olumbus resident Lance Snider hops on his bicycle around 6 p.m. to ride 30 miles with about 80 people every Wednesday, then shares a meal with the group afterward.
That has been his Wednesday night summer routine for almost a decade now.
Snider became interested in sport biking as a teenager after his older cousin convinced him to ride. He competed in a couple races when he was younger and has ridden across the country a few times, as well. Now, the 58 year-old has spearheaded the Columbus Indiana Wednesday Night Road Bikers group.
“When I was in college, in the summers we would get a little biking group going to try to ride once a week,” Snider said. “But it would usually fall apart because of lack of communication.”
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Snider’s son introduced him to Facebook about eight years ago, and that was the birth of the Wednesday night bike group. The group held about 12 consistent riders for the couple of years, but has since grown to more than 1,100 Facebook members.
It all started with his wife Bianca Snider and a group of their friends. The evening would start at the Sniders’ house downtown before heading out for a 25- to 30-mile ride. The night would end with food prepared by Bianca to go along with a few beers and good conversation.
The event now has grown to about 100 riders every week. The small group began to spike when riders found themselves alongside a group of cyclists from the Columbus Cycling and Fitness store. Lance Snider offered to ride together, and the word spread from there.
Tracy Rea and her husband Brent ride with both groups. They’ve been with the Wednesday night cycling group for about three years now, and they also ride with the Columbus Cycling and Fitness crew every Monday. What Lance said he loves most about his cyclist group is the inclusiveness.
“The inclusion of people from all walks of life has been very enjoyable for me,” Lance Snider said. “It has allowed me to meet people I wouldn’t normally meet in my daily routine. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at the kindness of our group overall toward one another.”
Mary Ann Pacheco said many of the people in the group have become like family to her. The dinners every week may have something to do with that. There are a few different packs that form once the ride starts, but the night always ends with the entire group breaking bread with one another.
Different members of the group host an event every Wednesday, and the host in is charge of choosing the route and location of the dinner. With the group becoming so big, often times the location is at a local restaurant, but there are still pitch-ins from time to time.
The meals are a significant piece to this group because that is where most of the socializing takes place. Although the group has attracted more serious riders than expected, there is still a place for all levels of riders in the group. Lance Snider said some of the groups top riders started out as beginners a few years ago and gradually picked up speed with time.
The longer groups ride closer to 30 miles per week, and the top pack can get pretty fast for those who use the group for training, such as 63-year-old Max Henry and his 27-year-old son Malachi. Both Henrys are Ironman Triathlon competitors. Max will be competing in the half-ironman world championship in September in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Malachi will compete in the full Ironman World Championships in October in Kona, Hawaii.
“I got involved in (the group) about three or four years ago just because of my biking with the triathlons,” Max Henry said. “I needed to do a little bit more challenging biking than biking on my own.”
Max’s wife Cindy Henry and Malachi’s girlfriend Alex Vorndran prefer biking for leisure like many other members of the group. Lots of riders just enjoy grabbing their bikes and riding with other people like 75-year-old Tony Calloway or the Aton family.
Lance Snider looked back one Wednesday and realized there was a cluster of three generations of riders. Tom Aton, his son Curt Aton and granddaughter Liz Aton were all riding together. It’s not uncommon to see a toddler being trailed on a bike during a ride either.
Some riders in the group are not interested in riding a full 30 miles, so there is always a shorter 10- to 12-mile route to take, as well.
“We now have some very serious athletes who ride each week, and I have noticed that some of our original folks that were more recreational riders feel slight intimidation by that,” Lance Snider said. “We explain we are a bike group for everyone … There are a million bike groups, but this one has the greatest comraderie that I’ve ever seen. The people are unbelievable. It’s been a lot of fun for me.”
What: Columbus Indiana Wednesday Night Road Bikers
Founders: Lance and Bianca Snider
Ride Schedule: 6 p.m. every Wednesday
How to join: Join the Facebook group
Requirements: Wear a helmet