It starts with the kids
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.