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Living better on two wheels: Cycle Stratford celebrating 10 years

Members of Cycle Stratford.

Cycle Stratford has enjoyed some "good growth" over the years, attracting cyclists with different abilities and from all walks of life. 

Pete McDonnell, VP of Cycle Stratford's governing board, said offering a variety of distances at group rides and encouragement for beginners and veterans alike is one of the keys to a steady climb in membership over the club's 10 years in the Festival City. 

The club offers Sunday morning 'Town Tourers' and 'Country Cruisers', with 15-25 km and 30-40 km rides, respectively. A longer ride, 'Further Afielders', travels 40-60 km to start the week. All of the rides start at 9 a.m. at Market Square. 

The club also offers a mid-week Wednesday group and a social ride, or "Thursday Thursday", as its affectionately known, which includes beverages afterwards. 

"In terms of inclusion we do the best we can," said McDonnell. "You obviously need a bike and the ability to ride it but aside from that, we offer no-drop rides, if someone can't keep up with the group, we will stick with them to ensure they finish the ride and offer some guidance. We welcome people with E-bikes, if they find that helps them achieve some of the distances they want to achieve that is fine as well."

That inclusivity to all has helped the club grow to about 70 members from a small initial group of 13 that got the pedals going back in 2013. McDonnell said the club advocates for cycling and cycling infrastructure in the city, and the club has contributed to the City of Stratford's transportation master plan. 

To mark the 10th anniversary, the club has a couple of initiatives that they are focusing on, including a Summer Cycling Challenge that started earlier in the summer and goes until the end of September. 

“We wanted to offer a fun and motivating activity for our members,” said Jennifer Nickel, board president. “By offering four participation challenges, members who have different riding styles and schedules can sign up for whatever interests them.”

Cycle Stratford plans to host their anniversary celebration at Jobsite Brewing Company on Oct. 15, where challenge prizes will be awarded.

“We usually come together for an end-of-season gathering, but this year we have something special to celebrate as well," Nickel said. 

The club are also seeking sponsorship. While they are always looking for help with ongoing costs, the club wants to offer a new cycling jersey for members. The club is overdue for a riding jersey update, McDonnell said. 

"It has been quite a number of years since we have had a Cycle Stratford jersey. We are looking to refresh that, get a new one out with a bold and noticeable design. We still have members wearing the last jersey, so that one-time sponsorship offers a multi-year return on investment. You will get a lot of visibility with the logo if you wish to sponsor the jersey."

You can find out more about the club, different options for riders and other information here:

Cycle Stratford members on a recent ride. (contributed photo)