Mary Ann Terrall rediscovered bicycling last Saturday.

Mary Ann Terrall rediscovered bicycling last Saturday.

"The beauty of biking is you never forget what you learned as a kid," says Terrall. "The real difficulty is dealing with traffic, dogs and walkers."

Terrall, 63, and nine other bicyclists rode together in the first of five guided Saturday bicycle rides organized by Siskiyou Velo, the Rogue Valley's largest bicycle club.

"I have a goal," Terrall explains. "To ride my bike to work instead of the car, but I have a fear of riding on the street, with traffic."

Terrall runs a marriage and family counseling business in downtown Medford, but lives in Ashland. She hopes to make the 13-mile trip primarily on the Bear Creek Greenway.

Last Saturday's ride covered six miles on the streets of Ashland and on the bike path. The ride began at Ashland Bicycle Works, where store owner Tim Schurr donated his time verifying that each bicycle was road-ready.

Safety and having fun are the core concepts taught to adult beginners, according to group leader Phil Gagnon.

"We go over hand signals, calling out 'on your left' when you pass on the bike path, wearing colorful clothes to increase visibility with drivers, and lights for night riding," says Gagnon.

Gagnon formed the group — dubbed the "Slo-Mo's" — last year to encourage adults over 50 to spend some of their road time on two wheels instead of four.

"It was a very friendly ride, we were all laughing a lot," says Gagnon. "Sociability is a big part of the group rides. We stopped for coffee at the turnaround point and I had trouble getting everyone back on their bikes."

The remaining rides will be longer, starting with 11 miles tomorrow, and 14 miles for the final three Saturday outings. Each trip will explore a different part of the Rogue Valley. It's part of Gagnon's plan to introduce challenges to each ride in a measured progression.

"We start in parks where there's no traffic," Gagnon explains. "We take them gradually to areas with climbs, but at a low speed so everyone can catch up."

Riding as a group can be reassuring, especially in the event of a flat tire.

"Changing my own tire? I'll bring a cell phone and call AAA," says Terrall. "Seriously, I need to liberate myself from needing others to do it for me."

One experienced bicyclist is using the Slo-Mo's group as a way to ease back into the sport after a layoff.

"I've been a biker since '92," says Marlene Fazio. "I've had some health issues recently and didn't know if I could get back on my bike."

Fazio, 77, is a retired Providence hospital administrator who lives in Talent. Her past freewheeling exploits include two tours with Cycle Oregon, a tour through Norway, and two Sierra-to-Coast trips.

This trip reinforced her desire to keep pedaling.

"Biking is for all levels, for all ages," Fazio says. "The friends you make, the scenery, is wonderful. It was a fun day."

Gagnon expects up to 15 people to join tomorrow's outing, which begins in Blue Heron Park in Phoenix. On the final ride, June 11, Siskiyou Velo will treat riders to a picnic in Bear Creek Park.

"It will be a chance to celebrate, and to see how many people want to continue the Slo-Mo's," says Gagnon.

Perhaps the best part of rediscovering bicycling as an adult is what you notice when the wind tickles your face.

"You see the flowers, trees and architecture," says Terrall. "Things you don't see in a car because you have to pay attention to driving."

For more information on Siskiyou Velo, see www.siskiyouvelo.org.

Daniel Newberry is a freelance writer living in the Applegate Valley. Reach him at dnewberry@jeffnet.org