By Kate Agathon

Denver’s Original Bicycling Club

Denver’s Original Bicycling Club

By: Kate Agathon

For over a century, Denver’s bike-centric culture has been shaped by its unique bicycling clubs. This week’s newsletter features the Mile High City’s self-proclaimed “Original Bicycling Club”- The Denver Bicycle Touring Club (DBTC).

Discover how DBTC’s tenure, variety of recreational activities, and club member demographics make it more than your typical bicycling club.

For nearly 130 years, bicycling clubs have helped to shape Denver’s bike-centric culture. 

From the long-defunct Denver Wheel Club established in 1893, to the Highlands Cruiser Club founded in 2009, Denverites have always demonstrated a passion for socializing and sharing their love of riding on two wheels.

While bicycle clubs in Denver have come and gone, one club in particular has established itself as a pillar in the local bike scene for the past several decades- The Denver Bicycle Touring Club (DBTC).

With over four hundred members (many of whom are over the age of 50), the DBTC offers rides for all ability levels and interests.

For example, some club members have never ridden a bike before, while others look forward to challenging rides such as Vail Pass.

Additionally, many other DBTC members are just seeking fellow bicyclists for leisurely (aka “smell the roses”) social rides around the city. With DBTC, there’s a ride for everyone.

denver bicycle touring club

More Than a Bicycling Club

Touted as THE original bicycling club still active in the Mile High City, the DBTC is far more than its name implies: it is a recreational non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers. 

“Realistically, we are a recreational club. We do non-cycling events such as picnics, out-of-town cycling trips, mountain bike rides, and more. Many of our rides are just fun; I led rides last summer where the goal was to ride to different ice cream shops in the area,” said Suzy Ward, DBTC board member.

In addition to sponsoring weekend and weekday rides, DBTC promotes recreational and commuter cycling, bike safety, and education. They also work with local governments to advocate for cyclists, and have also created a route map of Denver’s more than 150 miles of bike paths.

“Sometimes I think having the word ‘touring’ in the name prevents people from joining. I know it initially kept me away – I wasn’t looking for a ‘touring club’- even though I have done several tours,” Ward continued.

To her knowledge, there are not any other recreational clubs in the Denver area. While there are plenty of social meetup groups, they do not require membership dues, issue club jerseys, or provide insurance, she pointed out. And they certainly don’t have the tenure of DBTC.

DBTC’s unique, fun, and detail-oriented culture is evident in its newsletter and website. 

From publishing a meticulous list of organized rides in the region, providing trail condition updates, to announcing planned club rides, and making introductions to ride leaders, the DBTC newsletter serves as a considerable monthly resource for its members.

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The Club for Everyone Else

One of DBTC’s hallmarks is that it makes bicycling accessible and enjoyable for all in a non-intimidating environment.

Interested in a leisure ride around the city to just see the sights? How about a ride where ice cream is the sole objective? 

DBTC not only aspires to be a source of information to all of its diverse club members, it also actively practices a culture of encouragement.

Each club ride is broken down by pace, terrain, distance, and quadrant of the city- making it easy for club members to determine which ride is a best fit.

Perhaps most notable is the club’s own introduction to Lookout Mountain ride, called “Progressive Lookout Challenge” in which the demanding hill climb is broken up into segments and riding is done at one’s own pace.

Another unique aspect of DBTC is that club members ride a variety of bikes on sponsored rides: fitness bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, e-bikes, etc. In the DBTC, there’s no pressure to ride fast, or have a certain type of bike to fit in.

“It (DBTC) is really a true recreation club! Some of the bikes are quite vintage with old school shifting and rim brakes. It’s a club for everybody!” Ward enthused.

One of DBTC’s most recent members is Stan McCullom, who is fairly new to cycling

denver bicycle touring club (3)

At 61, he embraced cycling as a way to potentially meet new people, support causes, and stay in shape (he recently had knee replacement surgery).

“I enjoy cycling very much! A lot of what compelled me to take up cycling was being able to ride for different charities like Stop Soldier Suicide, and the Great Cycle Challenge to raise money for kids with cancer,” said McCullom.

He found DBTC on Facebook, and realized it was just the bicycling club that he was looking for.

For me, it (joining DBTC) is more about the camaraderie of riding with a group, and a way for me to meet new people and be social. Previously, I rode on my own because I couldn’t keep up with others while riding in a group,” he explained.

By Kate Agathon, 

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