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Breakfast Club Is Paving the Way for a More Inclusive Cycling Community

Each month, Austin cyclists of all ages and skill levels gather for a bike ride and an epic after party

Some enjoy the simplicity of riding bikes, while others ride for parallel experiences that oftentimes come with the sport: unbridled eating and drinking, breathtaking views and like-minded people with whom to take in the enjoyment of it all.

Breakfast Club started as a group of four friends who understood that the fun of riding bikes extended far beyond the time in the saddle. In early 2020, they started meeting at Carpenters Hall every Saturday morning, from there they would leave for a two-hour ride, followed by many more hours of hanging out, eating and chatting. This way, even though they all had different skill levels and paces, they reconvened at the end to share an afternoon of good food and conversation.

“It started as an outlet to be a bit more casual and not take the riding component so seriously, to have the social aspect and community connection be the focus,” says Grant Rogers, co-founder and “head chef” of Breakfast Club.

Others started hearing about the ride and, before long, about 20 people were showing up every week. When the pandemic hit, they paused riding for a few months. However, Breakfast Club continued to have an online presence, and when the rides started back up, they were bigger than ever. When the number of riders neared 100, they moved to larger venues and split into multiple ride groups.

For many, it was a social haven during the lonelier pandemic days. “We provided this outdoor opportunity to come and hang out and provide that connection,” Rogers comments.

Today, Breakfast Club hosts monthly group rides, usually out of Central Machine Works, where hundreds of riders of different levels show up to ride their bikes for two hours, followed by an epic after-party. The riders split into four groups, each with a different pre-designated route depending on skill level. The A Group is the fastest, and usually rides about 40 miles at over 20 miles per hour, while the D group has a much shorter route and slower pace. The B and C groups are somewhere in between, averaging 15-20 miles per hour over 30-40 miles. Breakfast Club ride leaders accompany the groups to keep them on the route and assist with mechanicals. Police cars escort the riders on their routes out of town, providing riders with additional safety.

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After two hours of riding, which starts around 8 a.m., no matter which group you go with, everyone circles back to the starting point for a party full of food, drink, photos and laughter. Oftentimes it lasts well into the afternoon, longer than the ride itself.

Typically group rides are organized by bike shops, which are incentivized to bring more riders in where they hopefully buy something from time to time. However, the shops aren’t reliant on revenue from group rides to stay in business since they have other patrons coming in to make high-dollar bike purchases. With no physical location, Breakfast Club has to do things differently to cover expenses like police escorts and ride leader kits. So they partner with brands and venues that help supply the whole operation with nutrition, gear, event space and funding. They also sell Breakfast Club swag, including t-shirts and water bottles, on their website. Some partners they work with include Pas Normal Studios (a cycling apparel company) and Specialized Austin.

When I attended the monthly ride in April, I didn’t know what to expect. I had been to plenty of Breakfast Club rides before, most of them starting from Central Machine Works and then heading out of town. This one, however, was different. It began in Round Rock at the headquarters of one of their latest partners, Bare Performance Nutrition. Because it was far up north (most of us drove to the start, although there was a group of folks who rode from town), I anticipated a much lower turnout. However, it ended up being the largest Breakfast Club ride with more than 500 riders who showed up ready to ride their bikes through beautiful country roads.

Since I braved the A group, I rode tucked in a large, fast group at more than 22 miles per hour on exposed roads lined with vast cornfields and wildflowers. The group split into smaller groups, but everyone checked on each other throughout. My friend April who I drove with gave me one of her water bottles since I didn’t have time to fill mine up before the group left. Near the end of the ride, when I was about to lose the group after a hill, my friend, Dave, seemingly out of nowhere, pulled me back on by encouraging me to draft on his wheel as he did the work to get us back on.

We came back to the start — around the same time as the other three groups — ready for breakfast. There were free pancakes and coffee for all as well as t-shirts to commemorate the partnership. You could even purchase a limited Breakfast Club edition Cinnamon Roll protein made by BPN. The whole morning was one to remember, and I came home feeling full from a hearty breakfast and a fantastic community.

There are plenty of other regular group rides in Austin, but nothing close to the magnitude of the community around Breakfast Club. “We provide an outlet for people to come together and feel part of something bigger when they have different riding capabilities,” says Rogers. It’s not about structured training or going as fast as possible; the bigger mission of Breakfast Club is making the cycling community more inclusive and fun, and that doesn’t stop with the monthly co-ed rides. They also host “rider leader pop-ups” that are more sporadic and smaller — but just as fun as the huge monthly rides — and leave from The Meteor on South Congress Saturday mornings. And, unforgettably, the weekly women’s-only “Babes Ride.”

Breakfast Club CEO Jordie Whittle (a.k.a. “Mom”) is responsible for all experiential operations for rides, including Babes. “It has been a personal mission of mine to bring more women into the sport of cycling that is vastly male-dominated,” she says. “I had a cold entry into cycling and had to figure a lot out on my own. With the Babes, I want women to feel comfortable learning about the sport and building community.”

Every Wednesday, 30 to 40 ladies of all skill levels show up to climb some hills (including Mount Bonnell), regrouping throughout the ride so that no one gets left behind. Afterward, the group rolls back to The Meteor to hang out and drink wine together. Much like the monthly ride, the mission is much bigger than fitness. It’s about an authentic community for adults of varying backgrounds, skill levels and interests — aside from the obvious shared interest in riding bikes.

The Breakfast Club is lowering the barrier of entry for cycling. If you see hundreds of riders mobbing through downtown on Saturday morning (with police escorts as accomplices in their street takeover), you can be pretty sure it’s Breakfast Club. Better yet, grab a bike and ride with them yourself!

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