by Don Felice
Niagara Freewheelers Bicycle Touring Club has been pedaling across town since 1991 when Virginia and Bill Stewart founded the bike club. Now, more than 20 years later, with more than 300 rides scheduled a year and a member base close to 300, it's obvious on this club's direction.
The NFBTC's purpose is to promote and encourage recreation and utilitarian bicycling, primarily in and around the Niagara Region. "To educate our members directly on safety and technical manners as well as the legal side of riding safe," according to the club's literature. What's more, the NFBTC assists in the establishment and protection of the rights of cyclists.
The NFBTC's membership is about 65 percent male and 35 percent female riders. The age of a typical rider ranges from 55 to 70, with the most experienced at a young 91. When the club members set out to ride, they go in groups based on an average speed, which suits 10-year member Bernie Carreno of Youngstown just fine.
"It's a great type of riding, I'm not a racer," says Carreno. "Some of the rides on the back roads we go are places you can't imagine."
NFBTC's A group maintains average speeds in the 16- to 17-mph range, while B and C group members find a pace that best fits each rider's ability.
Most rides start in Canada, but Carreno will be the lead rider on Wednesday, May 15, when NFBTC comes to Lewiston for the Lewiston-Wilson Loop. The route is perhaps one of the most gorgeous scenic rides in all of upstate New York. Starting at Academy Park, the ride heads to the Lewiston bike path toward Creek Road to Youngstown-Wilson to Route 18, to Old Fort Niagara. Riders then proceed to Main Street with a stop at the Youngstown Diner for a delicious meal before the group rides along River Road back to Academy Park.
This is one ride I will be sure not to miss.
The Canada-based club is now seeking new members. Men and women can join for $25 per year. The NFBTC offers plenty of social rides, plus occasional weekend and specialty rides. Membership includes a great newsletter to keep members informed of everything fun that's happening.
For more information and an online membership application, visit www.thefreewheelers.com.