Local cycling club promotes fellowship, pedal power


Interested in getting into bicycling? There’s a group for that.

The Jackson County Bicycle Club meets every Wednesday evening for a group ride.

Local bicycle shop owner Matt Nicholson started the group in 2010, and Steve and Vicki Otto have led the group since 2012.

The group starts riding in the spring after daylight saving time begins and starts with a 2½-mile ride, which increases by a half-mile each week until they reach 10 miles.

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“We used to be very specific on our mileage,” Steve said. “Since it’s the same core group, we just kind of ride out and have fun with it. If only our regular members show up, we may just take off and ride 10 miles.”

The group has met at Seymour High School for about seven years and is for novice, intermediate and experienced riders.

“This is a flexible group, so if we have new people that show up, we’re more than happy to do what they can, so if they can’t do what’s prescribed for that week, we will ride along with them back here and then go finish up,” Vicki said. “If they can do it, then they’re welcome to stick around with us.”

If you need a pick-me-up, the group will provide that, too.

“We had a mom and her daughter ride with us for the first time two weeks ago on our Sunday night ride, and she was just really struggling and pedaling like crazy,” Vicki said. “We have little things we do, and one of them is to move them to the front. The mom asked me why I did that, and I told her because if you’re in the front, you’re not thinking about being in the back of the line.”

The group also noticed the girl was not wearing gloves, so Vicki loaned her her gloves. The group gave her tips on riding in the correct gear to make the ride a little easier.

“Then we found out her tire was flat, and it’s hard to ride with a low tire,” Vicki said. “By the time we got those things done, we put her back on the bike, and she was taking off the rest of the evening.”

The group covers a lot of the ground in Seymour.

The longest ride it has done is 14 miles, and they don’t ride the same route each week.

“We kind of go everywhere,” Steve said before the group embarked on a 9-mile ride through Seymour into Freeman Field and back around Gaiser Park.

“We mostly stick in town,” Vicki said. “When we started, we wanted everyone to know the best ways to get to the schools, the parks and some of the shopping centers.”

Steve said one of the biggest advantages of riding together as a group is safety.

“I think the cars respect us more and tend to give us a little more room,” he said.

Riding as a group also provides opportunities to learn things you may not have known otherwise, he said.

“You see how other people do things and can learn from it,” he said.

Kevin Greene, a longtime member of the group and regular rider, agreed.

“It’s safer because a rider by himself tends to get squeezed into spaces, but as a group, drivers kind of have to give you more room,” he said.

Greene said group riding also is better because the exercise comes easier.

“When you’re talking, your mind isn’t really on what you’re doing,” he said.

Vicki said the group also enjoys visiting each other each week, and the group also visits local restaurants after rides to share fellowship and support local businesses.

“Sometimes, that’s the most important part,” Steve said with a laugh. “Some of us used to work together, but the rest of us only know each other through riding.”

Steve said the riding scene in Seymour has changed since the group began.

Years ago when he and Vicki started riding, most people that rode were riding for transportation rather than recreation.

“People were using biking to get to work and such, and we were kind of the odd people out,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of riders now because used to, when we would see someone on a bike, we would know them. Now, there’s a lot of riders we see that we don’t know.”

Greene said he enjoys the group because he simply likes riding with other people.

“It’s the fellowship of the riders I like because I ride so much by myself that it’s nice to get out with a group,” he said. “I think we all like talking among each other, and I know I enjoy eating with everybody afterward, and I look forward to this each week.”

Greene said he rides about 100 miles each week.

Jessica Hougland, 12, attended the group ride with her father, Scott, and said she has been riding with the group off and on for the past few years. She said she enjoys the social aspect of the group.

“I just like being with people,” she said. “I also like when we ride through the country when we do that.”

Any riders interested in joining the group may show up at Seymour High School in front of the pool entrance at 6 p.m. Wednesdays.

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