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Pedal pushers

Madison has two clubs
for area bicycle enthusiasts

The groups offers regular rides of various levels

By Michella Marino
Contributing Writer

(July 2006) – Indiana has long been known as a bicycle-friendly state, and in Madison, bicyclers are fortunate to now have two clubs offering rides at various levels – the Madison Area Bicycle Club (MABC) and the recently formed Big Ring Adventure Team (BRAT).

Biker

MABC is the older of the two. According to their website, “The Madison Area Bicycle Club is for those who enjoy bicycling in all its forms… A nice evening ride through Clifty Falls, the excitement of mountain biking, the challenge of long distance rides…or even the occasional tour to get away from it all.”
The MABC was formed in 1995 and today boasts 30 members, primarily adults. The club’s president, Tom Pritchard of Madison, said the club was created to “help promote cycling in the community and to bring together people with the same interests.”
The MABC has regularly scheduled rides on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday and tries to maintain a riding schedule of at least two to three rides per week from May to October.
For instance, the Thursday night ride, which is led by Pritchard, begins at the Rucker Sports Complex on the Madison hilltop and consists of a 20-mile route at a variable pace. Each night has designated cycling leaders and routes with the routes varying between 20-60 miles.
Besides these weekly rides, the MABC also holds several special events involving cycling throughout the year, such as the Stream Cliff ride they held this past spring. The cyclists rode out to Stream Cliff Herb Farm, where they dined at the Tea Room for lunch before riding home.
The club’s annual Madison Meander Ride, meanwhile, is scheduled for Aug. 19 and will consist of a 50-mile roundtrip ride at a leisurely pace. Pritchard said that the group generally keeps the same rides every year but does like to add and change things around a bit.
“We are open to new ideas, routes, and people. Right now, we’re looking for a new leisure ride leader,” he said.
Pritchard said his club is a positive attribute to the area because its is promoting bicycle riding to the community, along with offering a fun activity for visitors. The MABC provides those who enjoy the outdoors with a hobby, while helping to promote tourism and environmental issues such as clean air and saving money on gas.
The BRAT club, meanwhile, was founded by local cycling enthusiast Rich Ries. He helped found the Madison Area Bicycle Club and served as its president for four years but then took a two-year hiatus. In 2003, Ries started his own business from which the Big Ring Adventure Team stemmed. Unlike the MABC, the Big Ring Adventure Team is also a business owned and operated by Ries and his wife, Julie.
The Big Ring Adventure Team’s motto is “serious cyclists having serious fun.” Ries’ club serves a slightly different cyclist than the MABC. His club focuses on the middle-aged members – riders who are confident and want to improve their skills but want to enjoy their cycling as well. The club does not participate in racing as a group. The members of BRAT fluctuate between 50 to 60 people.
BRAT offers local rides every Monday and Wednesday evening starting at Lytle Park, at the corner of West and Third streets in Madison, and then also every weekend.
The club’s most popular rides are the Historic Indiana Country, of HIC, rides. “The HIC rides are laid back with a lot of joking around,” Ries explained.
BRAT offers other specialty rides, such as one where cyclists ride to Brown County, Ind., and are followed by family members in a passenger van who tag along to shop upon arrival. Along with offering specialized rides, BRAT and Ries offer bicycle training and seminars on such topics as mechanical repairs and bike skills.
Ries’ club has three main purposes: to help people become better cyclists; to provide a service to the community by reducing traffic and bettering the environment; and to promote health and fitness.
Both clubs have websites that provide information on everything they have to offer.

• For more information on the MABC, visit: www.madisonbicycleclub.com. Visit Ries’ BRAT club at: www.bigringadventure.com.

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