Easy Street Recumbents

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This info is valid as of September of 2017.  We will do our best to keep this up to date.

There are two recumbent groups that we know of in Texas.  It seems like there should be more, and there may be.  You can find more rides going on through The Texas Recumbent Riders and their associated lists, and our shop calendar.  But if you want a local group in the traditional sense, here is what we know.

R-BENT, the Recumbent Bicycle Enthusiasts of North Texas – Based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  Best accessed through their online forum.  They have a few recurring rides, and other stuff as it comes up.  While riders abilities vary you can often count on finding some stronger and faster riders in these groups.  R-BENT also has a painfully antiquated and mostly neglected website which you’d do best to avoid since the info is so out of date.

The Eiffel Benders Lamar County Recumbent Club – Based in Paris, TX.  They post their upcoming rides on their Facebook page.  This is a casual, slow speed group that anyone can ride with.  This group is currently led by Susan Barackman, and she can be contacted at 903-785-5247, or by email

We’d love to see more here.  We’ve tried a couple of times to organize a riding group in the Austin area, but there are a few standard problems that we hit.

One is that there is such a wide range of abilities in recumbent riders.  You can find strong, fast riders in any kind of bike club, but you get many more older and slower riders in the recumbent culture, and it can be hard to organize events that appeal to everyone.  This also suggests a difficulty finding venues.  Not everyone likes riding on roads, and groups riding in traffic have challenges.  Austin doesn’t have a lot of trails, though there are a few.  If you like to ride 20 miles there aren’t any trails to accommodate.

Then there is just the matter of getting people to show up.  While many people are excited about the idea of someone scheduling rides, that doesn’t mean they actually show up.  Ride leaders tend to lose heart if nobody shows.  It isn’t that nobody is interested, but they have to actually attend in order to keep energy in the group.  San Antonio had an active group for several years, The River City ‘Bent Riders, with a website and weekly rides.  We were quite envious.  The founder of the group compiled a huge list of contacts from people who attended over the years, but in the end it was just the same few riders turning up, if that.  When the founder started to lose steam there was no one to take it up.  Such a bummer.

So what makes a recumbent group successful?  R-BENT has a lively forum, with a reliable corps of riders who chatter about their rides and give new members a chance to interact without having to take the initiative.  They have at least one reliable, monthly ride and a few places to hold it that will accommodate a variety of riders.  They seem to have enough people will to turn out to lead rides, and enough people willing to join in.  Why ride with company?  Why not ride alone?  There is some intangible in the camaraderie that makes people want to go back.  Then everyone goes home and chatters online.  I’m not saying this is the formula, but it keeps working for them.

While I can’t say for sure, I suspect that it takes more than a monthly “e-mail blast” to spur ridership.  People need more interaction outside of the ride.  You can’t just make an online forum like R-BENT has happen without some other ingredient, but I suspect that regular interaction between members lends to the success of their rides.

Personally, we’d like to see a stable recumbent riding club in every county in Texas.  As a shop with statewide reach we’d be thrilled to have places where interested prospective customers can meet with their peers, not just salesmen, and meet somewhere reasonably close by (by Texas standards).  We’d commit resources to helping, to publicizing rides, and working them in to our own events schedule.  But in the end it takes someone (not us) to lead it who really likes riding with others, and at least a few others who share that vision, and want to check out each other’s badass wheels.

 

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