FLORISSANT: Regulators travel hard, so try to keep up.
But becoming a member of the North St. Louis County Cycling Group, which has a roster of about 40 active riders and several dozen more casual riders, is relatively easy.
All you need is three things: a bike, a desire to stay fit, and a penchant for talking about bikes.
“I’ve never been around a nicer group of people,” said Arsenia “AJ” Burnett, who has been with the Regulators since 2019. “They just took me under their wing.”
The club’s combination of friendliness to strangers and commitment to cycling extends from the top down, thanks to the club’s founders.
The Regulators were created by a trio that could be seen as the Pied Pipers of Pedaling: Gerald Lyles and twin brothers Lamarr and Lamont Gordon.
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Rest Stop 1: The club is not named after the North Carolina rebels who fought colonial officers before the American Revolution; comes from the 1994 rap/hip-hop classic “Regulate” by Warren G. and Nate Dogg.
Lamont Gordon said that as the three began their 40th birthday, they realized their days of playing basketball or baseball to stay in shape were fading in their rearview mirrors.
“I guess it was around 2013 or 2014, and we wanted to find a sport that we could do to get healthier and stay fit,” he said.
The first days of the club were easy, the three of them packed up their hybrid bikes and headed to MCT Trails in Madison County, Illinois.
“The first thing we noticed once we got out was everyone was passing us,” Gordon said with a laugh. “So we got rid of the hybrids and bought road bikes.”
Rest Stop 2: Road bikes differ from hybrids in that they are not designed for off-road riding. The tires are thinner, the frames are lighter, the seats are narrower, they go faster, and the price is higher. A new road bike will set you back $1,200 and probably more.
So with newer, faster bikes, the three of them started riding even more. And the more they rode, the more they talked about the club.
Now, don’t be surprised to see six or 15 members of the Regulators, in their vibrant blue and gold “kits,” at any major race, like Ride the Rivers, Riding for the Cure, or the Tour de Donut. and the Corn Tour.
And in those early days, they brought together Angela Jason from Hazelwood, who had just battled breast cancer and met the trio at a cancer fundraiser.
“Right away, it made working out fun,” said Jason, who serves as the unofficial head of the club’s women’s division, which makes up about half of the total membership.
“And then we all become a family, a community. We’d go riding together and then we’d stay and talk about riding and bikes,” Jason said, noting that cyclists crave that kind of support.
“Cyclists can talk about bikes forever,” said Jason. “But people who don’t ride bikes get tired of it pretty quickly.”
A major positive factor in the club’s growth, oddly enough, was the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the US in the spring of 2020.
“My gym was closed and I couldn’t go to work out,” said Mark Lucas, a retired Veterans Administration detective from O’Fallon, Missouri.
“He knew Lamont from church and he invited me to ride with them,” said Lucas, who now regularly attends the club’s Tuesday night rides.
And now? “And now, I’m addicted to horseback riding,” Lucas said.
The walk on Tuesdays is the best introduction to the club. Starting at St. Ferdinand Park in Florissant, the club runs a 16-mile route that loops through Florissant and Hazelwood streets. It’s usually split into two groups, with one group taking a more challenging route, which basically means more hills.
Rest Stop 3: According to a People For Bikes survey, 44% of respondents said they biked more after the pandemic hit; and 4% of the total US population took up horseback riding for the first time in years. The study noted that new cyclists were more motivated by the socialization it offers.
But back to Burnett, who first met the Regulators three years ago near Forest Park while in his car.
“I was on Clayton Avenue, heading to Skinker by the Hi-Pointe Theater, and I saw this group of bikers flying through Clayton,” Burnett said. “And I said to myself, ‘Who are these guys?’”
He met them at the traffic lights and yelled at them.
“I mean, he had a bike. But I sure as hell didn’t ride it like they were doing. Watching them climb that hill was awesome,” Burnett said.
Burnett gave her number to Lyles, the club’s president, who had Jason call her to invite her out on a ride on Tuesday.
“The first thing I realized, even though I mostly kept up with them on a Schwinn, was that I needed a new bike,” Burnett said.
But the club didn’t leave her alone to do that, Burnett said she talked to Lyles regularly about potential bikes to buy and what kind of accessories she needed. And while she was deciding on a purchase, Burnett said Jason lent him one of her road bikes until she bought her own.
Along with budding friendships, Burnett said veteran club members were also eager to pass on driving strategies and explain rules of the road, etiquette and bike safety.
“I mean these people didn’t even know me and they were helping me like this,” Burnett recalled thinking. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
So, for all the serious twists and turns the Regulators engage in on a regular basis, and all the words that could be written about them, the best way to describe the club is its simple motto:
“We’re not done until we’re all done.”
Posted at 6:30 am on Friday, July 15.