With the invention of the motorcar, bicycle riding went out of vogue, but today, with more concern for exercise and ecology, cyclists of all ages are joining clubs and touring, racing and even biking up mountains.
Most clubs do not require joining in order to ride along, but membership offers extra benefits. "You can keep up your physical fitness, learn skills from more experienced riders and learn how to maintain equipment," Dave Carlson of the Human Powered Transit Assn. Inc. (HPTA) said.
HPTA, a nonprofit association, (213) 301-9777, promotes the use of bikes for transportation, gives clinics on commuter cycling to major employers and presents assemblies on safe bicycle handling to the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Free publications on biking events are available in many cycle shops and health and fitness establishments.
Subscription publications include California Bicyclist, (213) 478-2840, published monthly February through December, at $15 a year. City Sports magazine, (213) 827-4420, published monthly, is $13.95 a year. Both publications have Northern and Southern California editions.
Here are 10 bicycle clubs with which you can pedal along:
American Youth Hostel, San Diego Council, (619) 239-2644. A social organization with room for hard-riding cyclists, the group offers 50 rides a month, which include a beginner ride and a "Huff 'n' Puff" morning ride. Some long trips originate in Seattle and San Francisco. Membership, which is $20 for ages 18 to 59 and $10 for those 17 and under or 60 and over, entitles you to a directory and a card to use in hostels around the world.
Foothill Cycle Club, (714) 989-6192. More than 10 years old and based in San Gabriel Valley, this touring group cycles from Arcadia Park on Saturdays and Sundays. Starting times and locations vary. They usually stop for breakfast along the way. Evening rides start after 6:30 on Wednesdays from Pasadena. Membership numbers 300 and costs $8, $10 for a family. A bulletin and parties are offered.
Goleta Valley Cycle Club, (805) 964-3618. The group of 200 has bikers who tour up mountains; there is no racing. Rides are scheduled Saturdays or Sundays, 8 or 9 a.m. for beginning, intermediate and advanced cyclists. Destinations include Carpinteria, Oxnard and Santa Barbara. The Over the Hill Gang consists of retired people who bicycle on Thursday mornings. On overnight trips, bicyclists camp out. Dues are $6 for singles, $7 for couples, which entitle members to a newsletter and 10% discounts at some bike shops.
LAFD Cycle Club, (818) 790-0871. Organized in November, the 45-member group of firefighters and police recently opened its membership to everyone, including seniors and children. The group rides every morning; departures are from two locations in the Harbor area, two in San Fernando Valley, two at the Rose Bowl. They do touring, mountain bike riding and racing, and they make trips as far as San Diego and Solvang. Bicyclists who wish to join Saturday's 108-mile outing to San Diego meet at the Fullerton Amtrak Station at 6:30 a.m. There's no charge to take part in the ride, but there's a $21.50 fee to return with your bicycle from San Diego via Amtrak. Shorter treks are planned from Oceanside (75 miles) and Del Mar (92 miles). Dues are $30 per person, including social events.
Long Beach Velo Club, (213) 439-6091. This competitive-
cycling club pushes off at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday through Friday for members; non-members are welcome to join at 7:30 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Instructions on safety basics and how to ride with a group are given Saturdays. Departures are from Long Beach Cycle Sports, 5544 East 2nd Street, Long Beach. Members range in age from 12 to the 60s. Of its 90 members, half are serious racers. Dues of $125 include coaching by Robert Kahler--a member of the National Coaching Staff--clinics and picnics.
Los Angeles Wheelmen, (213) 225-2856. Founded in 1945, the group has 550 members. They depart Sundays at 9 a.m. from different locations and head for new places. Groups also meet Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and Sundays at 8 and 10 a.m. at Traveltown, Griffith Park. Dues are $10, which include a monthly schedule, potluck dinners and a Christmas party.
Orange County Wheelmen, (714) 956-BIKE for a recorded message. For the past 20 years, the club has been cycling from Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties. They often have 25 starting points for a membership close to 800. Primarily a touring group, the age range is 18 to the 70s. You can sign up for short, intermediate, medium or long rides that include the Wednesday Lunch Bunch and Tuesday-night rides, for which you need to bring lock, lights and dinner money. Membership is $15 for individuals, $18 for a family. You receive a newsletter and pay reduced prices at events.