By Connor Beach
Springtime on the North Shore of Long Island brings warm weather and beautiful views of historic towns and pristine hills, and what better way to experience the sights, sounds and smells of Long Island than from the seat of a bicycle.
Since 1982, the Huntington Bicycle Club has hosted organized bike rides every weekend. Originally founded by friends who wanted a structured group of cyclists to ride with, the club has grown to nearly 300 members with varying levels of ability.
Although many of the members are Huntington residents, HBC Board Member and Easy Ride Captain Dan Panzerbeck said cycling enthusiasts from Queens to the east end of Long Island come to Huntington to ride.
“There are plenty of beautiful places to ride,” Panzerbeck said. “Over the years we have developed routes that go through roads that are absolutely stunning.”
The HBC is not only for experienced riders who want to ride at a race pace for long distances, club vice-president and ride chairman John Greene said. The club hosts multiple rides each weekend that range from A, or very advanced, to B, C and even EZ Riders.
“A lot of our members are in the lower levels,” Greene said.
Panzerbeck said the EZ Riders, a program he initiated three years ago, is a great way for people to get started in the club who, like he was when he joined, might be a little out of shape.
“I thought there must be a lot of people out there like me who might be a little intimidated about the fancy bicycles and clothing,” Panzerbeck said. “If you’ve got a pair of wheels, a helmet and a spare tire, then you can ride with us.”
The EZ Riders start out traveling about eight miles at eight miles per hour, a pace Panzerbeck said almost anyone can keep up with. After just a couple of weeks many riders are able to progress into a C group.
“They can ride on anything they have whether it be a mountain bike or a hybrid bike. The EZ rides are very non-judgmental,” Greene said.
An experienced club member serves as the ride leader for every ride, and besides choosing the best routes down less traveled roads, they also offer tips and provide an important level of safety, especially for newer riders.
C ride captain Susan Farren said bike riding is a great way to get fit without stress that activities like running can put on your joints, and, like anything else “you get out of it what you put in.”
Farren said main ride season starts in April and usually wraps up around the end of November, and the HBC holds its major fundraiser the Gold Coast Tour on July 15 in the heart of the season.
The majority of the club’s ride leave from the parking lot on Smith Street in Greenlawn, and you can find a ride there every Saturday, Sunday and holiday morning.
Farren, Greene and Panzerbeck all agreed that, whatever your reason for joining the club, it’s the camaraderie that will keep you coming back week after week.
Anyone interested in learning more about the club can attend the 7:30 p.m., May 23 information meeting at the Harborfields Library or visit their website at Hbcli.org.