So you’re away on business or on holiday and you’re feeling the itch to get on your bike. You didn't think you could handle the withdrawal symptoms if you ditched your strict training regimen, so you’ve brought along your bike in case you’re able to squeeze a ride in. There’s just one problem – you’re in an unfamiliar land and there’s nobody to ride with.
This is where the Bunch Ride Finder website comes in handy. A passion project of Australian graphic designer Steve Schenko, the site was born out of this same recurring problem. “The idea sprang from me travelling a lot with work and through holidays with the family,” he told BikeRadar. “I wanted to take my bike with me but never knew if there was going to be a local group ride. It was frustrating to find once I was there (without a bike) that there were great bunch rides right nearby!”
So Steve developed this single idea; a one-stop shop where anyone in the world can add a group ride to an ever-expanding database. “Imagine going overseas for a work conference, taking your bike and meeting up with a bunch of cyclists for a ride – it’d be a great way to meet new people while also getting a few rides in while you’re away,” he said.
Steve Schenko, creator of Bunch Ride Finder, at the 2010 World Championships in Geelong, Australia
Set up purely as a side project in his free time (he says he’s made precisely zero dollars out of it, and has no designs on doing so), Steve’s involved purely for the love of the sport. He’d been a keen mountain biker for two decades, but developed a passion for road riding while on a working holiday in Britain. The site is his attempt to find a solution to a universal problem.
All the information you need for the ride is there: location, time, difficulty, distance, average group size, as well as detailed descriptions and mapping. They're listed in country and bike discipline order, so finding the right ride for you is simple.
Since launching, Steve’s been delighted with the feedback he’s received in Australia, with Cycling New South Wales and Wade Wallace of Cycling Tips helping to spread the word. “In Australia it’s going great, yet in the rest of the world it's been a bit of a hard slog to get rides added,” he said. “But slowly momentum is growing – we had our first bunch ride from the United Arab Emirates added recently, with 100-plus riders with support cars and the works!”
Rides are continually being added each week and he's approaching 200. Given the work involved in manually mapping each one, Schenko is happy with the frequency with which he currently receives them. “With my workload, the way it’s organically growing suits me fine,” he reckons.
With it being a one-man band, Steve's hoping the venture eventually evolves into a resource where cyclists can upload rides themselves and help contribute to the site. After all, this is still a part-time gig for him. “The more people that contribute the better,” he said. “I have plans to develop the site into an iPhone app, but at this stage it’s a matter of getting more global rides listed – if anyone has any ideas, feel free to contact me.”
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