My name is Bruce Lederer. I am not a bicycle fanatic, nor am I a hard core rider. I abandoned my trusty Schwinn as soon as I could drive and didn’t ride again for many years. When I returned to riding, it was mostly the 15-minute rides to the station and back. I enjoyed riding but could never get it together to join anyone else’s ride. Part of this might have been concern that I wouldn’t fit in or be able to keep up with the other riders.
So, in 1998 I founded Bike Rides for Ordinary People to ride on my terms, cognizant that others might have similar insecurities.
The actual creation of the group came out of my work with my local bicycle advisory committee. While the committee’s work on advocacy, infrastructure and safety was and is vitally important, I really wanted to get more people out biking and not just on bike paths. At the time, I was living in Arlington, Massachusetts, home to the Minuteman Bike Path, one of the most successful bike paths in the country, so, there were a lot of casual riders nearby. I hoped to engage them in the idea of riding with others in places beyond the bike path.
It started with a signup sheet at the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee’s table at Arlington’s annual Town Day Celebration. We had two rides that fall with about 8 people on each. The riders were mostly inexperienced but quite enthusiastic. These rides were less than 20 mile and took the better part of the day because we would wait for everybody to catch up at turns and there was a lot of socializing whenever was stopped, And of course lunch at the end. But most importantly, they were fun.
Over the years, I switched from sign up sheets to emails and a listserv, added more rides and created a website.
More people joined the list and people came on rides. Riders became friends and a community formed. Our group is composed of young and old, new riders, riders getting back in the saddle and people who just like our casual pace. We still ride at the pace of the group, wait up whenever necessary and spend time socializing.
In 2003, my wife, Sandy, suggested that the two of us go on an organized tour in Europe. We did some research and discovered how expensive these tours are. Too expensive for us. So was born the idea of organizing a tour ourselves. Fortunately, I had experience organizing trips for our scout group to participate in international events. At least I wasn’t totally unprepared.
While researching possibilities, Sandy discovered Burgundy, France. It has great food, the best wines in the world and lots of great routes for cycling. This was the place for us.
On a cold wintery night siting around our living room with a few people who had express interest, it was decided that we would to do the tour in Burgundy. That first tour was a group of 8. The food, wine, scenery and cycling all exceeded our high expectations, it was a fun filled adventure.
We’ve run a tour almost every year since (we missed 2008 because of the recession and 2017 because we wanted to be around to help care for our 2 new grandchildren and their families). It’s always exciting finding new places to explore with a bunch of really nice people.
Cycle Massachusetts State Bike Tour
In 1998, the Bicycle Coalition of Massachusetts (MassBike) began organizing a State Bike Tour. I volunteered at the start and finish on its second year and witnessed just how much fun people had.
Regrettably, they were not able to continue after that year. Over time, I often thought about how sad it was that the tour ended.
In 2006, I decided to bring it back. Once again, peopled gathered in our home and we talked about it. While I had no experience with organizing or even participating in a large multi-day bicycle event, I decided to go forward with a 4-day event we name the Mass BikePike Tour.
On the first ride, I did virtually all the planning myself. Volunteers helped at the event, hosted rest stops, drove the route to assist rider and help serve dinner. We had a total 8 volunteers for 85 people. To say it was a bit disorganized would be an understatement. But almost everyone had a good time.
We continued; making it better each year, trying new things, listening to suggestions, improving, making people happy and getting lots of repeat riders. We assembled a talented volunteer organization with me as Tour Director; making sure that everything got done. We focused on fun and, correctly, called ourselves “The Friendliest Ride in the East”
In 2015, I decided it was time to expand the tour to 7 days and renamed it to the Cycle Massachusetts’ State Bike Tour. The idea was to make this an event that would bring people from all over the country to ride in our great state. I was able draw upon the experience of our great team of devoted and competent volunteers and add a few more.
I continued as Director through 2018. In 2019, I turned over the reins toa team of friendly, devoted and competent volunteer leaders who now run the ride.
2019 was my first opportunity to be a participant in Cycle Massachusetts and I it was a blast.
Being free of the responsibility of organizing a large tour has allowed me to take back spring and summer to do more riding, traveling, touring and even just kick back and relax a little.
So, the journey continues as I get back to way we started with community rides and running 1or two internationsl trips each year.
I hope you will join us on our journey.