/Adding fun to fitness
The Real Easy Ryders share a laugh before starting their route on May 6 in Minden. /EMILY STONEHOUSE staff

Adding fun to fitness

By Emily Stonehouse

If you are looking for a way to get to know the area, meet new people, and dive into exercise, then the Haliburton Real Easy Ryders Cycling Club may be for you. “We’re a social group,” LeAnn Cruz, the president of the organization, told the Times, “we’re all about fun and fitness.” 

The club was started in 1997, when a group of eight friends got together to explore the Haliburton Highlands. Fast forward 26 years, and there are over 130 members from all over the region. “Everyone is so supportive, so welcoming,” said Cruz, in reference to the many members. “We aren’t a serious racing club with high speed pace lines and time trials. We’re a super friendly group of riders who enjoy cycling.” 

The Easy Ryders ride on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday mornings, starting in early May, and wrapping up at the end of October. Cruz mentioned that even during the off-season, there are a dedicated group of riders who still ride indoors, and chat with one another via online apps as a way of keeping the momentum of the social group alive. 

While the group explores over 53 different routes around the region, each ride is a little bit different, ranging from 15 km to over 50. “We never get bored,” Cruz chuckled, “we are always exploring new routes, all the time.” 

Cruze noted that on Tuesday rides, the group rents a community centre in whichever community they are exploring that day, and enjoy a potluck lunch together. They also stop at restaurants, coffee shops, and parks along the way, so there are opportunities to explore the areas, and chat with other folks on  the ride. 

The Haliburton Real Easy Ryders Cycling Club is a not-for-profit, and it costs $40 for the membership. This amount covers the insurance for the organization, as well as the hall rentals for the social component of the group. This not-for-profit status recently earned the group access to the Local Initiatives Program (LIP) grant from HCDC, which they are using to put towards a new website, and increased social media presence. “We are always looking for new members,” said Cruz, “it doesn’t matter your riding or fitness ability, we offer different routes for everyone.” 

Safety is at the forefront for the organization, said Cruz. All riders must wear a helmet for the ride, and if they do not have a helmet, they are unable to join the ride that day. They also all wear high visibility outerwear, don lights and bells to their bikes, and carry a bike safety card with emergency numbers. Cruz said one of the main reasons people join social bike groups is for the added safety. “We have a ‘nobody gets left behind’ policy,” she said, “we always travel in groups, and look out for one another.” 

On top of the regular tours around the towns, the group also plans a series of getaways, which all members are welcome to join, including trips to Ganonoque, Ottawa, Gatineau, and Algonquin Park.  

As the riders geared up in the parking lot of the Minden Curling Club on May 5 for their second ride of the season, the energy was jovial and welcoming. That morning, a brand new member had joined the group, and they all took turns introducing themselves, and welcoming her to the team. 

For a sport that is traditionally designed as a solo activity, the Haliburton Real Easy Ryders Cycling Club has put a new spin on biking; combining fun, fitness, and friendship. 

For more information or to join the group, visit www.haliburtonrealeasyryders.com