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Community Connections - Kalamazoo Bicycle Club


Welcome to the first entry in the Community Connections series, designed to highlight the different clubs and organizations that call Kalamazoo home. Groups covered in this series will range from hobby clubs to fitness groups and everything in between. In this series’ maiden voyage, we connect with Jillian Howland, Director of Communications for the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club (KBC).

“Established in 1971, the KBC is an organization devoted to addressing the needs of bicycle-riding enthusiasts in the Kalamazoo area,” Howland explained. “This is accomplished by offering a variety of rides throughout the bike season, engaging in community bicycling advocacy, and educating both its members and the public about bike safety.”

Now in her second year with the KBC, Howland discovered the club when she moved home after accepting a job, back in Kalamazoo.

“I had previously tried mountain biking and after that went horribly wrong, I decided to stick to the roadways to regain confidence,” she admitted. “I came across KBC while on Facebook and noticed that I had friends in the group, so I reached out and connected with a riding group appropriate for my level. After participating in several rides, I was hooked.

KBC is open to bicyclists of all levels,” Howland added.

For novice riders and those getting back into the swing of biking, KBC offers Bike Camp. Formatted into a series of five sessions, the program is designed for families and adults to learn safe and efficient road cycling. New members can also take advantage of the club’s Ride With GPS app to plan and map their rides.

With an active membership that swells to more than 100 during the summer months, KBC primarily offers social group rides. Every other Tuesday the club also offers a Time Trial. This event is open to any rider wishing to “race the clock” on a set course. With all these sanctioned excursions, there is some form of group ride every day of the week from March through November, weather permitting.

In addition to the standard group rides, KBC also holds KalTour during the summer. This cycling event is a tour of Kalamazoo County that includes different routes for cyclists of varying age and skill.

Like many organizations, KBC had to halt most of its events and activities due to the pandemic. Group rides, KalTour, and Bike Camp had to be canceled, while meetings had to be moved to open spaces outside or online. Despite this obstacle, Howland and her fellow club members look forward to welcoming new members when they can meet again for in-person events.

“There is a real sense of community within the group,” she explained. “Whether you are a first-time rider, an experienced rider, or a competitive rider, KBC is the perfect avenue to meet new people while enjoying the outdoors on a set of wheels.”

If you or an organization you know are interested in putting together any bicycle-related projects within the community, KBC may be able to provide a small grant. For more information, visit KBC’s grants and awards page.

We appreciate KBC for being the inaugural subject in our Community Connections series and showing us why life is better on a bike!

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