Saddlebrooke Cyclemasters

Members of the Saddlebrooke Cyclemasters prepare for a recent group ride in Saddlebrooke.

ORACLE -- The Saddlebrooke Cyclemasters ride their bicycles around.

A few of the club’s members ride all the way around the Tucson metro area in the annual El Tour de Tucson bicycle race, going dozens of miles, and embark on long trips around the Tucson area. Less ambitious members just ride around Saddlebrooke, the active adult retirement community where they live north of Tucson on the Pinal-Pima county line.

Skill levels vary widely among the club’s more than 200 members, but one thing all the members have in common is they enjoy getting on a bike for some fresh air and exercise.

“You can remember what it’s like when you first got a bike and you had your freedom as a kid,” said Bob Salas, the club’s president. “We have old people who still think about that freedom a bike gives them.”

Salas, 73, says there are “old people” and “young old people.” The young old people, often in their mid-60s, are more likely to be the stronger riders. Last year about eight or nine of them rode in the El Tour, which offers distances of 100, 75, 50 and 25 miles, and at least a couple of club members completed the 100-mile ride, Salas said.

“A lot of the guys have rode multiple times in the El Tour,” he said.

About three times a week those members send out a message informing other members that they are planning a ride of dozens of miles, and inviting members to accompany them. In May they climbed Mount Lemmon.

The more recreational members, some of whom are in their 80s, stay inside Saddlebrooke for hour-long rides, Salas said. A big focus for them is to stay socially as well as physically active.

Five or six times a year the club has meetings, which are part business and part social. Twice a year are big social events. One is a dinner-dance in which Cyclemaster of the Year and Most Improved Cyclist honors are awarded. Every Saturday are social rides followed by breakfast at a local restaurant.

The club contributes to the wider community by purchasing bikes for youths in Oracle and San Manuel elementary schools. Other chartable initiatives include helping IMPACT of Southern Arizona and Sister Jose Women’s Center. Members deliver the community’s newspaper, the Saddlebrooke Progress, once a month. That’s 5,200 papers.

During the summer participation drops about 30 percent, Salas said, because some members are “snowbirds.”

The club has been active since 1992, when a few people riding bikes in the community bumped into each other and decided to get together for drinks.

“It’s always been social,” Salas said. “It’s really just getting down and hanging out with people who have the same like — the bicycle.” | PW