It doesn’t matter what kind of bike you have, Bike Friendly organizer Bill Orchard thinks group rides — and especially group rides with a fun theme — tend to be more fun. “The best parts of …
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It doesn’t matter what kind of bike you have, Bike Friendly organizer Bill Orchard thinks group rides — and especially group rides with a fun theme — tend to be more fun.
“The best parts of the ride are the people and the bikes,” Orchard said. “No two people have the same bike.”
The Bike Friendly Arvada cycling group launched in 2013 as part of an initiative by the city to foster community. Today, it continues because of volunteers.
Orchard dedicates time and effort to create fun and challenging rides for people of all ages and abilities. Plus, all bike types are welcome.
Orchard’s experience with Denver’s Bicycle Touring Club made him the prime candidate to lead Bike Friendly. When he first took over as organizer, only a half-dozen people rode regularly. Orchard rallied the core group and planned out rides for the entire year.
“Each ride has a theme,” he said. The theme encourages participation from the neighborhood.
“We’ve done a brewery ride, a fire station ride, a Father’s Day ride, and a Rockies’ game ride,” Orchard says. “More people come when it’s theme-based.”
The group also participates in city-wide events, such as Bike to Work Day, Arvada Days, and Trails Day.
The type of ride varies from month-to-month. The recreation-style rides are usually 12 to 20 miles long, while the family-friendly rides average five to six miles. Before the ride begins, cyclists gather around the group’s flag while the ride leader provides details on the route and explains any safety guidelines. Riders also must sign a waiver before going with the group.
The most successful rides have been the family-oriented ones. The Ice Cream ride, where the route was short and ended with the cold treat, was one of the most popular rides with a total of 42 cyclists. Orchard chuckles as he recalls trying to wrangle all the kids on bikes into an organized group. “It was fun,” he said.
The other ride Orchard enjoys is the annual Hot Chocolate Family Ride in October. The easy five-mile route ends at Bluegrass Lounge in Olde Town Arvada where riders indulge in warm cocoa and the kid riders receive a gift.
The core group has grown over the last few years. Still, Orchard expects at every ride that at least two or three new faces will show up. The group is active on the social media site, MeetUp, and tracks upcoming ride information as well as attendees through the site. Orchard’s goal continues to be “more people out on the rides!”
Brandon Figliolino, a core member of the group and ride leader, agrees.
“The more people we can have out on bikes the better,” Figliolino says. He heard about the group in 2014 while attending a city of Arvada meeting. The meeting emphasized the fun of community rides, and Figliolino responded enthusiastically.
“People come from all over the city to join us,” he said.
Figliolino’s favorite ride is the Graveyard Ride in October. Bill Orchard leads riders on a tour of three historical cemeteries in Arvada during a 14-mile trek.
“Bill gives the history of the graveyards during the ride, and it’s so interesting,” Figliolino comments.
Figliolino’s passion for cycling extends beyond just the group rides, though. He wants more people to bike every day.
“The larger interest we have in cycling, the greater opportunity we have to say to the City, `Hey - this road needs fixing, or we need a bike line here,’” he said.
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