Why we are…

I’ve discussed different ideas for future RCCS rides on the blogger site, but I’d like to offer some concepts that have inspired me to create momentum for the RCCS.  Having now commuted for about 10 years, this daily activity has transformed my riding interests from a recreational activity to a lifestyle one.  Also, the Internet has certainly given me a window into the myriad of cycling activities that are found all over, and often not in Louisville.  Readers and participants are encouraged to seek out more information and experiences for creating new RCCS rides that will greatly enhance what we can do here in the ‘Ville.  These are in no particular order, but all show what amazing and fun activities that the bicycle can help us experience.

Aside from commuting, I have to say that the Rivendell Bicycle Works ethos is one that has made a great impact on what I want to do on a bike.  Grant Peterson has gained significant notoriety, fame, and some censure for his opinionated views of the role of the bicycle.  Particularly useful has been I/Grant’s “Tips for Happy Riding“.    I/Grant has also caused a bit of a “rage” in the alterna-cycling world with his espousement of the the S24O, the sub-24hr Overnight camping trip.  There is even a separate website for S24O trips.  Kent Peterson is an excellent source for information about bike camping; his ride reports are a must and a real pleasure to read.  A more recent one, pics included, is found here.  To further the discussion of bike camping, the Epicuriean Cyclist throws hit hat into the ring with a thorough and lively site of the camping milieu.

Two more in-print sources of good cycling news come from RBW’s Rivendell Reader and Jan Heine’s Bicycle Quarterly.  While both are ostensibly “retro”, both espouse the use of diverse, capable and comfortable long-mile bicycles.  Steel is real, my friends and wider tires do promote different kinds of rider experiences.  Interestingly, there is a gulf between these two groups, that of the RBW crew being “English” in nature and BQ being “French”.  It has alot to do with trail and where to store your bags and gear.  I’m sure it’s all very cogent and interesting, but I’m satisfied with my RBW-designed mount and don’t personally need to gnash teeth over this one.

Moving away from RBW and BQ, further inspiration comes directly from the great community coming from Hiawatha Cyclery in Minneapolis.  You can read this brief entry from their blog about the New Year’s Day ride taking place from Hiawatha as an example.  This is the nugget of wisdom that inspired the RCCS.  Hiawatha sponsors a regular ride (don’t know the interval) that ranges from minor trails, snow/ice, and urban crusing to 3-Speed rural rolling.  Jim @ Hiawatha informed me that it originated as a way to do more slower social rides and since has transmutated into a rotating caravan of group and family rides involving local bakeries and all manner of weather and speed.  Reading stories about the Hiawatha rides made me think that Louisville needs that kind of cycling experience.  If you marry the Hiawatha ethos with the RBW sense of adventure, the result is cycling at its best.

Other (sic…I  lost half of this entry from my stupid internect connection.  Ggrr!!) sources of interest are the many mixed terrain options and doings out there in the cycling world.  San Fransisco, heretofore known as NoCal, has a thriving mixed terrain scene centered around the SFRandonneurs and some guy names Carlos.  Granted, it helps to have a plethora of off-road options close to home, but Carlos also provides a nice primer on the mixed-terrain ethos.  NoCal, for example, also offers rides like the BoxDogBikes 100K Alleycat. I don’t know why the ‘Ville couldn’t put something fun like this together (perhaps using S.Indiana roads?).  You can also find excellent mixed terrain options in other far flung corners of the continent as well.  The Midwest, Kansan to be precise, hosts what seems like one of the more epic rides available, the Dirty Kanza 200, a 200-mile paved and gravel road romp that certainly falls under the “epic” title.  And on the far East coast the D2R2 offers over 100 miles of gravel and pavement with over 11,000ft of climbing thrown in for good measure.  For that matter, the website RoughRiders does a nice job fleshing out the experience as well.  Minneapolis, home of aforementioned Hiawatha Cyclery, also hosts several off-kilter and slightly insane dirt rides, the first to my attention being the Slick 50 Spring Class-Sick.  No, Louisville’s geography, topography and roadography do not lend to hosting some of these types of events, but who says we can’t try to do something interesting on the bike.

In closing, a couple thoughts pertinently come to mind.  Firstly, the RCCS is not only about steel, leather, and the aesthetics of the “retro” movement, nor the bearded Surly fixie aesthetic.  It happens to be that these caught my attention as something fun and different.  It seems that with this aesthetic also comes an interest in mixed terrain, adventure, and social rides that I’m sure challenge the riders but also keep it in the context of “group”;  that’s important to the potential development of a RCCS.  If you look at these pages and sites, you’ll find a strong sense of inclusive comraderie.   And secondly and very importantly, all riders are welcome.  It’s not about fitting in or fitting out for that matter; it’s about new and interesting experiences aboard the greatest machine of all time.  Check it out!!