and my routine daily rides in Illinois and North Carolina, I have had few problems with motorists. I am convinced the big reason for that is because I make every effort to obey bicycling laws.
In my neck of the woods, we have had a controversy regarding group rides in a rural Illinois county on the edge of the St. Louis metropolitan area. While I do believe some of the residents have overreacted to the problem, I am convinced we cyclists have contributed to the problem by not obeying traffic laws. Illinois law, for example, requires cyclists to ride no more than two abreast, unless there is traffic, then we are required under law to ride single file. Yet, many cyclists disobey the law, hold up traffic and put themselves in danger of being hit by another car.
As a leader of an organized ride in the St. Louis area, the Tour de Stooges, I make of a point of explaining key Illinois cycling laws. Not every ride leader in the St. Louis area does that, and I think they should. A little bit of education would do a whole lot to improve the relationship between cyclists and motorists.
Of course, we also need to do a better job of teaching motorists that we have a legal right to be on the road.
Give back to the sport
Cycling has given me many hours of fun, relaxation and enjoyment. Because of that, I’m obligated to give something back.
This is part of the reason why I have created this site. I want to educate people about the joys of long-distance cycling, and I want to help people make an educated decision about what rides are best for them.
This is also part of the reason why I lead the Tour de Stooges and lead an occasional weekly ride for the Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society.
I’m not calling on you to take on a ride the size of the Tour de Stooges or something major like RAGBRAI, but I hope you’ll do something. Joining your local bike club is a good first step. You may want to build on that by joining a national organization like the League of American Bicyclists and Hostelling International, both of which promote bicycling.
If you’re willing to go farther, you can volunteer to do registration or some other duty on your club’s big rides for the years. A lot of groups will let you ride for free or give you a T-shirt for your efforts. As you learn about how much is involved in running a big ride, perhaps you will find the calling to run a big ride. If you do, I wish you luck and commend you for your effort!