Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bike Clubs in the New York Metro Area that Recumbent Riders May Enjoy.

A note about riding with groups and clubs:

Bent riders need to be particularly attentive and careful on group rides.  Recumbents handle differently than standard frames (SF), with different turning radiuses and different speeds on the hills, making your riding behavior hard to predict by SF riders.  This has created a perception that bent-riders may be prone to cause accidents on group rides.  Also, from the low position, speaking personally, I find it hard to see beyond the riders around me.  I generally recommend bents stay either a few bike lengths ahead of any pack, or a few lengths behind.  Bent riders shouldn't request or expect special treatment just because we're riding a recumbent; like any other participant on the ride, we need to be able to join in the conversation, keep up with the group and complete the ride.

If you're unsure if you have the skills or strength for a group ride that interests you, call or write and speak with the ride leader in advance.  And then, if you show up (or if you ride for a while and aren't fitting in well with the group) and the leader asks you not to participate on the ride, be nice and cooperative.  It may be a frustrating experience to be sent off on your own, but the time to change club or leader policies is not on the day of the ride.  More likely the time for that is at a club meeting.  Better yet, volunteer to be a leader and begin leading your own bent rides.

Please post or e-mail me with any clubs or list-servs you believe should be added.

MARS (Metro Area Recumbent Society)
The home page is stale, but the e-mail list is active and worth joining.  MARS members arrange rides on a casual basis, when someone feels like leading.  Pioneers of human powered vehicle design are on the e-mail list, so it's an interesting group.

Meet-up Group: New York City Recumbent Riders
Rides are organized a few times a year, sometimes in conjunction with the Appalachian Mountain Club.  Last-minute rides are posted when there's interest.  This is a new meet-up with a small, but growing membership.

The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC)
Robert Matson (hi) leads bike trips for the AMC from time to time.  His trips range from one to twelve days and recumbents are welcome.  Riders must be strong, have bikes in good condition, and bring all their own food and gear.  Routes are chosen for beauty and destination and not for easy riding.  There are a range of AMC rides with other leaders at varying levels of difficulty.  Leaders are volunteers; the AMC is a non-profit.

Five Borough Bicycle Club
"New York City's friendliest bike club" is bent-friendly as well.
On their website they write: "Whether you are new to cycling, a commuter seeking new adventures, or an avid cyclist, we have rides for you. Quite simply, when you ride with the 5BBC, you ride with friends."
Better yet, they offer training to those interested in becoming a 5BBC ride leader.

New York Cycle Club
New York's hard core bike club. Historically, NYCC has discouraged bent riders on almost all group rides.  However, if -- and that's a big if -- you're a highly skilled and strong rider with group riding experience, there are opportunities.  Mainly, their appeal to bent riders is they have the area's greatest ride library, they are active in cycling advocacy and they host excellent events.  There are usually bents on their big public rides like Escape from New York.  I'm a member and I support them because they are a world-class cycle club.  I ride with them a few times a year.

Westchester Cycle Club
"Open to everyone."

Randonneurs USA
From the website: "Randonneuring is long-distance unsupported endurance cycling. This style of riding is non-competitive in nature, and self-sufficiency is paramount. When riders participate in randonneuring events, they are part of a long tradition that goes back to the beginning of the sport of cycling in France and Italy. Friendly camaraderie, not competition, is the hallmark of randonneuring."

PA Randonneurs
PA refers to Pennsylvania.  The website summarizes their mission: "Organizing long distance, endurance bicycle events in the Eastern Pennsylvania Region."

Have fun, ride far, ride with friends,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2012 Robert Matson


  1. I really like MARS as they're very informal and there's no insistence on helmets! Unfortunately, most of their rides seem to be outside NYC proper.

    The 'bent meet-up looks interesting, though. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Another good thing about MARS is that anyone who wants to list a ride to the MARS listserv may do so. If an NYC-area rider wants a local ride, all he/she needs to do is think it up and post it!