Danville Express

Living - September 21, 2007

Cruisin' Danville

It's exercise, it's a hobby, but mainly it's fun

by Geoff Gillette

Drive down Hartz Boulevard on any given night and you'll see an amazing variety of vehicles, from Porsches to classic cars to motorcycles. But every Tuesday for the last few months, you also might have see a line of Beach Cruiser Bicycles lined up in front of Norm's Place. Each Tuesday night, members of Norm's Place Cruiser Club gathered for a leisurely ride through the downtown.

Norm's Place owner Justin Walsh, his fiancee Cindy Toomey and his brother Brandon were the architects of the club. Justin said the club started in early July as a means of sharing their love of Beach Cruisers and having fun at the same time.

"We've been riding beach cruisers since college," he said. "Cindy and Brandon already had cruisers so I went out and got one and we started riding."

"We thought it would be fun and a nice way to get the community involved," added Brandon.

The way the cruiser club works is people would ride their bikes down to Norm's Place around 7 p.m. Tuesday. The bike has to be a Beach Cruiser and the rider has to be wearing the club vest.

"They're just jean jackets with the sleeves cut off," Justin said. "You have to wear your vest, though, or you can't get a patch."

Each week, the cruisers ride a different route around town and at the end of the ride they are given a patch to put onto their vests. In addition, each cruiser is given a nickname by Brandon, which is then written on the vest.

"We know it's not the right nickname unless the person really hates it," said Cindy with a laugh.

Many of the rides have themes, such as the Poker Ride, where riders were given a clue to a location around town. Once they arrived, they drew a card from a deck and were given the next clue. After solving all five clues they would go back to Norm's and show their cards. The person with the best poker hand won a prize.

Another rides was a hill climb, up Starview Drive.

"Not many people liked that one," Brandon said.

"Beach cruisers really aren't the best bikes for a hill climb," added Justin.

The length of the rides is only a few miles.

"We usually ride out for about 15 minutes to a secret location where I've left a treasure chest of cold beverages. Then we socialize and hang out for about 15 minutes and then we ride back," said Justin.

"It's pretty mellow, we mostly talk and ride. We don't get too crazy," Cindy added.

Brandon said the best part has been seeing the club grow and seeing new and different people on each ride.

"We get guys in our 50s, all the way down to 7 and 8-year-old kids," he said.

Their longest ride to date had around 45 participants and the bikes were lined up along half the block.

"That was cool to see, all those bikes riding out together," Brandon added.

The weekly event has started attracting groups who come each week. Cindy said there is a group of eighth-grade girls they call "The Sherberts," due to their colorful bikes, who ride every week. And there's a large group of moms from Greenbrook Elementary School - over time, the moms have became known as the "Cruzin' Cougars" and even made up shirts with their own logo, which reads, "We collect toys not boys."

One of the Cougars, Michelle Lynch, said this is their weekly girls' night out.

"We come to Norm's and wear our shirts and vests and go for a ride," she said. "We have a great time."

The Cougars ride a variety of cruisers, including a tandem beach cruiser.

Youngsters come along for the ride as well. Eight-year-old Ryan Toomey, Cindy's daughters, has gone on most of the rides this summer.

"My favorite ride was the Poker Run," she said. "I had fun going to the different places and I won the prize for the little kids."

Another rider, 12-year-old Julia Anderson, rides with her mom Amy, one of the Cruzin' Cougars. On Julia's second ride, she was looking forward to more.

"It's really fun. I get to meet new people," she said. "We talk to each other and get to know each other. And it's a fun workout."

But as darkness begins to come earlier and earlier, what will that mean for the Cruise Club? Justin Walsh said he thinks their time may be limited.

"It's getting harder and harder for people to come out, due to school, work and other commitments," he said. "Plus it's getting darker. I think we can go through September, but October is going to be dicey."

Justin said just because the Cruise Club won't be getting out on the roads doesn't mean the members won't still be active.

"Danville Parks and Recreation has a dodgeball league. We're thinking about joining up for that so our riders can keep getting exercise during the off season," he said.

And the cruisers will be back next year. Cindy thinks they will start up again late in the spring and start collecting more patches.

"Oh, we'll definitely be back next year," she said. "This is too much fun not to keep doing it."


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