SHERIDAN — They love to race, but they’re not a race club.
They love to grunt up singletrack, but they’re not a mountain club.
They love a baby blue cruiser with a basket on the front as much as a sleek road bike or a
If it’s a bike and someone is riding it and loving every second in the saddle, they’re in.
The Bomber Mountain Cycling Club is a club for people who love bicycling. It is a club for people who love bikes so much they just want to share the fun of riding them — be it as fast as they can in a time trial, as hard as they can in the Bighorn Mountains or as leisurely as they can in a group ride to get some beer, barbecue or ice cream.
“We’re not a race club. We’re not a mountain club. We just like to ride bikes,” founding member and Back Country Bicycles bike mechanic Jordan LeDuc said. “It really is a bike club for everybody.”
The Bomber Mountain Cycling Club hosts four weekly group rides — Trail Tuesday, Time Trial Wednesday, Road Bike Thursday and a Saturday morning any-bike-any-rider toodle around town — in addition to a once monthly business meeting that draws 20 to 30 members, includes networking and education and quite often ends up in, you guessed it, riding bicycles.
“The nice thing is, as a bike club, you don’t have to have a lot of structure; you can just go ride bikes,” LeDuc said.
So they do. The Bomber Mountain Cycling Club gets gangs of bikers together to hit the road as much as possible.
“It’s like those Harley groups,” founding member Kameron Condos said. “We’re the same, except our legs are moving the whole time.”
Two-wheeled dream, three-pronged approach
Last summer, the bike club was simply a group of friends who had bonded over cycling. They did some rides together and the group’s two-wheeled dream began to form.
Each friend had experience with bike clubs from Seattle to Vermont, and one avid cycler, Sarah Wallick, kept telling the group that they should form a club.
The idea snowballed and on Dec. 6, 2012, Bomber Mountain Cycling Club was born.
“It was something Sheridan needed,” Condos, an imaging technologist at Sheridan Memorial Hospital, said.
The club held monthly meetings through the winter, and by the third or fourth meeting, up to 30 members were attending along with representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, the Wellness Council of Sheridan County and other groups interested in partnering with Bomber Mountain, LeDuc said.
David Carter, founding member and administrator of Sheridan Surgical Center, said a few other bike clubs had been formed in Sheridan but had never lasted.
He felt this was due to a one-track mind focused solely on racing or mountain biking.
“Ours was different, and that was demonstrated by the diversity of the demographic that showed up to the meetings,” Carter said.
From day one, the club has strived to accomplish its mission statement — building community through bicycling — with a three-pronged approach that includes recreation, education and innovation.
A cycling club that starts in the middle of a Wyoming winter is forced to dream for a while (and maybe grab the skis while dreaming). However, the club could only talk for so long before members had to get out of doors and onto the road.
Recreation — in the form of myriad group rides — became a key prong to the club’s existence. A cycling club, after all, should cycle.
The first group ride ended up being a group of one on a frigid April morning.
“It was freezing cold, absolutely horrid weather,” member John Craft said.
But he wanted to ride, so he got bundled up and he rode. The event is commemorated with a photograph on the club’s Facebook page of Craft giving a cheery thumbs up at the Kendrick Park bandshell.
Craft and other club members were not dissuaded and group rides quickly became a weekly event, branching out to include road biking, mountain biking and biking just to bike. Group membership grew to more than 120 with cyclists coming from Buffalo, Story and Sheridan to ride.
“There’s a lot of cyclists around Sheridan. There’s just not a lot of unity — until now, hopefully,” Craft said.
At a recent Time Trial Wednesday, nine club members, including four first-timers, gathered at Big Horn Mercantile to ride 12.6 miles as fast as they possibly could in a race against themselves where the objective is to improve one’s time and get incrementally faster at each ride.
As the cyclists came whipping around a corner on State Highway 335, the Bighorn Mountains looming behind them, some pedaled hard, some cruised as they leaned into the corner, and all had a grin playing on their lips. They cheered each other in at the finish line and stood around afterwards, leaning on their bikes and reveling in the euphoric satisfaction of sailing on their beloved cycles.
“Cyclists get so much satisfaction out of this activity that they want to share it with people,” Carter said. “They think, ‘This is just too much fun to keep to myself.’”
As the Bomber Mountain Cycling Club has grown to include all levels and all ages, education has become another key prong.
Education happens organically on group rides and get togethers as members chat about techniques, gear, stories of success and/or failure and good places to ride.
The club is beginning to offer short sessions on various biking topics at monthly meetings. For example, the club meeting July 11 will include instruction on how to change a flat tire before the group does a casual ride around town.
As the club grows and its presence in Sheridan becomes more known, members also hope to have a broader influence, Carter said. They want to mentor youth riders to become leaders and athletes, and they want to educate the community about being a bike friendly community that works to provide a safe place and atmosphere for cyclists to ride.
Along that line, a few BMCC members are currently attending the Wyoming Pathways Wyoming Trails Summit in Casper to learn ways to foster planning, development and enjoyment of bicycle and pedestrian pathways around the state.
As renowned poet John Donne said, no man is an island. Similarly, no bike club is an island.
From its inception, Bomber Mountain Cycling Club has sought partnerships with a variety of agencies and entities around the region, making innovation its third key prong to attain its mission.
“We’re trying to prove our good will,” Condos said. “We want to give cycling more of a face in Sheridan.”
The club is currently working towards becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization while participating in biking endeavors around the community.
Club members were instrumental in helping the Sheridan Community Land Trust launch the opening of Soldier Ridge Trail this spring. Bomber Mountain bikers also spent National Trail Day last weekend moving brush, clearing limbs and building fords at the Cutler Nordic Trail area in partnership with the Bighorn National Forest and the Black Mountain Nordic Club.
Club members have spoken with Mayor Dave Kinskey and Parks Superintendent Chuck Carbert about how to make Sheridan a truly bike friendly town. There are talks about incorporating mountain bike trails into North Park as well as adding “soft” trails next to paved pathways.
“We live in an awesome community with a radius of about three miles,” Carter said. “In terms of being a community you can enjoy on a bicycle, we’re right at the top.”
With all the downhill momentum Bomber Mountain Cycling Club has gained in its last few months, it hopes to keep pushing Sheridan even closer to the top as a cycling town.
Doing so will be good for the economy since cyclists tend to travel to cycling destinations, of which Sheridan could be prime with its extensive pathway system, its access to mountain trails with yet untapped potential and its proximity to other cycling destinations along I-90 and I-25 such as Bozeman, Billings, Curt Gowdy State Park near Cheyenne and Fort Collins, Colo.
Doing so will also be good for the locals because, really, who doesn’t love to grab their favorite set of two wheels and race, grunt or toodle around with friends?