With National Bike Month celebrated in May, local bike enthusiasts want to showcase the benefits of biking and encourage more people to give it a try.

Tim Harrison, president of Highland Rim Bicycle Club, reminds locals there are plenty of reasons to use a bicycle, including pedaling to school or work, riding to save money and biking to preserve your health.

Additionally, using a bicycle keeps the environment clean, helps you explore the community and find new friends.


History of the club

The history of the Highland Rim Bicycle Club goes back decades.

In 1974, a group of friends working at the Arnold Engineering Development Center decided to start the club, said Harrison.

“They were already riding, so they got together, and that was the start of the bike club,” Harrison said.

The group wanted a community club — not just an AEDC club.

They sought legal advice and incorporated the club as a nonprofit Tennessee corporation.

The first set of officers drew entirely from the AEDC populace and included Air Force military, Air Force civilian employees and contractors, according to the club’s website.

But it didn’t take long before the membership included a broader spectrum of individuals from the Tullahoma area.

Today, the club has nearly 100 members, according to Harrison.

The Highland Rim Bicycle Club is a diverse group, with members of any age, ability and speed preferences.

Whatever your skill level, members will easily find riding companions, said Harrison.


Various activities

The club offers a variety of activities during the warmer months of the year.

Typically, April through October is the best time for biking. 

“Once bicycling season starts, we have four or five rides every week,” Harrison said. “The big ride is on Saturday, and that’s kind of for everybody.”

There are various groups within the club.

“My wife and I are retired, so we ride two times other than Saturday with several other people that are also retired,” Harrison said. “We usually ride in the morning or early afternoon.”

For those with jobs, there are other rides to better fit their schedules.

“The people who work may get together with some folks and ride after work,” Harrison said.

The weekly ride on Tuesday, with the route beginning at Frazier McEwen Park, is one of the most popular events, said Harrison.

“Our longest-standing ride starts at the park at 5 p.m. on Thursday,” Harrison said. “That is a social ride and it’s been going on since the club has been here.”


Passion for biking

Harrison’s passion for pedaling began when he was a child.

“I have been riding a bike ever since I was a kid,” Harrison said. “We lived in the country and before I was 12 years old, I was riding all over the country – I pedaled newspapers, greeting cards. I went everywhere pedaling.”

Riding has enriched Harrison’s life.

“I like the freedom it gives you,” Harrison said. “I like the fact that I am not adding to the carbon footprint, and I like the exercise. There are all kinds of statistics about how people who are active add years to their lives.”

When he got married, he sparked the interest for biking in his wife, Julia. 

“That’s when she began to cycle in earnest,” Harrison said.

One of the best aspects of riding a bike for Harrison is spending quality time his wife, said Harrison.

“It’s something we do together,” Harrison said.

The family made Tullahoma their home in 2006.

“We weren’t here a week and a member of the club introduced me to a ride,” Harrison said. “And I started riding with the club. Three years after that, I became the president.”


Ride of Silence

Harrison and his wife took part in the Ride of Silence in Tullahoma last week.

On May 15, the club joined other cycling organizations across the world in a ceremony to honor the bicyclists who have lost their lives on the road and to encourage riders and drivers alike to be alert.

The Ride of Silence was held at Frazier McEwen Park and began with a brief ceremony at 6:45 p.m., followed by a slow and solemn ride along Jackson Street at 7 p.m.

Rick Orzino, of Tullahoma, was one of the participants in the ride. Orzino has been a member of the Highland Rim Bicycle Club for 20 years.

“I like the friendship and the health value,” Orzino said.



Become a member

The annual membership fee is $20 per individual and $25 per family.

For more information about the Highland Rim Bicycle Club, visit www.hrbike.org.

Elena Cawley may be reached at ecawley@tullahomanews.com.