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As I See It, Vol. 1, No. 1

MICHAEL VALAZZA | Published on 9/26/2022

Hello Club Members,

This past weekend we held our Annual Club Picnic, my first as your club president.  Looking across the membership that was present, with the smell of the barbeque in the air, I could sense that nobody wanted to hear any long-winded message from me, so I promised to send an email out with some of my observations from this past spring and summer's cycling season.  I also find it a better method to reach a majority of you since not everyone was present on Saturday.
If I haven't had a chance to meet you yet, that is on me as I need to do a better job going forward in riding with a lot of different ride leaders, at different paces, so as to better make myself available for input from a broader cross-section of our membership. (I'll skip the 18+ mph paces though if that's ok with the B+ and A riders).  That said, I did see many new faces come to meet me at the Tuesday evening ride that I lead most weeks out of Skillman Park, or at one of the "One Way or Another" event rides I posted from different starting locations across the area this season. 
My best opportunity to meet and hear feedback from our membership has been at the All-Paces rides and the Picnic.  However, I have decided to make it a bit easier to hear your comments and suggestions so I have initiated this new email address: with the hope that this email address can be passed on across the years to successive club presidents.  It will certainly make it easier for me to see and answer your emails if they are not mixed in with all the other emails that come to me each day.  I hope that you'll take advantage of it as I work with our Board to align our club with the needs of our members. 
So now, here are some observations from my first 6 months on the job, "as I see it":
Ride Leaders
Our club can never have too many ride leaders.  I know from speaking to many of you it is not a responsibility that you wish to undertake, whether it be because you don't want to plan the route, or are there for the social aspects of the ride, or are worried to have to take on mechanical repairs that you feel you are not capable of, or whatever reason or no reason.  It is completely your prerogative.  However, I have heard from quite a number of our female members that they would really like to see more rides led by women, just for women.  I couldn't agree more, but that means we need to have a few more female ride leaders across the B,C+, C and D+ paces.  
Staying with this same topic, on the All-Paces rides we often have too many riders for not enough ride leaders. Optimally, with a view towards safety and also to appease our four-wheeled friends, it would be nice to keep the groups no larger than 12-15 riders.  For that, with an average attendance this season of 125-150 riders per event, we need 3 to 5 ride leaders for the most popular paces: B, C+ and C.  I hope a few more of our current ride leaders heed the call from our Ride Captain, Sue Moser, when she reaches out for Spring Fling ride leaders in April. 
And we could always use more D+ and D ride leaders of either gender.
Featured Event Rides
A heartfelt "Thank You" to those of you who took the time to answer the survey that was sent out over the summer.  The PFW "Princeton Event" is a big part of our club history, but through much informal feedback, it felt to me as if it really wasn't that important any longer.  Most weekends there are a plethora of "event-type" rides available for those who are so inclined, which wasn't the case before GPS-guided rides became commonplace.  The survey formalized the feedback as only 10.3% of our membership respondents were extremely interested in reviving the Event, while 51.6% responded that they were either slightly interested or had no strong feelings either way.
What was overwhelmingly of interest was having the club consider other formats.  There we saw 56.3% of respondents answering that they would like to see these type of activities available to members, or that they sound fun and they might go.  On the other end, only 15.1% of respondents were uninterested in these type of events.
As a result, we have started to list some non-PFW events on our calendar for the consideration of the members, but we have also started to plan, expand and better promote some of our own "Featured Events".  For the Non-PFW Events, the thought behind it is that often many of our members take part, but have no idea if there are other PFW members doing the same event.  Some, like Anchor House and RAGBRAI, involve travel logistics planning, or simply carpooling.  Others, like the Sourland Spectacular and Covered Bridges, for example, offer an opportunity for members to ride together during the event.  Please understand that registering on the PFW Ride Calendar is not a registration for the event, but as way for other members to be able to connect with you.  We will continue to list these rides for your consideration.
As for our own "Featured Events" I hope that many of you took advantage of the opportunity to participate in one or more of these event rides:
In May:
  • Marty's Early Ride on the Columbia Trail (C+)
  • Henry Hudson Trail Ride (C+)
  • Bear Mountain from Tallman Mountain State Park (B)
In June:  the multi-day road trip to Martha's Vineyard, plus,
  • Tom's Covered Bridge Ride (B)
  • Hillier Hills with Fiddlers Elbow (B+)
  • CHILLAX by the River (D+)
  • the JUNETEENTH DAY rides (C+ and C)
In July:
  • the TWO rides to Round Valley Reservoir on successive weekends (B and C+)
  • Ringoes to Easton, PA (C+)
  • Tom's Pineland Cruise (B)
In August:
  • Delicious Orchards ride with Christine (C)
  • Jason's D&R Canal Birthday Ride (C+)
  • Casual Evening Ride on the Union Transportation Trail (C+)
In September:
  • Tom's Ride Around the Delaware (B)
  • The 5th Annual Don Sprague Memorial Tour of the Shore Century (B)
  • The Tour of the Shore Half Century (C+)
  • Marty's Serious Climbing Ride - Milford to Merrill Creek Reservoir (C+)
  • October 1 - OCTOGENARIAN DAY (C, 3xC+) - 4 options as there will be 3 routes and 4 paces at different distances, all meeting at the Olde World Bakery in Smithville for a mini-celebration honoring Spence Halper, Dennis Whitney, Ernie Lee and Bob Yellen.
  • October 15 - Hudson River Ride (B+, B, C+) - join Dom Cimino, Dave Hepburn and Ken Webber as they each lead one of the paces on a 48 mile ride up and down the Hudson River, beginning in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge and coming back via the GWB.
You can expect to see more of these in 2023 -
including a few more road trip options for your consideration.
And don't forget to mark your calendars for the Holiday Party on December 3rd.
In conclusion, as this is already too long, I want to thank Ira Saltiel and our Board of Trustees for welcoming me to this role and helping make the transition seamless.  
  • Program Chair (VP1) - Andy Chen
  • Ride Captain (VP2) - Sue Moser
  • Secretary (and Ride Sheet Coordinator) - Ken Webber
  • Treasurer - Peter Fenner
  • Website Editor - Jim Brittain
  • Membership & Database - Karen Baldino
  • Members at Large - Andy Abere, Lynne Martin, Mindy Newman, David Speis
  • Ex Officio - Ira Saltiel
Happy Pedaling!
Michael (Mike) Valazza
President of the Board

Please patronize our PFW Sponsors. Clicking on the ad will bring you to their site:

RoadMaestro Bicycle Service
Mobile Bicycle repair based in
Hightstown, NJ
Click on the logo for info.

Ramblin' Wrench
Bike maintenance comes to you!
Discounts to FreeWheeler Members

7 Route 31
Pennington, NJ 08534
Mon-Fri 10-6
Sat 930-430
Sun 12-4

Jay's Cycles
249 Nassau St
Princeton, NJ 08540
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 11am-6pm
Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm
Closed Wednesdays

683 Mercer Street 

Hightstown, NJ 08520

Mon, Wed, Fri: 10-6
Tu, Thu: 10-7
Sat: 10-5
Sun: 11-3

Sourland Cycles
53 E Broad St
Hopewell, NJ 08525
Sun: 11am - 4pm
Mon: Closed
Sat: 10am - 5pm

Halter's Cycles
1325 US 206
Skillman, NJ 08558
Mon-Fri 11-7
Sat 10-5
Sun 12-4

Updated 3/1/2024