“Cycling is the most social of sports,” says Paul Rogen, a lifelong bicycle rider who knows well what he’s talking about. Rogen’s been pedaling two-wheelers for decades, not just around his home in Guilford, but throughout southern Connecticut. “Sometimes I enjoy riding by myself, but I especially like to get out there with fellow cyclists on group rides,” he explains. “While we certainly have to watch the road, ahead and behind us, on long rides we easily chat with each other. You’d be amazed the conversations you can have while zipping along at 20 miles an hour.”
You can find out for yourself this Sunday, April 17, when Zane’s Cycles in Branford hosts a group road bike ride. “It’s open to anyone who brings their own road bike and a helmet,” says Tom Girard, director of retail operations at the “world famous” bike shop. The group ride is part of the ongoing Bigger Wheel Sale at Zane’s, which continues throughout the month of April. Everything in stock—including an amazing line-up of road bikes in all prices ranges—is on sale at discounts up to 50%.
While some high-end racing bikes go for upwards of $10,000, Zane’s offers a wide range of much less-expensive models, some for around $1,000. The store carries bikes from top names such as Trek, Specialized, Raleigh and Pinarello. Of course, Zane’s offers mountain bikes, hybrids, beach cruisers and every other type of two-wheeler as well—even the newest rage, electric bikes.
“You don’t need to be an experienced cyclist to join a group ride,” says Bill Camenga, who’s tagged along with Rogen and friends on several mass jaunts over the past year. “But I can honestly say that I’ve become a much more skilled rider since I began riding with others. It takes concentration and good bike-handling skills to keep in a tight pack,” Camenga remarks, “but it comes pretty easily after one or two rides. Most of all, though, it’s just fun to get out there together. I like to call it ‘group ride therapy.’”
“I’ve met salespeople, police officers, doctors, teachers, contractors—you name it,” says Anne Sanowsky, herself a real estate agent who’s been riding with a couple of groups for several years. “We talk about work sometimes, but usually we’re just shooting the breeze about family, kids, what’s on TV—whatever. Oh, and we get some great exercise along the way, too.”
Ryan Pearson was on his college cycling team in Florida 10 years ago, then moved to Branford in 2015 for a new job. He was getting his road bike tuned up at Zane’s when he asked the mechanic if he knew of any group rides in the area. “He told me about three or four different ones,” recalls Pearson, who got on an email list and now participates in one or two rides most every week. “There are some stronger, younger riders like myself,” he says, “but also some older dudes, and we all find a comfortable pace.”
Rogen, approaching his septuagenarian birthday, is among the latter. “Groups allow us older riders to act and feel young,” says the lean, mean leader of many packs. “I’ve made some great pals over the years, and I know their whole family, up to four generations.”
Generating fun, camaraderie, health and cycling skill is what group riding is all about. So whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned pedal biker, get over to Zane’s on Sunday morning. The group ride will leave the shop at 10:00 a.m. for a 20-mile loop to the Guilford Green and back. “The forecast calls for a beautiful Spring day,” says Girard, “so the more the merrier.”
Zane’s is located at 330 Main Street in Branford. For more details about the group ride, the Bigger Wheel Sale, and directions to the store, call 203-488-3244 or visit their website, zanes.com.