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Club Spotlight: Boca Raton Bicycle Club
"Our riders are energetic; our event calendar boasts more than 10 rides per week; our ranks are swelling; and the pulse of the club is active and alive." That's how John Berman, MD, the president of the Boca Raton Bicycle Club, describes one of the largest cycling groups in Southern Florida. We checked in with him for our latest club spotlight and found out what's driving the evolution and excitement at the BRBC.
How and when was your club founded?
In 1986, three riders met for coffee before their ride. They rode 25 miles, finished their loop, returned to have breakfast. Over the ensuing three months "the ride" participants increased as did the length of the ride. One of the riders decided to organize the group, creating the Boca Raton Bicycle Club (BRBC).
What's the club's mission?
The Boca Raton Bicycle Club is dedicated to promoting cycling safety and greater awareness of the sport through club events and community activism. BRBC is a volunteer, non-profit club, with over 400 members. We organize social events and bicycle rides for all levels and abilities. Rides are held every day of the week throughout the year.
Who are your members?
We have an active and vibrant group of men and women, mostly between the ages of 40-65. The demographics of the club have been changing and it's had an energizing, positive influence on our club. Our new jersey and cycling kits combine safety and fashion, really catch the eye of both motorist and cyclists alike. We have superlative cyclists but many of our members are also excellent at helping new riders learn to be better cyclists. Our website is above average, but we also have a strong social media presence with Facebook and active STRAVAISTS who constantly safely battle for KOM segments.
What are some of your signature activities?
We have something for cyclists of all ages and all abilities — from casual cruisers to dashing racers. We have picnics, happy hours, and out-of-town cycling ventures, like the Dahlonega 6 GAP Century, Mount Dora Bicycle Festival, MSBike 2015, Tour de Force, and Tour de Forts, as well as the Delray Gran Fondo.
What's your signature event?
Our signature event is the Frank Stark Ride — “The Hottest Ride in Town" — which, this year, took place on July 12. Frank Stark was a member of the BRBC and a former airline pilot, forced to retire because of two heart attacks and a quadruple by-pass surgery. As part of his recovery, Frank took up cycling and celebrated his birthday by riding one mile for each year of his age.
"It was just me, the bike and the road," Frank said. "I wanted to see if I could do it."
Each year a few more friends from the club would join in and in recent years we have had as many as 700 riders. Frank ultimately succumbed to heart failure, so we continue this annual event in his honor. He would want us to keep riding for our health and for the fun of it. The proceeds from this unique ride benefit local, regional, and national bicycle advocacy groups.
What makes the BRBC distinct and unique?
The BRBC is the largest cycling club and advocacy group in Palm Beach County. There is strength in numbers and, as such, the BRBC is a voice that legislators, news media, local and regional government listen to.
We believe local, regional, and statewide political action committees are necessary to promote good, safe cycling — so we're involved with the League and Florida Bicycle Association, and volunteer on the Boca Raton City, Palm Beach City and Palm Beach County Road and Municipal Public Planning Boards to foster our goals for larger, more visible, and better bike lanes and pedestrian walkways promoting safe cycling.
What's been your biggest success over the past few years and what's your biggest goal for the near future?
Our biggest success has been invigorating BRBC with progressive and adaptive leadership, which has encouraged younger, energetic men and women to join the club. We have not forgotten our roots but we're pedaling faster, harder and safer than in years past. We have more female cyclists than ever before. Brighter colors, reflective clothing, smarter safer cycling — all are a part of this vibrant personality.
Our riders are energetic; our event calendar boasts more than 10 rides per week; our ranks are swelling; and the pulse of the club is active and alive.
So it's no surprise that our club is the club to join. The young, progressive, active spirit is contagious. There is a need and reason for our club. WE are a group of proactive, passionate cyclists who like to have fun — and I’m glad and proud to be president of this group. Cycle on!
Learn more about the Boca Raton Bike Club at http://www.bocaratonbicycleclub.com