“Winter Haven Cycle Club was founded in 2016 and is a club of like minded individuals who are encouraged to get to know each other on and off the bike. We are open to all types of biking including road, mountain, & CX. Our main focus is to foster Winter Haven’s Cycling community, where we can learn, grow, & ride together!” whcycleclub.com
Winter Haven Cycle Club is a group of cyclists founded by Deanna and Webb Tanner, Stewart and Meghan Mackie, and Kelly Kreiger.
“We saw a need for someone to step up and create more of a community around our fellow cyclists. Before we started it was hard to find local rides, meet people etc. With our calendar now as the local hub for rides, it’s been a great way to connect with people! We also have socials here and there to get to know people when we aren’t riding.” Meghan Mackie said.
Currently, the WHCC has around 50 members. There is a $20 annual fee to join and it’s free for students with valid ID. A very reasonable price to pay to have someone organize rides for you and cheer you on to become a better rider. They are there to boost your confidence when you need it or celebrate you for reaching a goal. Building friendships along the way, connecting with new people and having a sense of community is what makes this so special. This isn’t just a club about riding bikes, it’s about addressing the whole person physically and mentally.
As if that wasn’t enough, an added benefit of joining is a discount offered at some local businesses including Tanners Lakeside and m.marie boutique. The Bike Shop in Winter Haven offers a discount on accessories and nutrition, with some exclusions. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced rider, you can find a ride that fits your schedule. As a member, you’re able to participate in the weekly rides which also include the Social Rides.
“Social Ride is a term we came up with to encourage new riders to join us. We decided Sunday would be a good day to do that and we all meet for breakfast after the ride to get to know each other. We typically do 20-30 miles at an easy “C” pace and mingle along the way!” Mackie said.
Social Rides usually begin in downtown Winter Haven at Richard’s coffee and then finish at Egg Haven for breakfast after the ride. (Sometimes following up with a beer at Grove Roots.)
A “C” pace is a ride geared towards the beginner cyclist. This is part of a system the WHCC came up with over time. When you
look at the calendar of rides for the month, they will label them so you know what the pace will be and which rides will work for you.
Generally, the “A” ride is for the strongest group of riders. They call these “drop rides” because if you can’t keep up, you will get “dropped” from the pack and they keep on going. The pace is usually 20+mph. “B” pace is anywhere from 18-20 mph and “C” is 18 mph & below.
Along with the Social Rides, they have Club Rides on Saturdays, usually around 40 miles beginning at 7:30a.m. Early morning rides at 4:30a.m. and several evening rides. The schedule will change due to weather and organizing the ride leaders.
Besides the organized club rides, they will participate in bigger events. One of the larger events they’ve participated in was on March 12 for the 9th Annual Chain of Lakes Cycling Classic benefiting the Polk County Humane Society. Hundreds of riders showed up for the event in downtown Winter Haven. Dan Rooney has organized the classic all nine years and the club provided quite a few volunteers to help make the event a success. It was the first time they’ve volunteered as WHCC and plan on helping more throughout the year.
Rooney is also a WHCC member and said the club has established rider routes during their weekly rides. “They have also picked routes where you can shortcut at various places to shorten the ride if you don’t want to do the full ride,” Rooney said. “The longest route I can remember doing with them is about 55 miles. The emphasis, so far, has been to take care of weaker riders, help intermediate riders get stronger and let stronger riders get in a good workout.” Rooney said.
The next big event they’re doing is Bike MS: The Citrus Tour 2017. This is a fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The ride starts at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City and goes to the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate. The race is on May 6 & 7th and offers 3 route options. They have already raised $2,700 for this event. WHCC will continue its philanthropic work, as a group, anytime they can.
Living in Central Florida, it’s always a good time for a bike ride. And if you can meet new people and find a sense of community along the way, it’s a win-win.
“As of now, our plan is to continue growing as local club. We meet new riders every week which has been super fun.” Mackie said.
If you’re interested in becoming a member, contacting WHCC, becoming a sponsor, view upcoming events or to see photos, please visit: whcycleclub.com
Winter Haven Cycle Club