By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
Birds are twittering. Temperatures are warming up. Wheels are turning. It’s time to break the bicycle out and get rolling. Madison County has loads of great bikeways and cycling inspiration.
Chuck Baden of Anderson’s Spoke and Wheel bicycle club said there’s something in his organization for everyone, with group rides to accommodate all levels of ability. One of those rides takes place every Wednesday evening when Spoke and Wheel riders meet up in the parking lot at Madison Park Church of God at Columbus Avenue and East 67th Street.
“We have ride leaders to help newcomers to the sport,” said Baden. Spoke and Wheels has about 80 members in the area. When the season’s in full swing, Baden noted, “20 to 30 will show up for any given ride.”
It was only 48 degrees for last week’s ride, but four hardy souls still showed up.
“Winter’s been so bad, people just want to get out,” said ride leader Dave Crandall, although he’s already got lots of miles under his belt this year.
“It’s fun. Some people like to work out and really ride hard. If I thought it was work, I wouldn’t do it,” said longtime Spoke and Wheel member Rex Upshaw. Upshaw rode up on his old Schwinn Premis, made in 1988, which was about the same time that the Spoke and Wheel club was established in Anderson.
“It’s rusty, trusty. I can ride it all year long. I can ride it in anything,” said Upshaw. It’s just one of Upshaw’s 17 bicycles, including one made of wood.
“I have epilepsy — that’s why I ride,” said Dan Murphy. A veteran of the club since the get-go and a former racer, Murphy said that riding is good for his health. “I’m on less medication than I would be normally.”
Fun, exercise, socializing, scenery and food seem to be the driving forces behind dedicated Spoke and Wheel members. Madison County makes good stomping grounds for them with a variety of routes and bikeways.
Baden encourages people interested in bicycling to check out the club. It offers a number of different, local weekly rides. Monday brunch rides set out at a leisurely pace from Kmart north at 9 a.m. Tuesday night, there’s a training ride for racers that meets up at Edgewood Elementary School. Also on Tuesdays, some Spoke and Wheel members meet up at the Madison Park Church to ride with the church’s group of cyclists. On Saturdays, the club explores a wider range of territory.
“There’s a lot of cycling to discover in Central Indiana,” said Baden. That might be something like the Cardinal Greenway rail trail or a visit to Brown County. The cyclists enjoy keeping themselves fueled up as part of the experience.
“Ride to eat, and eat to ride,” laughed several members of the Spoke and Wheel.
There’s really only one requirement for Spoke and Wheel riders — wear a helmet.
“We’re very safety conscious,” said Baden.”
For a better riding experience, Baden also urges, “Make sure your bike fits. ... If it doesn’t fit correctly, riding will be a chore.” Baden said new riders can get advice when they meet up at the Wednesday night ride.
Whether you ride with a group like Spoke and Wheel, or set off on your own, you may want to take your bicycle in for a tune-up after you’ve taken it out and dusted it off.
“Make sure everything’s safe on the bike,” said Greg Wooten, owner of the Bicycle Depot, 5107 Columbus Avenue, in Anderson.
The typical tune-up at his bicycle repair shop involves adjusting the gears, the brakes, and the bearings, as well as truing the wheels and tightening up all the nuts and bolts.