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Wheelmen Try to Offer Something for Every Cyclist

March 11, 1993|RICK VANDERKNYFF | Rick VanderKnyff is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition. and

Orange County Wheelmen, the county's biggest cycling club, is trying to expand its membership by appealing to every segment of the biking contingent. There's a mountain bike club, a tandem club and a racing team. Weekly group rides range from 15-mile spins to rides of 60 miles and more; there's also a monthly group ride for beginners (the first Sunday of each month).

The Wheelmen club is also expanding the range of distances in its big group rides, such as the Spring Surprise on Sunday. The ride was originally billed as a metric and half-metric century--rides of 100 and 50 kilometers (64 and 32 miles). Now, a 45-mile ride has been added, with the other two distances changed slightly (to 63 and 33 miles).

"We're sort of an all-service club now," said KarroLynn Yells, events chairwoman. She admits the name Spring Surprise was selected because the routes hadn't been chosen by the time the club's March newsletter went to press. The event, which is not a race, starts at Yorba Regional Park in Anaheim.

The two longer rides will reach Lake Mathews in Riverside County south of Corona, with the 63-mile ride looping around the lake. Both rides include some hills, with the longer ride especially suited for riders with "a little more experience, or used to doing a lot of hills," Yells said.

Beginners will find the 33-mile course flatter and the pace less strenuous. It also heads east from Yorba Park, although not as far as Lake Mathews.

For riders who have been riding on their own or with friends, it offers a good introduction to group riding, Yells said.

All the rides pass through semirural "cow country," as Yells describes it. "It gives you a chance to see a little of the world" outside Orange County, she said.

The spring ride is being resurrected after being temporarily shelved last year. About 100 riders are expected to take part.

The club is also increasing the range of distances in its annual Tour of the Canyons, to be held May 8. Courses of 32, 64, 128 and 200 miles will be offered (the 200-mile course is one of five double centuries in Southern California that are part of the Triple Crown--ride any three, and you get a patch for your jersey commemorating your accomplishment).

Orange County Wheelmen also put on two of the most popular century (100-mile) events in Southern California: the grueling Ride Around the Bear on June 12, which climbs all the way to Big Bear and up to Onyx Summit at 8,443 feet, and the Amtrak Century on Sept. 18, a ride to San Diego and a trip back on the train.

The Big Bear ride (experienced riders only) has drawn as many as 500 cyclists; the Amtrak event has attracted 750 riders.

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