Last summer, the FBC held its final ride, and I wrote that I looked forward to riding with whoever tried to fill the space left by its departure. A couple of groups started up in August. One of them is called The Swamp Ride.
Bradley Baysinger, the nominal leader, said he wanted to keep a full moon-associated bike ride on the calendar, so he decided to start a new bike club. Kate Burke, David Jones, and Paul Dillon joined in with him.
Kate wants the ride to become a place where cyclists can come together to enjoy a fun time. Paul would like to see it become self-sustainable as a group-organized event: “The Swamp Ride has a group of folks biting off different tasks, so it really helps when you have someone calling the establishment, doing the spoke cards, mapping the route, etc.,” he said. And therein lies one difference with The Swamp Ride. It’s a group effort.
“Our first couple of rides kind of sucked,” says Baysinger. The group’s lack of experience made for some school-of-hard-knocks lessons. For example, there was a last minute decision to go to a destination that turned out to be closed. Regardless, those showing up for the ride were forgiving, and the consistent attendance reflects plenty of interest. Since the first ride in August, The Swamp Ride has had 20-25 people each time.
I caught up with Baysinger and Jones at the January Swamp Ride. Although I resisted making comparisons with the FBC, I found that it couldn’t be helped. Even they were making them while talking about the ideas the group has for the ride. But that will fade with time as the group establishes itself.
They have some interesting ideas. To expand their ranks and include younger cyclists, they go to an all-ages destination. The ride begins at The Swamp Tavern, (1905 W. 5th Avenue, Spokane), which means those under 21 have to wait outside if they show up early for the 8 p.m. departure time. Baysinger and Jones are adamant about not allowing minors to drink at the ride.
They also collaborate with other cycling groups. The first Swamp Ride joined up with the TuNiBiRi (Tuesday Night Bike Ride) group. The October/Halloween ride was held in conjunction with the Fourth Friday Pub Peddlers (sic), which is another post-FBC startup. By the way, you can find TuNiBiRi and the Fourth Friday Pub Peddlers by searching for their names on Facebook.
Other goals and ideas – and they are open to ideas – include a daytime ride, a civilized version of a critical mass, not becoming cliquish, getting more prizes, establishing a web presence with an easy method for riders to share photos, promote cycling, and get more people to come out for the ride.
On this evening, the riders chipped in a donation to get a spoke card. We rolled out a little after eight and headed into Brown’s Addition. Any self-respecting bike ride going through Brown’s Addition pauses at the roundabout and circles it a few times. So we did. The riders, ages 19 to 59 and layered up to ward off the cold, continued on a tour of the neighborhood, and then we turned towards downtown. Grant Shipley, a familiar face at many local rides, cranked the tunes with a trailer-bound sound system he pulled with his uniquely modified 1961 Schwinn. We followed Riverside, Main, and Howard on our way to Riverfront Park. Along the way we stopped a couple times to let people catch up, which is necessary since the destination is a secret.
At the park we circled the Rotary Fountain decorated with cascading lights before going through downtown back towards Brown’s Addition. Wrapping up our 45-minute ride we turned south on Cedar and stopped at the River City Brewing Tap House where we were welcomed by Emily Schwartz, marketing and sales director. The two minors got their hands stamped and the group filled the place. Everyone received a raffle ticket and one more for each drink they ordered. And we all just hung out and enjoyed ourselves. Later in the evening numbers were called and winners received River City Red glasses. Pretty good for a free bike ride.
Check The Swamp Ride’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/swampride, for news of upcoming rides. If you’ve ever had an idea for a bike ride or if you would like to help out, Bradley, David, Kate, and Paul will welcome your assistance. If not, you’re still welcome to come out for a fun ride, hang out with some cyclists, and maybe have a beer or two. //