How Much Cycling Can You Enjoy in 25 Years?Dale Campbell - Bent Fork Chronicles Co-Editor
But, if you take a brief look at cycling in Colorado Springs through the years, you soon realize that some of the progressions of growth and activities that have occurred over the past 25 years have been the result of the members of and membership in the Colorado Springs Cycling Club.
There are so many way one can look at this... as a personal retrospective, from the standpoint of the community, and also as a Club of individuals gathering together with a common interest. So, let me take a few moments of your time in reviewing the past 25 years by thinking along the lines of these three topics.
Let's start with the concept of a group of individuals gathered together with a common interest. To sustain the interests of this group of individuals, the financial support can either come from individual or family dues collection or from fund raising events. Since one of the aspects of the Club is to make riding accessible for all who want to participate, high dues would be self-defeating. So, the focus is on fund raising events, such as TOARV, Hardscrabble and BVBF.
The first Tour of the Arkansas River Valley (TOARV) was 1988, enabling 35 riders to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the river. The two-day event started on a Saturday in May, with the first day's ride from Canyon City along the Arkansas River to Salida, finishing in Buena Vista. The second day routed the ride over Trout Creek Pass to Hartsel and then back to Canyon City. 1997 was the peak year for TOARV with 310 riders. For the final TOARV in 1998, the Club hosted 204 riders for this eleventh year of the event.
At some point in the Club's early history, it also picked up the Tour de Hardscrabble from the defunct Strada Bicycle Club. In 1993, there were 439 riders, increasing to a peak of 749 riders in 1996. The final year for Hardscrabble was 1999 with 246 cyclists. [Editors Note: Hardscrabble was terminated after 1999 because it was no longer profitable. It was also difficult having enough volunteers for two events - BVBF and Hardscrabble.]
In 1999 CSCC decided to switch TOARV to be a fixed base event in Buena Vista called Buena Vista Bike Fest (BVBF). Like TOARV, it was a 2-day event with the addition of mountain biking to the road cycling. The BVBF motto the first few years was "Where the Road meets the Dirt". The first year drew 214 riders. In the following year, participation was down to 157, bottoming out in 2001 with 144 cyclists. In 2002 things began to pickup with 207, but not really enough to sustain the event and the Club. Then in 2003, after dropping mountain biking from the Bike Fest and changing the format to a single day century ride, participation was up to 488, continuing to increase in 2004 to about 700. In 2005, BVBF sold out for the first time, supporting 831 riders and it has been sold out every year since.
Paralleling the history of the above rides with the history of the Club at that time, it's evident that the support from the members of CSCC plays a vital role in the success of such events. The Club had declining membership beginning in 1999-2000 and was also facing financial difficulties during this same period. In 2002, the BVBF committee decided to make one more push with BVBF 2003. If that had failed, the Club would probably have failed. But, as we know, it was and continues to be a success. It's also important to note that the Club has only raised dues once and that occurred during this dark period.
Over the years, the support for these fund raising events has primarily relied on volunteer support. These volunteers are the same folks that you enjoy riding with, socializing with and dining with. Humm... this sounds like a group of individuals gathered together with a common interest. That's the power of an organization that pulls together people of varying backgrounds and experiences to focus on that common interest.
What about the longevity of the Club from the standpoint of the community - our second focal point? Extending the classification of a group of individuals gathered together with a common interest, it's easy to see how the power of numbers can translate into influence in the community. Let's start with something as simple as keeping track of the mileage of the organized rides. In the mid 90s, the Club recorded mileage. Taking a sample from the newsletter archives, individual total mileage in 1994 varied from 321 as a minimum to 2708 for a maximum (source: the Jan/Feb 1995 edition of the Bent Fork Chronicles). I see that I was even able to ride 1397 miles that year. In 1997, the individual totals grew by about a factor of two, with the higher numbers over 4000 miles (source: the Jan/Feb 1998 edition of the Bent Fork Chronicles). There was even one Club member that year with a registered total of 9210 miles! While the Club totals are not readily available for those years, I would estimate the numbers to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 35,000 to 40,000 miles total. Our more recent ride mileage history is well documented on the Club website, with the totals ranging in the 75,000 to 90,000 mile range per year.
Again, there is power in the numbers. If a group of like minded cyclists can demonstrate almost 100,000 individual total miles of organized rides, just how many more miles of commuting and non-Club mileage are there? And, most importantly, how does this impact community and local government support for enabling cycling in Colorado Springs and El Paso County? One could conclude that this would be a very positive impact, indeed!
And that influence easily extends to the local and state community via advocacy for cycling and outreach about cycling. CSCC is fortunate to be able to extend the results of our fund raising events (that are supported by volunteers) to the community through contributions to specific groups and organizations.
What about the final perspective for this retrospective - the personal impact? For my own part, I know that my interest and involvement in cycling has grown and expanded over 25 years. When Sharon and I got married, also 25 years ago, our meeting was the result of a volunteer event and one of our first shared activities was a bicycle ride. When Sharon came to the Colorado Springs community in July 1993, one of the first things she did was to join the "Bike Club." And, when I was able to transition out here in February 1994, my first social activity in the Colorado Springs community was the Sunday Social Ride on 6 February. Over the past years, Sharon and I have learned a great deal about the community and cycling as a result of our membership and involvement with the CSCC.
Our cycling growth continued through the various trips we enjoyed (Thanksgivings at Moab, three-day tours in northern New Mexico, weekends in Creede & Tarryall-Wilkerson Pass, for example). I'm sure that regardless of longevity with the Club, every other member would have similar stories of individual growth and enjoyment as a result of sharing times with a "bunch of bikers", that group of individuals gathered together with a common interest.
So, after 25 years of having CSCC in the Colorado Springs community, where does this leave us? With a rich history and many memories of good times. And this also leaves us with a solid foundation on which to continue forward into the next 5, 10 or 25 years. So, keep volunteering, keep riding and continue to enjoy the experiences that come from sharing time with group of individuals gathered together with a common interest.
Stay safe and enjoy the ride!