Welcome to the first Club of the Month article of 2013!  This month, we’re highlighting a group of cycling enthusiasts from Encanterra.  Read on to get to know our latest Club of the Month, the Encanterra Cycling Club, through the following interview with Club President Dan Strandberg.

Dan, thank you for taking the time to share the story of the Encanterra Cycling Club with us! 

This is one of the newer clubs at the Encanterra community.  What inspired you to start this club?

We formed the club in August of 2012.  A couple of us had been riding informally all summer, and we thought this would be a good way to meet others within the community.  We had an idea that there was some interest in a casual ride, but also wanted to find other like-minded enthusiasts. I belong to a large bike club in Phoenix, which has weekly rides (road rides) that cater to most abilities.  This club offers two options for each ride – a shorter ride around 25 miles and a longer option of 40+ miles.  They always begin at the same time and finish at a local stop for breakfast.  The best part about this group is the camaraderie, and I envisioned that our club here at Encanterra could someday be similar.

Can you tell us how you went about forming the Encanterra Cycling Club?

During our weekday rides, Dean Lucke, Steve Hunt and I would chat about how to promote riding and get more members involved.  Then I took our idea to Sara Rainey, the Member Activities Manager at the Club, and the Cycling Club was born.  Sara and her staff have been great about helping us get the word out to the membership and promote our group.

Our community is very diverse, which leads to some interesting challenges in starting any new club, as expectations of all who participate are just as diverse.  I recently read a great book titled Bike Tribes, authored by Mike Magnuson, which I recommend to anyone who rides a bike.  The book has given me some insight as to how to structure rides based on expectations of others.

What is the mission of the Cycling Club?

Our mission is quite simple: to promote enjoyment of biking both within the community and beyond its borders.  We also have a goal of providing awareness of bike safety and proper fitting of the bike.  But at the end of the day, it’s all about having fun and enjoying the company of like-minded people in the great outdoors.

How many members are involved with the Encanterra Cycling Club?

Since we started the club, we have been averaging 18 – 24 riders each Sunday morning.  We would like to get more participation both on the Sunday ride and for our weekday rides (for the road bike enthusiasts of the community).  We are always open to suggestions to improve the club.  It is an ongoing process, and we are always looking for ways to improve the members’ experience.

I understand that cyclists with any kind of bike (mountain, road, cruiser, etc.) are welcome in your club. Are cyclists of all ability/experience levels also welcome to join the club?

Yes, all types of bikes are welcome.  In fact, most of those who participate in our weekly community ride have “beach cruisers” or hybrid mountain bikes.  Any kind of bike is great for getting around the community, but riding “outside the gates” of the community requires a hybrid (with 700 series wheels) or a road bike.

We welcome all adult members of all levels of ability and/or experience; we do discourage children/grandchildren on the rides. As to the range of ability within the club, most of the members come for the camaraderie and to enjoy a fun ride around the community.  There are also a few of us who want to go faster and farther.

Your club has been gathering weekly for community rides, both around the neighborhood and trails of Encanterra, and “outside the gates” of the community.  What is the format of these weekly rides?

The community ride starts at the fountain at the courtyard entrance of the club house each Sunday.  Our set time to meet in the winter is 10:00am, and we plan two different levels of rides for each week.  Both rides travel in groups on a pre-determined course.  A typical inside-community ride is between 8 and 10 miles, while the “outside the gate” rides are 14 to 25 miles.  Those who participate in the weekly ride inside the community are a great, laid-back group of folks who just want to enjoy the day and ride around the “hood.”   I’m very grateful to my wife Geri and to Joy Feldman, as they have taken on the roles of ride leaders for the inside-community rides.  Without them, it would be difficult to coordinate multiple rides on Sundays.

In addition to the community rides each Sunday, some members of the Cycling Club also meet for longer rides during the week.  Can you tell us a bit about these rides?

Those of us who ride during the week are all “road bikers” with a moderate (or higher) level of ability.  We typically ride 25 to 40 miles, with one stop at a halfway point to enjoy a cup of coffee.  None of us are serious mountain bikers (yet), but San Tan Regional Park is just 20 minuets away by car and it has some great trails to ride.  There is also the option to head up to Fountain Hills and ride the trails at McDowell Mountain, which is another mecca for mountain bike enthusiasts.  The routes for our mid-week, road bike rides are decided based on what we all want to do that day.  We normally head north and ride through the horse properties, or we may head south and loop around San Tan Regional Park, a route that we’ve named the “Bermuda Triangle.

Can you choose a few of your favorite rides to describe for us?

I think the most popular inside-community ride is the “tour de golf course.”  Encanterra is a gated golf course community, but many of our members do not golf and rarely get the opportunity to see the course.  So,  when the golf course is closed for maintenance or overseeding, management has given us the opportunity to ride the cart paths, which is a very peaceful and scenic ride.

The weekday “Bermuda Triangle” route is definitely a favorite “outside the gate” ride, as it takes us through neighboring communities, horse properties, and open desert.  This ride has some good elevation changes and a great downhill stretch of 2 miles where we can get our speed up, and that can be exciting.  Another ride we did this past year was our after-Thanksgiving ride.  Again, this was a road bike ride that we planned for “Black Friday.”  It was a 40-mile loop to the south of Encanterra, and it helped us to work off our great Thanksgiving turkey dinners.

What do you recommend that members bring along with them on a ride?  

We live in the desert, so I recommend that everyone brings water to stay hydrated, and of course a helmet is always preferred.  Any “outside the gate” riders must have an approved helmet, and they should also have some skills in riding on the open roads and/or in group riding.  I would also suggest that the road bikers have a spare inner tube, a pump, and a few dollars for the unexpected.

Do Encanterra members have to officially join the Encanterra Cycling Club in order to join you for rides?

No, all are welcome to join us.  We just ask members to provide us with their email address so that we can keep them posted about upcoming rides.

How can members join the Encanterra Cycling Club?  Who should they contact for more information?

Anyone can join the Encanterra Cycling Club simply by showing up for our Sunday community rides.  Any questions should be directed to Dan Strandberg at dps1952@gmail.com or to Sara Rainey at sara.rainey@encanterra.com.

Thanks for taking the time to share the story of your club with us, Dan!