The Wabash River Cycle Club has been keeping the rubber side down since 1978. Focused on promoting cycling awareness and safety, this club tries to offer a variety of group activities throughout the greater Lafayette area for cyclists of all ages and skill levels. This past weekend the club held their annual Wabash River Ride and BBQ that lead cyclists down a 35, 50, 72, or 108 mile route.
This was my second year participating in the Wabash River Ride and let me tell you, it was a blast. If you have never ventured down the roads around the Wabash River that take you west of town, you have been missing out. The scenery is some of the most beautiful the Wabash River Valley has to offer and the roads are quiet enough to keep from scaring away the casual rider.
SAG stops are a must on longer sponsored rides like these, and the WRCC has provided some of the best. Sponsors like Great Harvest Bread Co. and Pleasant Acre Farms as well as some hard working club members provide some awesome treats to keep riders fueled. Local shops like Hodson’s Bay Bike Shop, Virtuous Cycles, and People’s Brewing Company offered special discounts to early registrants, which was a nice bonus this year to the registration price. The price of the ride is fair, though as the route follows much of my normal riding routes, I always find it a little tough to swallow. Still, it goes towards a good cause. The WRCC teamed with Food Finders Food Bank and donated a portion of the registration fees to feed the hungry masses. You can’t complain about that!
The Wabash River Cycle Club is a staple of the area and does provide a great resource for aspiring cyclists. However, after interacting with them for a good year or so, I find that they tend to seem a little resistant to certain areas of cycling culture. Before I make anyone angry, I think it is totally acceptable to have a club focused on leisure riding, or only certain aspects of cycling as opposed to just promoting all there is to promote for cycling. My concern is that the WRCC doesn’t really specify only certain aspects of riding that they support, and as a fan of some of the types of cycling they do NOT seem to support, I find this off-putting. I have seen people reach out to the club from fixie groups, Bike Polo squads, and even aspiring racers, and all seem to be met with a slight bit of disdain. I know that even starting a mountain bike group within the club has been a bit hard. As an example, I have the privilege of working at a place where several folks ride their bikes to work. Most days there are at least 5 bicycles parked in our lot. I also happen to know that in my building there are a couple of ride leaders for the WRCC that walk past these bikes (even passing by me dressed in my kit while they are dressed in theirs, both of us clearly on our way to ride) without so much as a “hello.” Call me crazy, but if I was a leader in a group that supports all things cycling and I worked in a building with people that obviously loved cycling, I would at least stop and say hello sometime and tell them about my club. There are also the plethora of times I bump into a group wearing their WRCC jerseys whilst out riding and am given a bit of a cold shoulder. It really isn’t so much of a bad thing I suppose; it just means there is some opportunity for another club in this town (more to come on that later)! Like I said, it is totally acceptable to make a club that only is into promoting some types of cycling, but as the cities only club (currently) it would be nice to see a little more of a welcoming feel from this group. I would encourage anyone who loves riding to not be so quick to judge others. If they are riding, then you have something in common, so say hello! The WRCC doesn’t do a great job of advertising themselves locally so being nice to riders might be a good start at improving membership (not that they need to, they are a vast club with plenty of friendly and knowledgeable riders).
But I digress; the Wabash River Ride is a fantastic event. It’s certainly a challenging ride at some of the longer distances, offering well over 2,000 feet of climbing. The shorter distances still provide a great time for those that aren’t ready to take on a century or something like it. I would highly recommend everyone get out and try it next year. Not only is it a blast to share the road with so many other bike lovers, but the support of SAG cars and stops to help with food and breakdowns (and crashes) makes it a family event not to miss. Regardless of if the WRCC wants me there or not, I fully intend on riding this event as long as I can. Next year maybe I will put together a band of daisy-duke wearing fixie riders to crash the scene and show that we can hang with the big boys. I’m sure they would welcome us all just as well!