Spoke Talk: We need more spokes
July 25, 2017
This column is titled Spoke Talk, and I'd like to talk about spokes this week.
Spokes hold the wheel together, and the tension on each of them also keeps the wheel "true," so it is straight, spins freely and doesn't pull to one side over the other.
Spokes also make the wheel stronger. Touring bikes and cargo bikes usually have wheels with more spokes, from 36 to 48 per wheel, due to the higher weight they carry. Lightweight road wheels may have 16 to 24 spokes, but each spoke is now under additional pressure and more prone to breaking. Once any spoke snaps, it places additional strain on the remaining spokes, so another break is even more likely. The wheel quickly loses its shape and becomes unusable.
When it comes to bike clubs, more spokes are better. Currently, Routt County Riders has six members on the board. Our monthly meetings may include six to 10 additional members or guests. We have two part-time administrative employees and 10 trail-building employees. We also have dedicated volunteers who attend trail workdays.
Last year, we recorded 72 trail work volunteers, some of whom worked more than one Saturday, to provide a total of 88 volunteer days. Those numbers may sound good, but the reality is that they aren't enough.
RCR is busily engaged in building new trails on Buffalo Pass, while maintaining much of our local existing singletrack, as well as advocating for better road and commuting conditions throughout the county. We are effectively riding a bike with 16-spoke lightweight road wheels over a rocky and rugged trail with lots of features. It's exciting, but we need more spokes.
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So, this is a plea for your active participation. We want all of you to be engaged, voting, volunteering members of Routt County Riders. We know you support local cycling. The enthusiastic response to our winter grooming fundraiser with Yampa Valley Bank was amazing
But, there's more you can do to advance cycling around Steamboat Springs. We need you to register as a club member, so we can actually count you as part of RCR. Our membership numbers are (conservatively) one-tenth of the people who bike in Routt County. We need you to come to the monthly meetings and tell us what you want to see from RCR.
And, most of all, we need your time. Volunteer at next year's Tour de Steamboat. Give up a few hours one week to build new trail or maintain some of our great existing rides. Join Partners in showing a child how to mountain bike later this year. There are plenty of opportunities, so come be one of the vital spokes in the Routt County cycling wheel.
Routt County Riders is the local source for grassroots advocacy and information for all types of cycling. Find the group at facebook.com/rcriders or routtcountyriders.org, or email rcriders@ routtcountyriders.org. Holly Weik is vice-president of Routt County Riders.