New Cycling Club connects TRU community from a distance

The virtually-hosted TRU Cycling Club hopes to bring riders closer together during a period of physical distancing

The TRU Cycling Club is connecting avid cyclers of all styles across the province. (Justin Moore/The Omega)

Recreational clubs, sporting events, and group meetups have been some of the hardest-hit communities in the last several months under the global COVID-19 pandemic threat.

And while personal social circles have since been encouraged to connect in small gatherings in periods of re-opening, many larger group-focused clubs and events have had to pivot to more unique methods for comradery and involvement.

The TRU Cycling Club is one of such communities to develop in the wake of our new normal. Free to join on the physical activity tracking app Strava, the TRU Cycling Club is open to students, professors, faculty and alumni, through which solo cycling activities, statistics and routes are shared.

Created by Amy Tucker and John Belshaw, two TRU Open Learning professors and avid cyclers, the idea for the club was to keep riders connected and encouraged to get out in the absence of social cycling events Tucker and Belshaw had been missing.

“We thought it would be a great way to inspire and connect with other people, see what they’re doing, look for new groups, and I think that social connection gives you a little bit of accountability,” Tucker said of the group.

Unlike other groups that are fixated on single cycling styles, the club is multi-faceted, allowing any cyclist to join, whether they’re commuting, mountain biking, touring or training.

“As a TRU employee that lives in Vancouver, with colleagues around the province on the Open Learning side of the house and a great many colleagues in Kamloops, this is a good way to connect,” Belshaw said.

With the accessibility of operating a club on a social platform, Belshaw expressed his interest in seeing many new and differing cycling routes worldwide as distanced colleagues, graduates, and extended TRU community members join the group.

“I like to think of this as a way of building the institution out as something that isn’t just located in Kamloops but really does have a presence in every community in B.C.,” Belshaw said.

Currently, the club has no plans for in-person group rides, given the COVID-19 restrictions for larger groups. Instead, Tucker mentioned the ability to post virtual challenges through the club page so that cyclists could compete against one another virtually and at a distance.

What was on Belshaw’s mind for inclusivity at a distance were jerseys and an exclusive cycling kit for members of the club.

“Could you imagine being in Nanaimo and seeing someone go by in a TRU Cycle Club jersey, or Prince George, or Vanderhoof?” Belshaw commented, saying the recognition of the group colours could one day bring people together when it’s safe to do so again.