Helen Wright found a Schwinn bike back in Michigan for $20 and bought it, figuring she may want to ride after she arrived at Bentsen Palm RV Park in Mission.
She did not realize at the time how much she would be using it.
Wright, a first-year Winter Texan, can now be found along the road or on some Valley trails as part of a growing contingent of bikers at Bentsen Palm. The group, which has about a dozen “members” has been quickly growing in just a few weeks, more than likely encouraged by the near-perfect weather – that seems to have arrived about the same time many of the Bentsen Palm bikers arrived.
“The wind followed us down,” said one rider, Cal, who arrived from North Dakota just about a month ago and is a first-time Winter Texan as well. “I found a work camper job here and was looking to do something this winter. We brought them down for a little riding. We had our little route up there in North Dakota but didn't know where to go down here so we met up with this group. I need to get in shape anyway.”
On this day, riders just moseyed around on the streets within the park, but they have other routes prepped including about an eight-mile ride to the World Birding Center and back.
Lenny Mais, an Iowan and yet another first-timer in Texas, was riding his fat bike, a wide-tired bike good for sand (like at the Island) and snow (not like at the Island…or the Valley) and often times used in extreme endurance races such as the Extreme Muck Ruck competition which includes boulders and chest-deep mud to trek through. Mais is not using that for those purposes however, but it more than likely comes in handy on some of the sand-like trails nearby.
“We wanted to get a little warmer this winter,” Mais said. “I found Work Camper on Facebook, made a couple calls and next thing I knew, we were on our way.”
Wright said the $20 investment into her bike was well worth it, and with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting lives across the country, things like biking or walking is becoming more and more popular. Some of the people in the group purchased bikes since arriving.
“We arrived on Labor Day and I thought I'd get a chance to ride and then we met all these people,” Wright said. “We've gone down the road and we've tried some trails. It's been a good time, and we've seen a lot of cactus on the trails.”
Mais said the group just started and is hoping to expand the number of trails and trips it takes. He said with the Valley wind, the distance they travel is like a serious hour or two of mountain biking, minus the mountains and add the wind.
“When we're riding in the morning it's windy but that will drop down later in the afternoons,” Maid said. “We go out about 2-3 times a week and may end up going more. It's an enjoyable time and the weather has been great.”
The group does not have a specific goal for distance or any firm rules and regulations. They do have one general goal, however, according to Mais.
“Have fun and don't fall down and break any bones.”