This begins a series of posts that will highlight group rides in the Charlotte area. Some you will have to go far and wide to get to; others will be right around the corner. For many cyclists, that is just the way it is—we are used to it.
The ride that will start the “Group Ride of the Week” series has a storied history in the Charlotte area cycling community. It also had the added advantage of being able to extend rides for those who did the 7 AM ride out of Bike South (now called Carolina Bicycle Company). This ride was routine for many cyclists, a social event for some, and for those who were always at the front, it was a test to see who had the legs for the climbs and sprints plastered over this 30-mile loop (two state line sprints and one hill top sprint). Every level of cyclist has done this ride at some time or another. Beginners complete the short ride, while the long, high-speed, “hang on till you just can’t do it anymore” ride is for the more experienced cyclists. The latter is the type of ride where all the sprints to the signs count, where breakaways on hills are important, and where making every light is crucial so you do not have to stop.
This ride was the birthing and proving ground for some of the most outstanding junior cyclist squads in the area: the Carolina Storm and the Carolina Cyclones under the leadership of Eric Peterson.
For those who have yet to figure out the ride being discussed, it is the Ultimate Bicycle Saturday 8 AM No Drop ride that started in Pineville, NC some years back. In many ways, this ride launched people into other parts of the sport of cycling. Some switched solely to mountain biking, many ventured over to the triathlon world, while still others ventured into full on racing and are doing well at it. No one was left behind. Moreover, the Charlotte cycling community has been much better off because of it.
One thing you must have on every No Drop ride is a skillful ride leader—one who does not mind riding at the back or more slowly at times but who is also a strong rider who knows cycling well. The mark of a great ride leader is that he/she can teach cycling ethics while riding. Many of us have learned a lot from a good ride leader over the years and, in turn, have the ability to teach others, as well.
Remembering and honoring this ride for how it connected so many people is important. It has certainly changed your very own Charlotte Cycling examiner’s life. So forgetting this ride would be like forgetting that Ultimate Bicycle on North Polk St. in Pineville ever existed; or that Dan, Steve, Teelo, Mike, Saul, Andrea, Greg, and Jerry ever helped anyone buy or ride a bike. It’s memories like these that keep most of us going and remind us of the people we have met and ridden with over the years.
The Ultimate Bicycle 8 AM No Drop ride is sorely missed. However, its memory lives on in many minds and hearts. Therefore, wherever you go or wherever you ride, if you see newbie cyclists on your local group ride, help them out, talk to them, explain what goes on while riding in a group. You can pass on this valuable tradition without even being a ride leader.
So until next time, keep it on the street and go ride your bike!