Dec 26, 2018–I have a theory that life is a yearning for mobility.
It begins in infancy, when we first swivel our heads, opening up our world 180 degrees. Then on to crawling, walking, and running.
Finally, emulating humankind, we discover the wheel. It might be a wagon or a scooter or tricycle.
But the largest leap is the first time you ride a bike. You don’t remember your first step, but you never forget the day you soloed on two wheels.
You push off from the curb, and slip the surly bonds of earth. You are free. Rolling along, the breeze on your teeth, wheeling and weaving with a slight lean of your body.
Josh Allen, owner of Jack and Adam’s Bicycles in Fredericksburg, wants everyone to recapture that feeling. That’s why he organized the “No Spandex Ride.”
The name says it all.
“You show up wearing what you have on,” Allen said. “It’s for people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and ability to come and ride and just have fun.”
The ride started organically in the spring of 2017. On first and third Tuesdays, a group of riders gather at the shop on the corner of Lincoln and Creek around 6:00 p.m. They set out on the city’s side streets, and usually ride “from cemetery to cemetery,” a distance of seven to 10 miles on flat city streets.
It’s not a race or a competition. Whoever is “leading” decides which turns to make. As the group spreads out, those in front will wait for others to catch up, and an experienced rider is always designated to make sure no one gets left behind.
Anywhere from 10 to 40 show up, from age 8 to 80.
“We want it to grow, and everyone is welcome,” Allen said. “It’s really more about building the cycling community and getting people active, saying, hey, let’s have fun riding our bikes.”
But that’s only part of the story. After each ride, the group hangs out at Jack and Adam’s for pizza and beer or soft drinks. People started leaving money to help cover the cost, and soon built up a little fund. Someone suggested using the extra to buy a bike for a deserving individual.
Allen thought it was “a fantastic idea.” In a few weeks they had raised enough money for him to purchase and set up a Giant Revel mountain bike. That happened just in time for Christmas.
Allen contacted the Community Needs Council, who came up with a suitable recipient.
“We chose a child whose family has experienced loss and some financial challenge,” said Denise Rizzo, Donor and Community Relations, noting sadly it is only one of many they see in similar circumstances. “A bike is something to give him freedom. Obviously it will not replace the loss of a family member, but it lets him know that despite loss, he is loved and supported by people who don’t even know him.”
Everyone is invited to join up when the No Spandex Rides resume in March. I rode along in November, and found it surprisingly therapeutic and enjoyable, even for someone who usually rides alone. The seven miles passed easily, as you engaged in conversation with constantly changing companions. It’s like being at a cocktail party on wheels. I met several Hill Country residents I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Along the route, people even came out of their homes to wave and cheer us on.
That’s what the ride is all about, according to Allen.
“We want to build community,” he said. “We are trying to get as many as involved as we can. Everyone comes together for common cause to ride bikes. You might find someone you want to ride with, or even have dinner with some night.”
Allen, who has been riding seriously since college, is an evangelist for the benefits of biking, especially in the Hill Country.
“This is the best cycling in Texas,” he noted. “There are over 500 miles of paved county roads, with relatively little traffic. You have flats, plus climbing, with good views. It’s close to major metropolitan areas. It’s a way to stay active, get fit, have fun, and keep everybody young.”
So start pumping those legs. Getting on the bike will take you back to that time you first wobbled down the driveway without training wheels.
As Allen noted, the best exercise you can do is the one that you do. And Rizzo had the best reason of all: “It’s hard not to smile when you are on a bike.”
The No Spandex Ride starts up again the first Tuesday in March. For information, visit www.jackandadamsfredericksburg.com or call 830-992-3008.
For information on the Hill Country Community Needs Council, visit www.needscouncil.org or call 830-997-9756.