Slow or fast. Mountain or street.
The Pearl River Bicycle Club is meant for any cyclist, say club members.
Part of the club’s function is to connect bikers with rides. Club members organize weekly Wednesday evening rides, and several longer treks throughout the year. People in the club vary in fitness levels and style of biking they enjoy, said club president Travis DeMoss.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of bike you have or how you want to ride; there’s someone to ride with,” he said.
Ebby Norman, owner of Pro-Velo bicycle shop, said, “Initially, a lot of people thought the club was for racers.” But, about 85 percent of the members do cycling other than racing, said Norman, who is also a member of the club.
“They’re just individuals who like to ride bicycles,” he said.
Annual membership fees are $25, and can apply to an entire household. So, a family of four could all join for the $25 fee.
Club members have access to information about rides, including longer trips that include SAG (support and gear). They are also covered by insurance for basic injuries and some equipment losses on bicycle trips, provided through the League of American Bicyclists.
“I think that’s a benefit people wouldn’t think of,” DeMoss said.
The weekly rides start at 5:30 p.m. at the Clarendon Road trail head of the Katy. The rides range from five to 30 miles “on the trail or there’s a group of riders that hit the road,” DeMoss said.
Non-members are also welcome on the weekly rides, DeMoss said.
One of the bigger organized rides is the Katy Trail Experience, which starts in Clinton and ends in St. Charles. This year’s trip is expected to be in September and last four days. It is SAG supported.
Three riders participated last year, but DeMoss was expecting a bigger group this fall. So far, 12 to 15 people have expressed interest.
In the spring, club members ride to Cole Camp with the option of catching a ride home or biking back. DeMoss said the trip, called the Metric Meltdown, is “designed for a variety of riders.”
The club started with an exploratory meeting of about 30 bicycle enthusiasts in December 2006.
“With that kind of response, it seemed likely it was a good time to do that,” DeMoss said.
More than 40 bikers are club members, and that figure grows by one or two a month, DeMoss said.
“Which, for a small town, I think is pretty impressive,” he said.
The club was named in honor of the Pearl River, which once flowed through downtown before it was paved over and tied into sewers as the city developed, DeMoss said.
“Pro-Velo (bicycle shop) sits on the banks of the Pearl River. ... We just thought it was a wonderful tribute to a river that’s no more. In 50 years, when there’s a Pearl River Bike Club, it’s a testament to where it all started, which is Pro-Velo,” DeMoss said.
Besides organizing rides, the club has a goal to achieve “Bicycle Friendly Community” status from the League of American Bicyclists. Missouri has yet to have a city receive this designation.
“Sedalia has the opportunity to be the first,” DeMoss said. “That’s absolutely within our club’s radar.”
DeMoss said Sedalia already has an advantage due to the estimated 21,000 people who ride the Katy Trail through Sedalia annually. There are also three major cycling events in Sedalia: MS 150, Department of Natural Resources annual Katy Trail ride and the criterion races downtown.
Club members would like to support other efforts and develop and host a 100-mile ride, which could attract a large number of riders, DeMoss said. They are also proponents of the state “Safe Routes to Schools” program, which encourages walking and biking to school by providing a safe path. Sedalia recently received a state grant to implement the program at the Sedalia Middle School.
Sedalia and Pettis County are decent places to bike, DeMoss said. Motorists tend to have a gracious attitude toward bikers, he said.
“Just the fact people are used to seeing cyclists on our state highways here is a good thing,” he said.
Norman said the goal to receive the designation as a bike friendly community is achievable.
“We are very fortunate in many aspects,” he said. “It already is a very bicycle friendly community, but there’s always room for improvement.”
DeMoss said there are several ways to increase Sedalia’s chances to become a “Bicycle Friendly Community.” Club members have developed a plan to make it happen. They would like to have bicycle racks and possibly a bicycle lane through downtown included as part of the streetscape project.
They would also like to see “Share the Road” signs on state Routes M, U, TT and Y and strategically connected streets within the city, all of which are frequently biked. And, the addition of a bicycle lane on the “Share the Road” routes as roads are repaired.
“We fashioned our community action plan basically around that bicycle community award,” DeMoss said.
The award could speak to the quality of life in Sedalia, Norman said. New businesses often look at quality of life issues when deciding where to move companies, he said.
“We know cycling is a very popular sport, and we know it can’t hurt in” recruiting new businesses into town, he said.
The club meets at 7 p.m. the second Monday of each month at Fifth Street Brew Pub. For more information call DeMoss at 287-2848 or visit the club’s Web site www.bikesedalia.org.