Brooklyn transplant Andrew Riss has taken his love for cycling and brought it to Maplewood. An animator/designer by trade, he recently started bi-weekly rides in the area, done through the South Orange Maplewood Bike Coalition (SOMbike). Last week, which was graced with great weather, was the first week of his project. Six riders joined him for the 60-90 minute ride through the town.
"It's like a pilot program that I'm trying to get off the ground," said Riss, who moved to Maplewood a year ago. "It's one of those things that if people hear about it or if they see the group riding, they'll join."
Riss calls the outings "kind of a before-work ride." The distance, he said, depends on the level of the group. Right now, they'll stick to somewhere around 12 miles per hour. If the level of the riders increases, they'll ride farther.
So why start another local ride? "When I lived in Brooklyn, you could just ride your bike to the park and meet people at any time of the day," Riss said. "But here, you kind of have to organize stuff because people are so spread out." His plan, he added, was to set up regular slots where people of all cycling levels could meet up, ride with a group, and feel safe doing it.
Riss, who rides during the winter months as well, has been cycling for more than twenty years. As a hobby, he participates in categorized bike races. "The races I do are pretty fast, like 40 miles across Central Park or something like that," he explained. "Or sometimes, I might do a race that's under a one-mile stretch."
Riss's rides take place Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:30am. The group meets near the Park & Ride lot, across from the corner of Baker Street and Maplewood Avenue.