A little over a year ago I noticed a new page on Facebook: Eugene Velo. It had the usual suspects and good dialogue about cycling, so I joined. Several weeks ago the discussions went in the direction of a full blown bicycle club. Curiosity got the best of me, so I contacted the organizer, Steve Lamper and we sat down for a one on one to find who, what, where, when, why and how. Following is Steve’s response:
Thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself and the story of how and why Eugene Velo has formed. First, I want to offer a warm hello to all bicyclists in the southern Willamette Valley. My name is Steve Lamper. I’m 50 years old, and like a lot people I discovered cycling after dabbling with many other sports. In college I was an exercise science major and became a personal trainer for my first 4 years out of college. I was an instructor of taekwondo and 3rd degree black belt for 15 years of my early adulthood. Now I am the owner of Affordable Insurance Solutions in Eugene. Cycling became a more important part of my life 8 years ago. Dividing my life between Portland and Eugene when I bought my insurance agency in Springfield in 2005, I biked for fun and fitness in both towns.
I found inspiration for more involvement in cycling from the relationships that I developed in the nurturing atmosphere within the Portland Velo cycling club. The people in Portland Velo taught me so much about the essentials of cycling, about riding effectively in a group, about cycling club culture, training, advocating and encouraging; I felt compelled to become one of their club sponsors and ride leaders. As my cycling skills and ties with the club developed over the years, I began to realize how much better the biking terrain in Eugene is. You know, we really are in cycling paradise here. What’s missing is the feeling of belonging to a group that really fits the level of biking at which I ride. I think that’s true for a lot of us, don’t you? I have learned that I do not want to race, but I do want to ride with a well-organized group of riders at my skill and strength level who share in my passion. I know I’m not alone, because Portland Velo successfully follows this concept with over 500 active members.
With this seed of this idea sprouting in my mind, it became clear to me that the biking community is fractured between bike shop teams, the Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARs) and a few other small groups. I tried some GEARs rides and found that they were great for the slower riders, but they didn’t have a ride that suited my skill and fitness level. Stronger riders and intermediate riders were left to fend for themselves. I stumbled upon other groups that seemed to exclude outsiders like me. I have a different vision. I want to create that warm and welcoming sense of belonging to a broad spectrum of riders and abilities.
In 2010 I started researching the idea of modeling a Eugene Cycling club after Portland Velo’s superb example, never certain if I’d have an opportunity. I reached out to a lot of people with deep roots in the local biking community who echoed my observations, and I realized that opportunities are what we make for ourselves. In October of 2014 I clipped my cleats firmly into the pedals by forming the Eugene Velo Facebook Group. It grew rapidly to 300 people in a few days and is now followed by over 500. The EV Facebook page introduced me to even more big names in this town, further inspiring me.
When 2015 drew to a close I saw that to make this club a reality, I had to get busy. I built the framework, formed a non-profit, invested my own time and money and in the process developed some really great friendships and secured club sponsors. I’m pleased to say we have a website up with our mission statement, our rider ability segments defined, a community ride calendar, route maps and more- it’s growing! We’re getting member signups daily, and we even have great looking club kits available. It seems that that the further we take this club concept, the more support appears. The enthusiasm and feedback we’ve gotten so far has been extraordinarily gratifying.
Eugene Velo welcomes you whether you’re already part of another club or team, or have no affiliation at all. Eugene Velo will support this community’s well-established clubs and teams by promoting all rides and events in one unifying, user-friendly place. Because EV’s Facebook group had no calendar capability, I developed a webpage where people can see all of the regular weekly rides as well as annual traditional rides, races and special events for road, cyclocross, gravel, mountain, and more. We strive to post every kind of cycling event on our community cycling calendar. In addition to the Southern Willamette Valley’s established rides, we are excited to post our very own scheduled Eugene Velo rides, and you don’t even have to be a member to ride with us.
As Eugene Velo develops, our small board of directors and I vow to stay open-minded, with a steady hand on the handlebars as we steer in the direction that is consistent with our mission. We plan on expanding to include gravel and mountain rides as well as some special destination rides and some unexpected surprises. We’ll grow the club modestly with an eye to engendering mutual support and friendship with this area’s other great clubs and teams. As we keep the pedals turning together we will discover where this road leads. I invite you all to grab your bike and join us. Let’s ride!
Eugene Velo annual membership is $20/yr. EV can be found on the web at Eugenevelo.org and on Facebook- just type Eugene Velo in your search bar.