Cycling club offers valley riders a chance to get in on group fun, experience

After years of being a cyclist, Sandy VanDerPuy was looking to join a group to accompany on longer bicycle rides. She instead created the Green Valley Cyclists in 2004.

“It started out with seven or eight people,” she said. “I never expected it to get over 10. I’m amazed to see how large we are.”

Nearly 10 years later, the club is a nonprofit that has more than 120 members.

“I think the highest we have been is 150 members,” VanDerPuy said. “It fluctuates depending on the year.”

Ron Volkmar, president of the Green Valley Cyclists, said rides are usually between 25 and 40 miles long. Rides are categorized as A, B, C and D based on average speeds used. Volkmar became president of the organization after VanDerPuy stepped down. She remains the group’s vice president.

“ ‘A’ riders are the fastest, and ‘D’ riders are beginners,” Volkmar said. “Beginners should be able to cycle at least 25 miles at about 10 miles per hour.”

VanDerPuy said the club has had D riders who are just starting out in cycling. There is a variety of age ranges, with people in their 80s riding, Volkmar added. Group sizes vary, too.

“I would guess our average age is in the low 50s,” he said.

Each rider has a story about how he got into cycling and heard about the club.

“I got into riding as a means to get into shape 10 years ago,” Volkmar said. “My enjoyment of the sport kept growing.”

His first major feat was a 100-mile competition. He went on to tackle multiple 200-mile adventures. Two years ago, he completed a cross-country race. Through his experiences connecting with other cyclists on the road, he discovered the club.

No matter the reason, VanDerPuy said there are many benefits to joining a club.

“It helps get stronger and better,” she said. “There are many people who started on our C rides and D rides who are now doing A and B rides.”

Volkmar added that it’s nice belonging to a group and to have the guidance of other experienced riders.

VanDerPuy said because of group members’ varying experience, new riders have a chance to learn anything from how to use their bikes to the fullest potential to how to change a flat tire. She added that the club would be nothing without its riders, many of whom volunteer their time to lead rides. But her biggest reason why a club is a great idea is for safety.

“A large group of riders is easier to spot than a rider by himself,” she said.

Being in larger groups on the roads can help cyclists avoid issues with motorists. However, with trails in Henderson, Volkmar said it’s a good place to find alternative routes.

“Henderson is a perfect place to have a bike club,” he said. “There are so many places to bike with all the trails.”

The club has activities for each skill level throughout the week. Cyclists don’t have to be members to join a ride and can participate at any time.

“The club is primarily a social club for folks who like to ride with other people,” Volkmar said. “We do not have a race team.”

For more information, visit greenvalleycyclists.org.

Contact Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 702-387-5201.

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