Rigid Rid­ers

It starts with the kids

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CANADIAN CLUB - By Nick Ash­bourne PROFILE

It was a knock on Brian Mur­ray’s front door that got the Rigid Rid­ers off the ground. In the spring of 2001, Mur­ray an­swered to find three 13-year-old boys – Dun­can Sturz, Sam El­lis and Nick Jay – stand­ing out­side his house eager to do some moun­tain bik­ing. They weren’t al­lowed to head out on the trails alone, and were hop­ing Mur­ray would su­per­vise them.

By hap­pily oblig­ing, Mur­ray gave rise to a club that is still go­ing strong 15 years later, and one whose cre­ation earned him a spot in the Cy­cling p.e.i. Hall of Fame in the builders cat­e­gory.

“We sat down and came up with the name Rigid Rid­ers af­ter the boys looked at their bikes, which were lay­ing on the lawn, and no­ticed they didn’t have any sus­pen­sion,” he re­calls. “I told them we would start a weekly rou­tine of one-anda-half-hour rides at Brook­vale Pro­vin­cial Nordic Park and that evening I got on the com­puter and picked a font with a zigzag un­der the words ‘Rigid Rid­ers.’”

To this day, the Rigid Rid­ers can be found at Brook­vale, which is ap­prox­i­mately 35 km west of Char­lot­te­town, ev­ery Tues­day from May to Septem­ber. But the club has changed sig­nif­i­cantly since its in­cep­tion. Orig­i­nally a youth club, it’s now an all-ages as­so­ci­a­tion.

In 2005, Cy­cling p.e.i. took the helm and re­al­ized quickly there was room for growth if the club ex­panded its focus. Cast­ing a wider net gave Rigid Rid­ers an en­tire prov­ince to draw from. “They’d come from all over the is­land,” says Mike Con­nolly, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Cy­cling p.e.i. Con­nolly soon dis­cov­ered there were a num­ber of po­ten­tial mem­bers sit­ting right un­der his nose. “What we found is that all the par­ents would come and they’d sit in their car and drink their Tim Hor­tons cof­fee and watch the kids for the whole hour,” he says. “So we said, ‘Let’s get those guys out of the cars.’” Rigid Rid­ers still prides it­self as a place where high-per­for­mance moun­tain bik­ers can train. It has a Canada Games team. Still, the club is cater­ing to a broader au­di­ence, which is grow­ing ev­ery year. In 2015, it had 118 reg­is­tered rid­ers. At the first ride of this sea­son, the turnout was 68, a num­ber that would shoot up in the fol­low­ing months. Ac­cord­ing to Con­nolly, the ball re­ally got rolling when Rigid Rid­ers got a lit­tle bit of free pub­lic­ity in 2014. “We were the best kept se­cret on p.e.i. and there were a lot of peo­ple look­ing for this type of ser­vice,” he says. “It took a lady com­ing from the lo­cal news­pa­per who did a ma­jor ar­ti­cle on the club that got on the front page of the is­land news­pa­per and our num­bers just went through the roof.” There’s noth­ing se­cret about Rigid Rid­ers now. From three keen young­sters and a help­ful neigh­bour, the club has risen to be­come a well-known en­tity for both ca­sual rid­ers and se­ri­ous com­peti­tors.

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