Looking to get out and enjoy the sights of your area? The Granite State Wheelmen Bicycling group provides an outlet for recreational riding and exercising. The organization has been around for 43 years and has plenty of experience to share.
Group organizer Dave Topham, took some time to chat with Around Concord about the group, fun memories and how to get involved.
Around Concord: Tell us a little about the GranitebrState Wheelmen Bicycling, what is the main draw that people reference?
Dave Topham: ThebrGSW was formed in July 1971 as a social and recreational adult bicycling clubbrwith the emphasis on enjoyable fun rides, not speed or distance. Regardless of profession, background, orbrsocial status, when on a bike we are all equal as the wind, hills, and terrainbrare the same for everyone. We watch outbrfor each other on rides, follow the rules of the road, and often meet forbrsnacks or refreshments after the rides. Almostbrall levels of rides are offered except no races or any type.
brAC: Is the group active year round? How does the experience change throughoutbrthe seasons?
Topham: Thebrprimary cycling season is April through October while some “winter rides” arebrscheduled with an eye on the weather. Some snowshoeing and cross-country skiing activities are scheduled in January andbrFebruary while other members pedal indoors on trainers or attend spinningbrclasses to stay in shape.
AC: What’s something people usually assume about the group? What do peoplebrusually assume that’s incorrect?
Topham: Somebrpeople assume GSW members are “die-hard” racing cyclists because most wearbrcycling clothes and may ride fairly expensive bicycles. In reality, members wear and ride what isbrcomfortable for them. Bike clothes are abrlot more practical, comfortable, and actually safer – because of the visibilitybrfactor – on longer rides. The bicycles shouldbrfit the type of ride the member want go on. A heavy bike might be fine for short rides or rail trails while abrlighter, higher performance bike is desired for distances over about 15brmiles. Some members will commonly ridebrover 100 miles in a day while others are content with 10 miles. It is just a matter of having fun.
AC: What is your personal favorite aspect of the group?
Topham: Exercisebroutdoors in nice weather, the social aspect of being with others of the samebrmindset, and enjoying quiet countryside without the noise, pollution, and costbrof burning fossil fuel. The efficiencybrof a bicycle is unparalleled, and pedaling is fun!
AC: What’s the funniest, strangest, most unusual thing people have asked you?
Topham: Ibrcould probably write a book based on what I’ve been asked in the past 43bryears! Here are a few.
- A call at 10 p.m. on a Friday night from anbrout-of-state cyclist at a Route 93 rest area asking where he could rent a redbrmountain bike at 9 a.m. the next morning – and the bike had to be red.
- Leading a short loop ride specified with onlybrright turns to have someone leave the group by taking a left, getting lost, andbrnot taking a cell phone or available map/cue sheet.
- Having my home phone number accidentallybrprinted on about 100,000 State of New Hampshire highway maps for info aboutbrbicycling. My phone – also my work phone – was very busy with calls day and night for about two years.
AC: Are there any recent or upcoming changes that people should know about -brresources, funding, legislation, development, etc.?
Topham: Recreationalbrcyclists may like to know of the progress being made on the network of railbrtrails around the state. Many people,brespecially families with kids, want to ride in places that are away frombrmotorists and on nearly level terrain. Over 50 rail trails around the state, some connected, some paved, othersbr“in the woods”, offer the opportunity to get away from motorists. Rail trail advocates are pushing to completebrthe 120-mile Granite State Rail Trail “backbone” from Lebanon through Concord,brManchester, and Salem right to Lawrence MA. Approximately 60 percent is completed now, the longest section being 58 milesbrfrom Boscawen to Lebanon on the Northern Rail Trail. Several sections south of Manchester are pavedbrwith the most popular trails in Windham and Derry. See the BWA-NH web site rail trail pages forbrmore info: BWANH.org (Seebrthe BWA section for funding, legislation, etc.)
AC: Anything else we should know about you, the group, how people can getbrinvolved, etc.?
Topham: Anyonebr18 and older is welcome to try our rides before becoming a member. Limited ride details appear on the GSW webbrsite GraniteStateWheelmen.org and our Meetup calendar, but complete ridesbrdetails and a sample e-newsletter will be sent upon request via email sentbrto GSW-Office@comcast.net.
Forbronly $15 a year, members receive the emailed newsletter with ride schedule,br10 percent discount on bike parts, accessories, and clothing at many local bike shops,brand have supplemental accident insurance – not that we want anyone to usebrit. A printed and mailed paper bi-monthlybrnewsletter is also available for $25 a year for those who don’t want thebremailed version.
Thebreasiest way to become a GSW member is to visit our web site and “pay bybrplastic.” Optionally, the web sitebrallows an application form to be printed then sent with a check to the clubbraddress of 215 South Broadway # 216, Salem, NH 03079. I volunteer my time to maintain the GSW office. Contact me at 603-898-5479.
Do you or someone you know participate in this group? Share your photos and experiences in the comments below. Contact us if you are a part of a different group and would like to be featured.