Looking for a riding group? Maybe I can help. Fort Mill Cycling Groups for Road Cycling and Mountain Biking

I get asked a lot if there are any online groups about cycling that they can join to meet new like-minded people. I figured that I should make a list so it would be easy for everyone to find a riding buddy.

I know there are a lot of new bikes that are being given as Christmas presents this year, and I know that because many of you have had me assemble or adjust them to make sure they’re ready for a lucky rider. For that I am thankful, and want to make sure that you keep riding that bike. A good way to continue to want to ride bikes is to find a few riding buddies. Sometimes it can be daunting to find a group of people that you like, and cycling groups are no different. There are many types of cycling, levels of fitness, ability to meet, etc, so I wanted to just make a resource for new and old riders alike. While this is in no way a complete list of all riding groups in the Fort Mill, Rock Hill, and Charlotte area, it is a good start and should help you to begin to find that riding buddy you’ve been looking for.
* Click titles of the groups to find the link


Facebook Groups:

  • Charlotte Mountain Bikers: An all-inclusive mountain bike Facebook page that has many riders. There are planned monthly rides, and many smaller groups within.
  • Ales and Trails: A bikeing group that despite the name is focused on all social bike disciplines. They often start / end at a brewery and mix in the love of bikes and beer.
  • Charlotte Area Cycling GP: This group rides gravel mountain and road any day of the week at various locations around the city and the surrounding area.
  • Fort Mill Cyclists: This is a group that is for cyclists in the Fort Mill area of all ages, abilities, and experiences.
  • Charlotte Area Cycling Society: One-stop shop for get-togethers and cycling in the Charlotte region.
  • Rock Hill, SC MTB: This group is for those that enjoy the mountain bike experience that is Rock Hill.
  • Lake Ridge Rides: A neighborhood group that welcomes outsiders. The majority of rides are on trails in Baxter Village area.

Websites

  • Rock Hill Bicycle Club: Their website says that they represent all riders, but their group rides are mostly road-specific.
  • MeetUp: This is a site that specializes in putting people together. Many biking groups are listed on this site.
  • Weekly Rides: a comprehensive list of regularly scheduled weekly training rides, charity rides, and gravel rides

Whether it’s your first time looking for a group or you’re just looking for a new set of buds to ride a new night of the week, I hope finding a few others that enjoy riding helps you enjoy it if even just a little bit more.

Last Year It Was Bikes, This Year It’s Parts and Labor

If you remember, 2020 brought us a global pandemic that had people of all ages looking for something to do that wasn’t just sitting in their house. The world had all but shut down for 4+ months, and things were slow to open even once they could. These factors put more people on bikes than any expert ever thought for the year. The results were a bike shortage that you can still see the effects of today.

While bikes are starting to show back up on sellers’ shelves, they’re just not as good as they used to be, even just two years ago. The adage “they don’t make them like they used to” applies here, but not because the bike makers are trying to cut corners (at least not yet), but because parts aren’t able to be made.

Let’s look at this year and what that’s going to mean to you. While there’s likely a seemingly unlimited amount of cheap parts on your local mega eCommerce sites, those parts are more and more likely to be knockoffs. Shimano and SRAM, the two biggest makers of bike components, are having unprecedented parts shortages. These shortages are due to a variety of reasons including, labor shortages, raw material shortages, logistical problems, and growing demand, all of which are playing a role in you not being able to find what you’re looking for.

There’s a second issue at play this year. It’s the US labor shortages. Well, the whole world is having these issues, but let’s try to stick local here. If you find yourself in need of bike repairs or maintenance this year, you’re going to find the wait time to get back on two wheels is longer than you may have waited in the past. Many shops have wait times well over TWO WEEKS to even get your bike taken into the shop, not to mention to get the bike work finished.

What can you do about it?

Well, unfortunately, not too much. I’d recommend that if you’re buying a bike for someone for the holidays, you start looking now. If that bike is going to need assembly, call your shop now. If you are ready to do that all-important winter maintenance, to one or more of your bikes, whether it’s a race bike or a neighborhood commuter, go ahead and schedule an appointment now.

Yes, I know it’s only October, and at the point of writing this, here in Charlotte NC, it’s still 75-80 degrees outside. It’s hard to start thinking about winter maintenance and Christmas gifts at this point, but take it from this insider. Now’s the time to start thinking about your fall and winter bike needs, even if you’re scheduling the appointments for 2-3 months out.

Happy riding everyone!

It’s going to get harder before it gets easier.

If there’s one good thing that’s come out of this whole coronavirus mess, it’s that people sure have started getting out there on 2 wheels. I know I’ve hit on this before, but this keeps becoming apparent, even now, a year and three months after we started this whole thing.

Now for the downside of this particular post. Shimano (one of the major manufacturers of bicycle components) has announced (June 10th) that they are going to be shutting down one of their biggest factories for at least 18 days due to an uprising in Covid cases in Malaysia. They had been running at a reduced 66% since June 1st but will have to close completely during the shutdown. This news coupled with the already struggling supply chain for the world’s largest manufacturer is going to add to the frustratingly long waits and high prices of bicycle components.

