Their edict is simple.
“We go as fast as our slowest rider,” Lisa Fontaine said.
In this instance, the pace of their weekly bicycle jaunt through and around Iola was dictated by a lumbering Register reporter with camera in hand.
The quintet of riders — Fontaine and her husband, David, plus area cycling enthusiasts Theresa Berntsen, Jay Kretzmeier and Regina Woodworth — gathered Thursday evening at Cofachique Park for their weekly “tour de Iola” — a ride organized by the Iola Recreation Department.
Their routes are usually discussed briefly beforehand, but then decided as the ride progresses.
Sometimes their direction is dictated by who is riding. If one of the members wants to ride by his house, for example, the group heads that way. If a brisk wind is blowing from the north or south, the group tends to take on the headwind at the start. (Doing so ensures a tailwind on the way back.)
The key, Lisa Fontaine said, is to ensure a fun ride for everybody.
“That’s the best part,” she said. “You’re riding along and talking and you don’t even realize you’re exercising.”
YOU’D HAVE to search far and wide to find a more avid group of cycling advocates than this bunch.
The Fontaines are longtime cycling enthusiasts who had been asked occasionally through the years to organize bike rides in the area.
“The problem with that is the insurance involved,” David Fontaine said. “If you put your name on it, then you assume the liability.”
That changed about six years ago when they were approached by former Iola Recreation Director Donald Farmer about leading a ride under the Recreation Department’s umbrella.
The duo jumped at the chance.
“It’s a lot easier on your joints than running,” David Fontaine said.
WHEN NEWCOMERS arrive, the pace is typically more leisurely, Kretzmeier explained, to ensure the slowest riders do not have to over-exert themselves to keep up.
“That can make for a tough ride,” said Kretzmeier, a former tennis player who started riding about five years ago.
He did so after seeing the Fontaines ride past his accounting office on North State Street. “I went out and bought my bicycle the next day.”
The local rides take the riders across a few hills.
“Actually, these aren’t hills,” David Fontaine joked. “They’re gentle inclines.”
Still, there are stretches on Montana Road south of Gates Corporation — Elks Lake Hill — and stretches of Minnesota Road leading to the U.S. 169 bypass that can leave some riders huffing and puffing as they approach the summit.