The North Roads Bicycle Club: Riding the Past Into the Future
By Bruce Steinberg
Well now, THIS is different these days. MMCLocal, Silent Sports Magazine’s parent company, forwarded a communication that was not only snail-mailed to them, but also handwritten in script and in pencil, complete with a phone number for one Bill Pearson, Chair of the North Roads Bicycle Club (NRBC). The letter requested a listing in the Calendar section for its September 12, 2020, September Song bicycle ride. The route travels in and around paved, lightly traveled roads of beautiful Rice Lake, WI, complete with a lake to jump in after the ride, plus area restaurants to post-ride meet.
I called the number and the Chair’s wife answered, who quickly passed the phone to Bill. His voice boomed venerable, causing me some concern when I explained to him that the Calendar had been replaced by listings of silent sports clubs and organizations, and the good deeds they do. For better or for worse, I explained my reasoning for this change. After a brief pause, I asked Bill if he’d like the NRBC listed, costing nothing. He agreed.
The first thing I asked for to start the listing was a website and/or Facebook page URL. Bill’s answer: “We don’t have that.”
“Okay then, how about an email?”
“Don’t have that either.”
“Another club member’s email?”
“I’d have to check.”
“How does the NRBC promote itself?”
“Printed flyers, 8 x 11, and they’re pretty nice-looking.”
I put my notepad aside and just had to ask how this club exists, for how long, or at all? Here is what Bill provided—
The NRBC has been around since 1968. Started by a dozen riders, it has had perhaps 1200 members over time. Currently, 20 regulars participate in meetings and on rides in and around Rice Lake, WI, not that Rice Lake residency is a requirement. Bill said he won the Chair position this year by a 12 to 0 vote on April Fools Day. “I won it mostly by being the Chair from the year before,” he said, “and being there.”
As to its use of club-promotion technology, Bill said, “The Mistral newsletter, an 8 x 11 single-side sheet, gets posted monthly on the Rice Lake Community bulletin board. In the ’70s, it was mailed to members in about 20 states. The dues are known as The Least We Can Do, and come in at $12 per year. It’s an amount that has not changed since 2000. Over its 52 years, the NRBC has had 9 different Chairs and has used the same address and telephone number for the duration [307 West Newton, Rice Lake, WI, 54868; (715) 234-4127].”
When it comes to activities, the NRBC offers much of what any other silent sports club provides. This includes overnights for touring riders, Social Rides Thursday, meetings with videos, magazines, and bike news, and an annual ride called September Song, which is held the first Saturday after Labor Day, this year on September 12th. The ride will be (about) 52 miles, to commemorate the Club’s 52 years, over paved Rice Lake area roads with low traffic. It’s a mostly self-sufficient ride, but with a lake to cool off in back at Rice Lake after the ride, and area restaurants to choose from for a post-ride gathering.
Bill said for one September Song, he was the only rider, due to bad weather. However, the NRBC has had up to 76 riders over the years for the event. When I asked if he would mail his flyers to me for a look, he agreed, saying, “They’re actually kind of nice.”
I have no idea how Bill will see this article on the Silent Sports Magazine website or Facebook Page. It’s also my policy to email my story for review by the subject first before running it.
But, alas, no email!
How do I know the content is accurate? Well, in addition to my notes from our conversation, I did receive two 8 X 11 flyers (and they are, in fact, kind of nice). Also, another snail-mail, handwritten note was inside, written by Bill Pearson, Chair 2020, of the NRBC.
Maybe this sort of laid-back approach provides all a club needs to keep pedaling along, 52 years with more years to come. And now, the club is listed in Silent Sports Magazine. The listing has no website or Facebook Page or email to check out. But it does have a direct telephone number to the Chair, who provides a venerable-voiced wealth of information.
Psst—no texting, it’s a landline!
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