ON A RIDE — Don Farthing of the Independence Bike Club leads a group of cyclists Friday afternoon for the "First Day Ride," a bicycling event to help kick off the new year. While the weather was a little cold, cyclists took to Riverside Park's One Way path for a leisurely ride. Steve McBride | Staff Photo
ON A RIDE — Don Farthing of the Independence Bike Club leads a group of cyclists Friday afternoon for the "First Day Ride," a bicycling event to help kick off the new year. While the weather was a little cold, cyclists took to Riverside Park's One Way path for a leisurely ride. Steve McBride | Staff Photo

Independence Bike Club, or what is known in the group as the "Indy half fast cyclists," came together in June 2015 and they spent the first day of 2016 riding their bikes Friday afternoon in Riverside Park for the First Day Ride event. 

The club consisting of eight to 10 riders who ride on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 a.m., pedaled in unison with sunny skies and a chill to the wind as they promoted healthy living and a passion for riding bicycles.

"It is a very informal group. We want to have fun and exercise at the same time, yet each rider determines when and where they can ride," said Don Farthing, the spokesperson for the group.

Farthing explained that the idea for the First Day Ride came about after the group returned from a bike ride one day and member, Judy Jones, of Cherryvale, mentioned that the Joplin Bike Association held a ride that took place on the first day of January at 1 p.m. 

"That's where we came up with the idea to have a 1-1-1 ride," he said.

As the group discussed this idea, it evolved into planning their own 1-1-1 ride, which consisted of riding at least one mile on the Riverside Park "One Way" on New Year's Day. 

"If the weather is good, we will ride for eleven miles," said Farthing.

Those that participated in the ride at Riverside Park were Michael McCambrige with his family, Emily, Corey and El; Duane Koszalka; Neil and Emma Schaper; Nancy Castilleja; Judy Jones; Jim and Debbie Davis; and Don Farthing.

"There were 12 people that rode with us on the 1-1-1 ride at the Riverside Park. Four of the riders continued to ride 11 miles. It was a great day," Farthing said excitedly.

The group collects no dues and there are no rules, except that each rider must wear a helmet. 

"This is an exceptional group of people. There is no money involved, there are no egos and no agendas. We all just like to ride our bikes and through our riding together, we have become great friends who have fun riding bikes," Farthing added. "Anyone is welcome to join us for a ride. We are just people that like to ride and we welcome anyone who has the same passion."

The Independence Bike Club has come together, for the most part, through word of mouth. A few of the original riders would meet at Ane Mae's Coffee and Sandwich Shop after a ride. Often times, people at the shop asked if the small group were cyclists. 

"The group has grown just by seeing us after our rides and asking if they could join us. Of course, we are not going to turn away other bike riding enthusiasts," said Farthing.

The current group consists of Judy Jones, Dave Banworth, Chuck Schmidt, Neil and Becca Schaper, Nancy Castilleja, Rebecca Crawford and Farthing.  

Farthing added that the group occasionally participates in some organized rides, such as in Pittsburg, and Tulsa, Okla. These are organized rides that consist of varied lengths of rides from 10, 20, 25, all the way up to 75 miles. 

It is not uncommon for the group on a normal ride to go to Neodesha or Cherryvale, "or other communities in the area" before returning for coffee at Ane Mae's in Independence. 

"Whatever the group or an individual wants to ride, it is up to them. On average, the group rides 10 to 15 miles. For those of us that are retired, we can ride, weather permitting, three days a week. This year, we have set a goal to attempt to ride at least one time each month, which isn't easy to do in the winter months," he said.