The club attracts a mix of avid cyclists, newbies, retirees, working folks and social cyclists from all over Ventura County.
by Mira Reverente
The allure of cycling and fitness brought members of the Channel Islands Bicycle Club together. Over 300-members strong, the club meets for rides every Saturday, usually at the Mission Park in Ventura.
“The length and route of the Saturday rides depend on the members’ time and availability,” says Margaret Mathews, public relations chair of the non-profit club. “Some would ride further if they’re training for long bike rides and races, but it’s always fun and social.”
The club attracts a mix of avid cyclists, social cyclists, newbies, retirees and working from all over Ventura County. “We like to promote the health aspect of cycling and highlight it as an alternative means of transportation,” says Mathews who joined the club about 10 years ago with her husband.
Beyond Saturday rides, the members advocate for safe streets, bike lanes and tirelessly work with government and non-profit agencies to advocate for bike safety.
Every year, on the 3rd weekend of August, the club also partners with the Kiwanis Club of Ventura to produce the Cool Breeze Century, which is going on its 26th year next summer. “It’s a really cool event with over 1,000 riders and a few hundred volunteers,” says Diane Stein, co-volunteer coordinator of the ride.
For the past five years, Stein has been coordinating the volunteers at the rest stops, ensuring that the rest stops are adequately staffed and riders have everything they need for a smooth and safe ride through Ventura, Ojai, Goleta and the coast.
Says Stein, “It’s a good problem to have but we’ve never had a shortage of volunteers. Both clubs pull their weight and then some. Several members also ride and volunteer or the other way around. It’s really a pleasure to put the event together due to this abundance of help.”
Proceeds from Cool Breeze go towards a grant program, to help Ventura public schools start bicycle safety programs for 6th grade students. Says Mathews, “We believe that teaching children at a young age to be safe cyclists will hopefully carry over and teach them to be safe drivers.”
The giving nature of members propels the club to seek other ways to make a positive impact in the community, such as their recent $20,000 donation to help construct the San Antonio Bridge from Ventura to Ojai, for both cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy. “I don’t believe there was a bridge there before,” says Mathews.
Their contributions to the environment are growing by leaps and bounds. The club is the first bicycle organization to adopt a bicycle path. The cleaning of the Emma Wood- Fertig bicycle path can also be attributed to them.
Through bike rodeos, the club partners with grassroots organization Bike Ventura to teach underserved children safe cycling and basic rules of the road. “It’s all over, not just one venue. We go to different venues and schools,” says Mathews.
At large bike rides and festivals, members volunteer as bike valets, helping riders safely store their bikes during registration or festivities.
Last year, they partnered with Giant Bikes and Bike Ventura, and distributed bikes to people affected by the Thomas Fire.
The Channel Islands Bicycle Club meets every second Wednesday of the month, starting at 6:30 pm, at the Museum of Ventura County, 100 E. Main St, Ventura.
For more information or to join: www.cibike.org.