I took the opportunity to do an email interview with Stan Schultz – who describes himself as Cycle Folsom’s “Chief Evangelist” on the groups Meetup site. Here is what Stan had to say in response to my questions:
JustAnotherCyclist (JAC): What is the focus of Cycle Folsom?
Stan: Short Answer: Cycle Folsom exists to provide an environment where cyclists can improve their cycling skills, strength and endurance through intelligent training and nutrition.
Long Answer: Our slogan “Great Cycling Starts Here” serves as the guiding principal of Cycle Folsom’s efforts in three distinct, but complementary ways:
1. Great Cycling Starts Here—in the City of Folsom: Downtown Folsom provides direct access to the American River Trail and the more than 100 miles of interconnected paved bike trails stretched throughout the town, and all the way to Discovery Park in Sacramento. Newer riders will find both solace and a moderate challenge along the trail that surrounds Lake Natoma and continues to Discovery Park. Seasoned cyclists seeking hills can string together short, but very challenging hill rides within Folsom, or venture through adjoining towns for additional spectacular scenery and rural roads. Folsom has held the distinction of being a “Bike-Friendly City” for years, and continues to invest in bike paths and commuting conveniences.
2. Great Cycling Starts Here—in the Cycle Folsom Group: Cycle Folsom is structured with three distinct riding levels. As such, there is typically a group for any cyclist to join and to progress to as they improve their ability. Ride Leaders and Members are usually welcoming and full of encouragement, but their also pretty serious about improving their own fitness as they work to inspire themselves and others on rides.
3. Great Cycling Starts Here—within yourself: Just about anyone who makes a commitment to ride on a regular basis with Cycle Folsom—in addition to doing some regular training on their own—can become a better cyclist. As part of the Group, individuals benefit from the encouragement, inspiration, and challenges that others in the group share. Conversely, individuals benefit when they help others by giving encouragement, inspiration, and sharing the tips they’ve learned while on the trail. All of it helps with motivation and camaraderie—which helps to make it feel more like fun than a workout.
JAC: How many people are involved with Cycle Folsom?
Stan: Cycling Folsom currently has 11 active Ride Leaders, as well as 4 or 5 highly experienced and trained emeritus leaders who join rides on occasion and provide guidance and training to active ride leaders.
This year alone, Cycle Folsom’s E-Mail List has grown from about 60 members to over 230, with about 8 to 15 being added each week (and the growth seems to be accelerating). We’ve recently started using http://www.Meetup.com/cyclefolsom to manage our ride/event calendar, messaging, ratings, and social aspects of the group. In just over a week of going live publicly, our Meetup site Membership has grown to more than 50 Members. Based on the membership numbers of other groups in the area, I anticipate that our Meetup Membership will grow to more than 500 by this time next year.
JAC: Does Cycle Folsom have a place for riders of all levels?
Stan: First, I should clarify that Cycle Folsom is dedicated to Road Bikes for now, and for the foreseeable future. We have detailed descriptions of our various groups on our Web site [link mine], but I think it’s important to note that Cycle Folsom’s “official” minimum requirement would be cyclists who are reasonably fit and comfortable on their road bikes, but who may not have ever ridden with a Group.
Our Grupetto Group (for intro or re-entry riders) is dedicated to cyclists who are new to Group rides. These cyclists are typically interested in increasing their mileage and, ultimately, buidling a base that will help them tackle hills with greater ease. The Grupetto Group has a 12-week cycle of weekly rides that starts at around 25 miles and progresses to a distance of 60 miles. This is followed by an initiation to hill training. The Grupetto Group officially rides until Fall, but many Grupetto riders would then be prepared to join the slower-paced Fall and Winter training rides of the Peloton Group.
Our Peloton Group (advanced-beginner or intermediate) is geared toward cyclists who already have a reasonable level of experience riding in groups, and who are confident in their ability to ride on rural roads—sometimes with tight shoulders and traffic. The Peloton Group starts their season with base training in the Fall and Winter months, which typically includes long, steady distance rides, followed by hill training during the Spring months, followed by more training and various goal events and rides throughout the summer.
Our Performance Group (advanced-intermediate or advanced) is filled with cyclist who are usually very fit and committed to cycling as their primary form of exercise. Performance Group cyclists relish just about any flat or hill challenge they can find. Some Group members are part of racing teams and use Cycle Folsom to augment their training efforts. The Performance Group also trains year-round.
JAC: Does Cycle Folsom have regularly scheduled rides?
Stan: Ride Leaders from all three groups collectively post 3 to 4 weekend rides, and 3 regular weekday rides. The rides, complete with details, descriptions and links to route maps, are posted at Meetup.com.
JAC: What major events have Cycle Folsom riders ridden in this past year?
Stan: Cycle Folsom Members proudly participated in a variety of events this year, and many individuals achieved major cycling milestones such as the distinguished California Triple Crown. Members joined together as teams to ride in several charity events, including the Tour de Cure, the Livestrong Challenge, Ride for a Reason, and more. Other events included the Death Ride, Davis Double Century, and the Auburn Century. Many members in the group plan to cap off the season with Levi Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo in Santa Rosa.
JAC: So Cycle Folsom continues its riding activities during the winter months / off season?
Stan: Yes. Members of the Peloton Group continue training in Fall and Winter, doing mostly long, steady distance rides of 50 to 75 miles. The Groups often ride in rain and or reasonably high wind, but weather does sometime cancel or postpone rides. As a result of winter training, many of our members come into the Spring stronger than ever, having built a cumulative base on top of their previous year’s training and experience.
JAC: Does Cycle Folsom charge a Membership fee?
Stan: To this point, Cycle Folsom has been free and is completely volunteer-driven. Because we are expanding our outreach and services to members, I expect that we will soon create a mechanism that will allow CF to accept donations and sponsorships. While my goal for Cycle Folsom is to keep it free, we may ultimately begin charging a small Membership fee, or perhaps charge a Membership fee for access to certain premium information or services.