OHIO VALLEY — Lester Ross has seen a reemerging interest in cycling in this region, and it’s something he would like to encourage.
With this in mind, Ross, an avid cyclist, began a Facebook group called VeloGallia, and has joined with Mason County resident Jodie Roush in an effort to get some “Share the Road” signs for both counties. He’d also like to raise awareness about laws regarding the relationship between motorists and pedestrians.
“A lot of people think that cyclists should ride on sidewalks and that isn’t true,” Ross said. “It’s actually dangerous. And lots of people aren’t aware that there’s a law that says drivers have to pass with no less than three feet between them and the cyclists.”
The idea for Velo Gallia was born after Ross returned from a cycling trip to California.
“I won a trip in a magazine sweepstakes,” Ross said. “They paid for me to go to Palm Springs and ride with the pro-cycling team.”
Ross said that he came back from that trip with much more enthusiasm and confidence.
“A while back there was a cycling club in the area, but it sort of faded away, and then a couple of years ago a handful of people got interested. Before I started the group it all seemed a little intimidating because there was a lot I didn’t know, but after my trip I came up with the idea of forming a Facebook group.”
Ross said that the group now has 129 members and counting, the majority of whom are based in Mason and Gallia Counties, although a few are from farther afield.
“There are some people from places like Virginia and North Carolina who maybe have ties in the area, and want to be able to join in with rides when they come here.”
Ross said that members use the Facebook group to find people with whom to ride, and to find out the appropriateness of different rides for their experience.
“People are able to share their levels of ability and that way figure out which kinds of rides they want to join,” Ross said.
Some members of the group, Ross said, train for and compete in tri- and duathlons.
“We have some people who are really competitive, and then we have people like me who just love to cycle,” Ross said. “Darren Smith is a duathlete. Cody Smith and Kenny Holley got involved with some Category 4 and 5 races. Brenda Scott and Chuck Angell are triathletes. These are people who are competing and training.”
Ross said that there are some serious riders who don’t compete at all, but ride long distances nonetheless.
“We have a member who rides an average of 19,000 miles a year. He’s already ridden 13,000 miles this year.”
Sometimes members travel to cycling-related charity events, or just to bicycle-friendly vacation spots.
“I’m going to do the cystic fibrosis ride in Dayton next week,” said Ross.
Ross said he and his wife often just load up the bikes in order to ride in a different place.
He added that he’d like to encourage people who are new to the sport to join the group and come out and ride with the more experienced riders. He said that members will teach newcomers to do basic maintenance on their bikes, such as change fix and change flat tires.
Getting outside in the fresh air and being active, said Ross, is always a good idea and it has a slow-growing but assured forward movement.
“There’s a trend of people starting get healthier in this area,” said Ross.