If you’re thinking “no big deal, I was going to buy a new bike this year anyway”, you’re not alone. After last year’s shortage of everything bicycle, many people decided the summer of 2021 was going to be the time they purchased that new shiny bike. Well, I’m here to tell you, if you see something on the store shelves you like, jump on it! As the bike industry was just starting to see a recovery in terms of available bikes and components, news like this is sure to put a screeching halt on many bike companies dreaming of selling more bikes than ever before.

If you have a good bike mechanic it will start to show true in the coming months, and my guess into at least early next year. The days of the “replace not repair” have been slowing for a while, but in my opinion, if that’s your local bike shop’s way of fixing issues, they may be unable to get you back on the road/trail/greenways as quickly as you’d hoped.

Don’t fret, however. Keep riding those bikes “like you stole them” (unless you did steal it, then please return it, and say “I’m Sorry”). There are plenty of shops out there, including myself that will be able to keep you rolling through all of this and beyond.

Keep it rubber side down, until next time.

RJ

Stop thinking about it and BUY that bike now!

I have been asked probably 20 times in the past week if I think that someone should buy a bike they saw at the bike shop now or wait for prices to fall. To me the answer to this question is very simple: If you want a bike in 2021, and you don’t want to pay almost retail for a bike someone else has already thrashed loved, buy that new bike now.

In case you’ve not been following along at home, the bike market is crazy right now. Low inventories in 2020 caused by increased demand and factory shutdowns have lead to a bike shortage (Yes parts and components too, but that’s a subject for another post). In talking with a lot of people in the industry and a few brand reps, 2021 is going to look much the same. The demand is still very high, and supply is promising to be low through at least mid-summer.

In a normal year, the new bicycle novelties for the coming season would start to be presented by the brands in spring until the end of summer, when the stores start to receive the first units of the new season. So for all those who were looking for the best price it was a good idea to wait until the beginning of September when prices in the shops were lowering in the medium-high range models in order to take out stock, get liquidity and be able to give entry to the new ones. In this case, it could always happen that it was too late and you couldn’t choose the exact set-up or color you wanted. But this is not a normal year.


In conclusion – BUY THAT BIKE NOW! and don’t say I didn’t warn you if you decide otherwise.

Shopping for bikes for under the tree is going to be different this year

It’s hard to believe that I am already talking about the holiday season, but Thanksgiving is just 2 weeks away, and that means that kids young and old are going to be asking for a bike. Maybe Santa knows something I don’t, but I don’t think he’s going to have much luck. As you may or may not know, bicycles have been scarce since about April. The perfect storm of elevated sales and lower production numbers, both a direct result of Covid-19 have made bikes all but impossible to find. Yes, you may get lucky if you go stand at your local big box, but chances are that even they don’t have any bikes in stock, and won’t be getting many in before Santa’s big day. if you’re thinking “Well I can just go to a bike store a spend a few more dollars, but at least I’ll get a bike that way”, you better be prepared to shell out around $3k. That seems to be the running threshold of the level of bikes that the bike shop can get their hands-on, and that number goes up if you wouldn’t ride an Extra Small or an Extra Large. Shocking, I know!

So what can you do about it? Well, maybe not much. Then again, maybe get a much better bike for the same budget. Christmas 2020 will be the year that used bikes will get a new home and be the shining star under that tree you put up way too early this year “in an effort to bring a little joy” Some of you are scoffing at the idea right now that anyone would be willing to get their kids, spouse, grandma, dog, etc. a USED bike for a holiday gift, but hear me out here. Yes, they’re going to be a little scratched, maybe a bit dirty, maybe chain won’t sparkle, etc, but do you really need or even want that anyway? I kid is really not going to care, and is going to just leave it outside to rust in the rain or get run over by your family truckster because you’re not going to see it in the driveway. Getting a used bike can bring many great things to the table too. Let’s list some (lists are super duper fun, right?).

  1. Used Bikes Are Cheaper – Yes you can still find used bikes that get up close to the $10k range, and no those people aren’t crazy for asking those prices (tho paying those prices is a bit coo coo if you ask me). Let’s say you were hoping to spend about $200 on a bike this Christmas. Well in the past that meant that you were going to a big box store and getting a shelf bike. This year you can take that same $200 and get a bike that has some miles on it and start to look at decent brands. That’s a big step in the right direction. You could also expect to spend about 1/2 – 3/4 of the original price if you wanted to stick with a big box brand so you could still do that and spend less.
  2. Used Bikes are already fixed – Yes it’s still a used bike, and yes the chain and sprockets are likely worn way past their limit, but any big issues with the bike have likely been addressed. Also most of the time someone brings a bike in to get a once over and tuned so they can sell it for the max money. That means if you’re shopping correctly you’ll actually be buying a bike that’s in great shape.
  3. Sell for close to what you bought it for – Assuming that you’ve taken care of that used bike, the resale is going to be close to what you paid for it. This is especially true with kids’ bikes. They grow out of them so fast that it is likely not going to sit in your garage for 10+ years collecting dust. I have seen many people pay $500 to get a ~10-year-old road bike. That same bike would have cost about $2-3k in its hay day, and then you can sell it in the next few years when you’re ready for that same $500.

So this holiday season when you’re looking for bikes on the marketplace apps, feel confident that a used bike, while maybe your only option this year, is truly a great option for so many people. If you don’t feel 100% comfortable with the purchase, or just want someone to look it over, feel free to give me a shout and take advantage of our $25 safety check.

Happy riding.

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