Looking back on 2019 personally it felt like a ‘lost year’. You may recall that after a scary-dry early winter it started to dump buckets in January. Challenging weather notwithstanding I did a jillion miles anyway. But the rapid increase in mileage coupled with an aging body led to hamstring tendinopathy, which took three months of absolute rest to quiet. Then at the end of July I crashed and broke a collarbone taking another three months out of riding. But for Different Spokes it was the opposite: one positive step after another setting us up for, we hope, an even better 2020!
New Kit. Working quietly in the background our apparel maven Brian cranked out two new kits for at the start of 2019, a contemporary black motif and a polar opposite rainbow splash so eye blistering that even idiots texting behind the wheel will notice you. Then to close out the year Brian gets us windbreakers, tights, and bibknickers for this winter. Kudos, Brian!
New Website. Ho-hum, it’s so 2019 you say? Although the 2018 and 2019 boards both ushered in our new face, the heavy lifting was done by Nick Kovaleski and David Goldsmith, who did the design and set-up with able assistance from our previous longtime webmaster Jerome Thomere in the porting over of our resources from his website. Although still a work-in-progress, our website now has integrated communication, email, membership management, and calendaring making it much easier to stay in contact with all of you. Thanks Nick, David, and Jerome!
Saddle Challenge. The 18th Saddle Challenge last March started without a hitch but ended with a big surprise: Project Inform, the beneficiary, closed its doors leaving us with, well, a charity effort without a charity. The future of Saddle Challenge as a charity fundraiser is unclear—what do you think? I’ll follow up on this topic in a future ChainLetter article. We raised a modest sum of $244, which the participants generously agreed to donate to the club to purchase a one-year trial of an all-club RideWithGPS membership. Thanks, Saddle Challengers!
Pride Ride. The Pride Ride has had an up-and-down history. Back in the day we didn’t have a Pride Ride because we were too busy getting ready to march in the parade on Sunday. It was really only after we stopped marching and staffing a booth at Pride that the Ride came into being as a regular offering. Interest has waxed and waned (but mostly waned) perhaps due to the route varying in length and difficulty. But we now seem to have hit upon a ‘Goldilocks’ route—neither too long or difficult nor too short—and coupled with some basic publicity and auspicious weather really brought out the crowd: at least 27. It wasn’t just sheer number either; we had participants from around the Bay Area and three from London. Thanks to Sal Tavormina and David Gaus for leading!
Meet Up. We’d been eyeing Meet Up with some interest for a few years and this year we finally pulled the trigger and set up a DSSF Meet Up site as a six-month experiment in outreach. We had mixed success—we brought in a few members but hardly any MU folks came on club rides. Ginny Watson put a superb effort into setting up the site, communicating with members, and especially in leading Mellow Rides. Nonetheless we pulled the site in November after lackluster interest. Although Meet Up turned out not to be a compatible venue for us, it taught us a valuable lesson in whom we should be reaching out to. Thanks again to Ginny for her leadership and hard work!
Before Work Morning Rides. We have had Social A rides, an occasional mountain bike ride, after work rides, and a few years ago even a weekday series of rides for those who either don’t work or work nontraditional schedules. But we hadn’t had something that is actually a staple of the racing crowd: an early morning pre-work ride. Perhaps it’s because most Spokers can’t don’t get up early enough. Well, Ginny and David Goldsmith, both early risers, led a few this year and although they didn’t get a great turnout, they had great fun romping up the Headlands to blast the soot out of the carburators before getting on with the less important part of the day.
Return of the Getaway Weekend. The club has had a long history of weekend cycling trips starting with a self-supported four-day trip from San Francisco to Santa Cruz and back in 1982 (over Thanksgiving weekend no less!) But the popular trips were two- or three-day trips to Guerneville and Lake Tahoe and later, to Amador County where we don’t have to schlep our make-up kits and boudoir outfits in–eek!–panniers. Roger and I put together an easy weekend in Monterey with a house rental where the group could prepare meals together and hang out. Along with folks who drove down for the day we had a couple of great rides, a delicious group dinner, and interesting conversation. This year David Gaus is putting together another Amador County Weekend in early October.
Annual Picnic. After a big turnout in 2018 when Bill Knudsen moved the Picnic back to Golden Gate Park after more than 20 years elsewhere, we thought, “Well, why fool with success?” Only this year the weather didn’t cooperate—isn’t that the reason it moved out of the Park?—and we had a light turnout. But we did try something different this year, a sandwich bar instead of a grill, and people were very pleased. Maybe in 2020 we’ll look into a warmer location!
RideWithGPS. Santa came early this year for the club. After the Saddle Challenge riders donated their orphaned funds to the club, we splurged and got a one-year subscription for a RideWithGPS club account. That club subscription meant every member of Different Spokes would be able to use RideWithGPS as if they had a paid subscription so you all could create your own routes and post them to the DSSF RWGPS account in our club library. Having a club subscription also makes annotating rides with images, history, and notes easy in addition to providing the usual map, cue sheet, route profile, and points of interest. We all we have to do is teach members how to use this fantastic resource.
More Membership Meetings. The club has four annual events that constitute “member” meetings—the Kick-Off Meeting, the Picnic, the Fall Social, and the Holiday Party, which is the minimum required by our bylaws. The Orinda Pool Party could also be included in the count but it’s not one of the “official” club events. Then David Goldsmith decided to pull off an ad hoc meeting just for fun. Ari at Bespoke Cycles was enthusiastic about having the club come for an evening and thus was born a fifth membership meeting in 2019. Those who attended had a great time. Now we’re thinking about more membership meetings in 2020. Do you have an idea for a meeting, a venue and topic? Let us know! Member meetings are a chance to get together around cycling and socialize sans cycling drag. And thanks to David and Ari for putting on the show!
We Recruit. In a heartening development our membership number went up significantly. We started the year somewhere around 69 (appropriate, n’est-ce pas?) and now we’re at 95. We’re getting close to the number where the membership fees will actually pay off our regular bills. Although the Jock Sunday at the Lookout fundraiser was a success yet again, it would be nice not to have to depend on the kindness of strangers in order to stay solvent. If your membership expired on January 1, we hope you’ll look back on the great year you had with Different Spokes and renew your membership tout de suite!