One alternative is to leave the car in the driveway and hop onto a bicycle. But where to go? And wouldn’t there be safety in numbers? That’s where the Delta Pedalers bicycle club comes in. For more than 15 years, the East County club has been sponsoring bike rides, mostly in this area but also in other scenic parts of the Bay Area.
“It’s more of a riding and social club,” said Delta Pedalers President Steve Diputado, who joined three years ago to help lose weight and get in shape to deal with diabetes. “We are made up of a lot of different age groups. A lot of us are in our 50s. We have club rides three or four times a week. It’s a way to get people active and riding, the health and fun aspects of riding. From working with the group I became such a better cyclist – I couldn’t believe I could ride 100 miles. (It’s) because I was working with the group and getting a lot better on the bike. Riding with the group is a lot better than mostly riding by myself.”
It costs $20 for individuals to join ($25 for a family), but you don’t need to be a member to participate in a group ride – and there are many from which to choose.
Every Sunday morning the Pedalers meet at the Starbucks at Balfour Road and Fairview Avenue in Brentwood. “We ride to Discovery Bay and go to Los Vaqueros Dam and come back,” said Diputado. “That’s about 32 miles. We have two groups: a slower group and a fast group that go out on that day. We’ve been doing that Sunday ride for years. In the summer we run anywhere from five to 15 people.”
Every Monday evening the group meets at the Starbucks at Sand Creek Road and the Highway 4 Bypass in Brentwood. “We ride a loop in Brentwood,” said Diputado. “Down Shady Willow, Grant, Fairview to Trilogy and come back down and do a half loop back to Starbucks. It’s about 18 miles. We start at seven and it takes about an hour and a half. We have some beginner rides. We try to bring in people who have just started. They may be intimidated because they don’t have a road bike. But we wait for them; we don’t drop people. Some people don’t like riding in the street; that takes some getting used to.”
On Wednesday evenings, both road riders and mountain bikers meet at the Starbucks at Lone Tree Way and Bluerock Drive in Antioch. The mountain bikers ride around Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. The road ride is about 20 miles around Antioch, including Empire Mine Road, which is a three-mile rural road closed to auto traffic. “Those rides are geared more for moderate people – anyone can come out,” said Diputado.
Every Thursday evening through Aug. 26 the club holds a family ice cream ride, which starts at the Starbucks at Balfour Road and Fairview Avenue in Brentwood and ends up at an ice cream parlor.
On Saturdays the Pedalers carpool to various Bay Area locales, which they then explore on bikes, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Lafayette-Moraga Trail, Fuddruckers, Danville Farmers’ Market, the Ghiradelli Chocolate Festival, the American River Trail to Folsom and the Blue Angels. “We’ll ride and then eat at a restaurant at the end of the ride. Besides the riding, which helps healthwise, there’s also the socializing afterward, which is also a good thing too,” said Diputado.
More socializing takes place on the club’s annual camping trip, this year from July 29 through Aug. 1, where the riders hang out, go biking, swimming and boating at Spicer Reservoir, which is off of Highway 4 at an elevation of 6,000 feet.
For those reluctant to share the road with cars and trucks, there are also off-road rides on the Marsh Creek Trail and the Iron Horse trail in the Pleasanton/Walnut Creek area.
But it’s not as dangerous as it might seem to ride city streets, according to Diputado. “There’s always safety in numbers,” he said. “When people see a group of cyclists they are visible, and they will slow down. We stay in a single file and try to stay as close to the right side as possible, try to ride where there is a bike lane or a decent shoulder. I can’t say there’s not a danger there – you don’t know what motorists will do. I have not had an accident in the three years I’ve been riding. I have brought in a lot of beginners and a lot of women. At first they might not be used to it, but they stuck to it.”
In addition to bike riding, the 55 club members sponsor bicycle safety classes, advocate for more bike lanes, promote bike-to-work days and host the annual Tour de Starbucks.
While there’s room for all levels of riders and bikes, the more serious riders who do 100 miles or more a week usually invest in better bikes. A decent bike can be found in the $500-$1,000 range, and the high-end models run $1,500-$4,000. “The difference between a $500 road bike and $1,500 is huge,” said Diputado, who rides a 2005 Lemond. “If they are going to do a lot of riding and will put 100 miles a week on a bike, then you want a really good bike. The components will last a lot longer.”
He recommends test riding a variety of bikes at local bike shops, which each carry different brands, before buying. Some shops will provide a 10-percent discount to Delta Pedalers members.
“Come on out,” he said. “A lot of people say they want to try it. We have been at the farmers’ market, and people show interest in cycling. We have rides that can fit their skill level. They can get better as they go along.”
For more information, go online to www.deltaped.org.