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Monday, June 09, 2008

Group rides: How's yours doing?

I've been wondering whether the high price of gas is affecting attendance at group rides this year. I know they've affected attendance of rides put on by the Belleville Area Bicycling and Eating Society.

So far this year, our attendance only has been 50 percent to 70 percent of what it has been in the past. Our sister group under the Gateway Council of Hostelling International umbrella, the St. Louis Turbos/Turtles, also is reporting a sharp decline in ride attendance this year.

We're convinced that gas prices are the big reason for the major declines, and we certainly can understand that people may not want to drive 25 miles or more to do a 25-mile bicycle ride.

I really don't know if gas prices are affecting big single-day events. Many still are reporting nice crowds. The Tour de Stooges ride fell from 700 in 2007 to 550 this year. I think that was more tied to dicey weather conditions the day of the ride than to gas prices, although we did draw riders from fewer states in 2008 than last year.

I do, however, think they're having an impact on multiday rides. For example, both the Great Ohio Bicycle Ride and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Katy Trail ride have had to extend their registration deadlines, while the Cycle Across Missouri ride going on this year has less than half the riders it had in 2007.

I'd love to hear from you about the group rides you're familiar with.

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Roger 5 comments links to this post 1:48 AM

The ONLY "group ride" I'm familiar with is one I never joined! During my 2002 cross-country trek (featured this month in my own online blog), people kept asking if I was "trying to catch up with that group." Apparently, a large multi-state ride had started just before my own solo adventure.

Group rides can be a great source of fun, competition, and camaraderie, but there also is something to be said for the solo experience.
It is a very rare occasion that I will go on any ride at all that I need to drive to. The ride must be at least 50 miles.

That was the case even before gas prices jumped.

The gas prices have definitely turned me away from doing numerous rides this year already -- the TDS and Hostelling's first century were the two exceptions. I was planning on doing Chief's ride, but because of the cost of gas, decided to pass (gave a donation instead). Same for the second Hostelling century.

While I would prefer to ride on low-traffic roads in the country for my long (> 30 miles) rides, I am reconciling myself to the idea that I am going to have to put in my miles in an urban setting and/or figuring out ways to do that relatively safely.
Besides the gas prices, the weather
hasn't been the greatest this year
either. We've skipped a few rides
this year because of rain, high
winds, or adnormally cool weather.
Your BABES Hidden Lake Winery Ride was one we skipped when we woke to rain in the morning.
I attended a bike-a-thon this weekend that's about a 90-mile drive for most of the people who attend from Seattle. Participation was down by 50%; and a lot of people car-pooled to get there.
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