Ritchey Hangout: I’m Telling You, It’s Great Here

On February 25th, Ritchey and The Bike Sauce hosted a Ritchey Hangout event at Maverick Cycles in Whittier, CA. The meetup brought together cyclists from across Southern California in appreciation of all things Ritchey. The event was part group ride and part social hang, punctuated deliciously with a lunchtime BBQ pop-up from Bep Bep Kitchen.

It’s been two years since Maverick Cycles was introduced to Radavist readers and this event serves as a good check-in point for how things are going and how things have grown…

I rolled out of my driveway as the sun was coming up, much like any Sunday morning. Instead of my normal routine, typically a solo spin on some of my go-to local routes and a quick coffee stop somewhere along the way, I was headed out to meet up with a still-to-be-determined group of cyclists at Maverick Cycles. I’m fortunate to live within a two-minute ride from Maverick, and since its opening in 2021, Kevin Kang’s community-focused shop has become a meaningful part of the cycling community in our little slice of Southern California.

When I arrived at the shop, I spotted Fergus from Ritchey sitting on the tailgate of his truck, getting ready to set up for the day as a few locals filtered into the parking lot. A blue Ritchey tent was assembled. Conversation and coffee started flowing as all manner of bikes (Ritchey and otherwise) were leaned on walls awaiting the start of the ride. I recognized a number of the usual suspects from the monthly Maverick rides and a smattering of new faces lining up to sign a waiver or get a coffee—or both. Many in the growing queue of riders had heard about the ride from Nolan, one of the event organizers, and the brains behind The Bike Sauce. If you haven’t already, check out his stellar YouTube channel. He approaches a wide range of cycling topics with a thoughtful, practical tone and even puts on his science and engineering cap from time to time (something he’s qualified to do). Apart from the more polished content he releases, his candid live streams with Russ Roca are always entertaining, especially for those of us who fancy the occasional trip deep into The Cave of Bad Ideas™.

Announcements were made, and with five minutes to roll out, our group of roughly fifty people got ready to go. Truth be told, I don’t consider myself a group ride person. At least, not in the sense that I would normally go out of my way to find one. I have observed that these things can go a number of ways, ranging from an energizing shared experience with your fellow cyclists to an impersonal pissing contest where the pace and posturing rule the day. At the same time, if I look back over the years I’ve spent riding bikes, rides like these have been an opportunity to share what is often a solitary experience with a broader group of people. When rides like this happen in your own backyard, it adds something special. It’s a moment when you can help introduce someone else to the things you love about riding bikes in your community.

There was a time when I would have preferred to keep my favorite roads and trails to myself. To horde those special spots and hang on to a false sense of self-imposed exclusivity. Group rides out of Maverick have nudged me to change my tune and have brought me out of my comfort zone. This ride was another high note and resonated as a clear example of why many of us keep coming back for more.

We headed out through a careful threading of residential streets, making our way toward the first dirt section of the route. Even with a steady amount of climbing in the first four miles, spirits remained high and everywhere I looked I found smiles and friendly conversations. Much of the ride continued on like this, so I’ll save us all some time and summarize. I think Rufus, from the 1989 cinematic masterpiece Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, captures the essence of the day well when he states:

“And I’m telling you, it’s great here. The air is clean. The water’s clean. Even the dirt is clean. Bowling averages are way up. Mini-golf scores are way down, and we have more excellent water slides than any other planet we communicate with.”

Future San Dimas? It might as well be modern-day Whittier, but make it bikes.

All this to say, the ride wasn’t without its challenges. Like much of the riding in Los Angeles, the fire road climbs in Turnbull Canyon can be steep. Even for those of us who ride the area regularly, the landscape becomes more familiar, but it’s never easy. The group remained undeterred, with more huffing and puffing interrupting our conversations on the way to the top of the trail. All of us mildly suffering together in the best way we know how. At each regroup, it struck me that no one seemed to be in a rush to keep moving. We were simply caught up in the moment, enjoying each other’s company and a good time on a bike.

We arrived back at Maverick and found a line already forming for Bep Bep Kitchen. I was surprised to learn that this event was their first pop-up ever. Bep Bep’s team kept everyone’s hunger contained with a level of skill that suggested years of experience. The attention to detail and care put into each of their barbeque-based rice bowls was instantly apparent. Meats and tofu were meticulously marinated and smoked in-house (sometimes for days). Handmade condiments and sauces of many varieties were neatly organized on the pick-up table. The next time this kitchen pops-up, I’ll be there.

We ate, drank coffee, and chatted—observing the diverse array of beautiful bicycles in attendance. There were plenty of fun and notable Ritchey builds. It was, of course, a Ritchey-themed event. Ultimately, when it came down to frame material, enthusiasm for steel bikes showed up in force.

I’m grateful to have been a part of this casual coming together from different corners of the cycling world. The classic cycling brand who has been there throughout the trends, keeping one foot in the best traditions of the sport while continuously innovating and staying true to its roots. The COVID-era YouTube side-project that grew a large online community–now holding an in-person meet-up for the first time. The combination of coffee shop bike boutique seems almost purpose-built for tying it all together and providing a space for community events such as this. What do you get when these three walk into a bar (or coffee shop)? Positivity. Nothing but positivity.

Group rides, +1. Be excellent to each other.