Early History of the Club
In the late 1970's, a group of University of Florida students began meeting for rides, and called themselves the UF Cycling Club. In 1981, they were still meeting, but since most of them had graduated, they changed their name to the Gainesville Cycling Club. An early motivating force behind formalizing the club was the owner of the Pedalers Bike Shop, Mike Cochran. He was instrumental in getting discounts for club members at bike shops and in getting the club affiliated with the League of American Wheelmen.
The first Horse Farm Century Ride was held on November 1, 1981. As the riders headed outbound through Cross Creek, a cold front caught up with them, bringing on rain and a drop of temperatures into the 50's. After traveling through Citra to Ft McCoy and back through Arnold, thunder storms greeted the riders as they passed through horse farm country. The ride concluded with a trip up Long Wacahoota road and finished on SR 121(!). Larry Shroads was the first into the Pedalers Bike Shop, followed by Arnold Betancourt.
The Second Annual Fall Century Ride was run October 3, 1982. Around 30 riders started the ride in pleasant weather. The route reversed the previous year's ride, going out Williston Road to Long Wacahoota Road (CR340), through Flemington, Irvine, and Fairfield, then east past Anthony and through the forest to Ft McCoy, returning via Citra and Cross Creek. The first finisher back to the Pedalers Bike Shop was Roger Pierce of Montgomery, AL, riding time 5 hours one minute. Club members listed on the map were John McNamara and Larry Shroads.
In 1983 the club started a newletter. The club officers were: Chris Jones, President; Arnold Betancourt, Vice President; Beverly Pope, Secretary; Stephen Bottomly, Treasurer; Jim Maurer, Rides Committee Chairman; and Larry Shroads, Publicity Committee Chairman. The May newsletter reported that 15 GCC'ers rode and completed the Cross Florida Ride, and that 13 rode TOSRV South. The July newsletter notes the new bike shop in town (Primo) and proclaims that dues are due ($5). The 3rd Annual Horse Farm Hundred is announced for October 2nd, using a "new and improved route...(which) takes in more Horse Country while avoiding dogs, rain, and headwinds." Registrations were limited to the first 5000 received! An error in Bicycling Magazine misrouted preregistrations, misleading us into making conservative estimates of turnout. "Armed with two Chevy Vegas, one motorcycle, 75 maps, 60 T-shirts and not enough bananas, we were overwhelmed by the turnout of close to a hundred riders." Steve Christon chaired the effort (Steve later completed the Iditerod sled dog race!). The ride schedule for fall of '83 listed one ride for each weekend day, ranging from 10 to 100 miles. There were a couple of campout rides, a swimming ride, a breakfast ride, a brunch ride, and an ice cream ride. There was a campout in a cabin at Gold Head State Park in November and breakfasts at the Sunrise Cafe in Melrose. A Christmas party is announced, which will include a keg and pot luck dishes. Jay Powell is introduced as the first Gainesville full-time bicycle coordinator.
New officers were elected to start 1984: Stephen Bottomly, President; Deborah Hodges, Vice President; Stacie McGuire, Secretary; Chris Jones, Treasurer; Jim Maurer, Rides Committee Chairman; and Beverly Pope, Publicity Committee Chairman. The club became involved in local bicycling issues, which included mandatory bells on all bicycles in Gainesville, mandatory bicycle registration, and a bottle bill. Action is urged to aquire an abandoned railway bed leading to Hawthorne. November saw a new slate of officers elected: Debra Hodges, President; Stacie McGuire, Secretary; Chris Jones, Treasurer; Mike Cochran, Rides Committee Chairman; Beverly Pope, Publicity Committee Chairman. An ominous article on "volunteer burnout" appears. About a 100 cyclists rode the 4th Annual Horse Farm Hundred on October 14.
New officers were elected in time for the Spring '85 newsletter: Dave Mikolaitis, President; Jerry Williams, Vice President; Chris Jones, Treasurer; Mike Cochran, Rides Committee Chairman; and Beverly Pope, Publicity Committee Chairman. Trucks are banned from Millhopper Road. A full schedule of rides is planned, most with designated leaders. The last newsletter done by Beverly Pope was August '85. October 6 is the date for the 5th Horse Farm Hundred, and a Georgia border ride is planned for August 11th.
Dave Mikolaitis was the last elected President of the non-incorporated GCC. When Dave and his wife had children, he ceased acting as President, which was probably in late '86 or early '87. At that time the club entered the era of Grand Poobah Chandler Otis, who reigned until incorporation in the fall of '91.
The Newsletters of early '88 trumpet the upcoming Yellowstone National Park Tour being organized by Jerry Williams. The Wyoming end of the tour was handled by two former GCC members who had formed a touring company (Off the Deep End Tours) there, Tom Sheehan and Jim Maurer, otherwise known as the Beer Brothers. Also discussed is carpooling for TOSRV and a plea for ride leaders. The ride schedule shows several rides denoted as "B."
The March 1989 newsletter had little news, mainly announcing a club meeting and listing a ride schedule. The October 1989 newsletter talks of the upcoming Horse Farm Hundred on November 5, the bike repair project with the Gainesville Police Department, and notes that Travis Mannix, aged 11 months, went on his first GCC ride. The ride schedule for the first time shows a full slate of both "A" and "B" rides.
The record jumps to November 1990, calling the 10th Horse Farm 100 a "Whopping Success." The other article noted the resurfacing of US441.
The February and March 1991 newsletters are notable in that they have the same headline, "Mountain bike ride, picnic coming up." It was the same picnic, but at different mountain bike ride. The 1991 Horse Farm 100 was the last on the original Horse Farm century route. Not counting bandits, 185 riders showed up to ride on a warm October 27 Sunday.
The GCC became a non-profit corporation on October 15, 1991. The initial board of directors was Chandler Otis, President; Richard Walker, Vice President; Bill Cochran, Treasurer; Craig Lee, Recording Secretary; and Roger Pierce, Membership Secretary.
The 1992 Annual Meeting featured the black beans brought by Jim Sanders and Dana Zimmel, the rolls brought by Dave Wagner, and the fig cake brought by Craig Lee. We also elected the following officers for 1992: Craig Lee, President; Kerry Duggan, Vice President (who yielded in September to Jim Sanders); Bill Cochran, Treasurer; Roger Pierce, Membership Secretary; and Chandler Otis, Recording Secretary. The Memorial Day Picnic at Ichetucknee Springs was on a nice hot day, which made jumping in the springs enjoyable. Ditto for the picnic at Poe Springs on August 1. At the final picnic at Payne's Prairie on Labor Day we concentrated on eating hot dogs. The 12th annual Horse Farm Hundred was held on a damp October 4th. Around 170 riders attacked the damp roads and strong southerly winds; turnout would have been much higher with good weather, there were over 50 no shows. Co-chairman for the event were Craig Lee and Bill Cochran.
Many thanks to Beverly Pope and Larry Shroads, who still live in Gainesville raising their two kids and dreaming of being able to ride again, and to Chandler Otis for information contained in this article.
Gainesville Cycling Club Web Site