Flying high

Bike club rides through Mt Laurel

Story by Clarke Stackhouse

Photo by Contributed and Courtesy of Chronotrack.com

 

Full-time careers, full-time parents and part-time “adrenaline junkies” make up the members of the 41 Flyers, a Mt Laurel bicycle club that formed in 2011.

Michael O’Kelley had a part in helping the group come together and said it has been so much fun to have the camaraderie and exercise the group allows.

“We’re not so much of an organized club,” O’Kelley said. “We’re just a few dudes that get together for training rides and occasional races.”

O’Kelley said when the group was first starting out they were able to be sponsored by two local businesses, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Cahaba Cycles.  With the help of the sponsors, O’Kelley said they were able to make a few equipment upgrades and get jerseys and shorts with the team name on them.

“It was a great opportunity to have sponsors,” he said. “It happened so quickly after we formed and some of us still have those jerseys and wear them to different races.”

He said the group started with around four guys and grew to about six members at its largest. O’Kelley said they mainly get together for early morning bike rides before work and have done a few races together.

“We all live in and around Mt Laurel and the Highway 41 corridor,” O’Kelley said. “We started calling ourselves the 41 Flyers and it just kind of stuck.”

While O’Kelley said the majority of the 41 Flyers rides are together in the early morning excursions before work, he said they have competed in a few races since forming. The most recent was the Austin Rattler 100K solo race.

O’Kelley said he and two of the other flyers, Brian Parker and Chad Scroggins, competed in the event and they plan to again next year.

“It’s been great to have this group of guys to get together and just ride,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed being able to travel to races with them and their wives and the camaraderie it brings to ride and race together.”

Many racers from across the country get ready to compete in the Austin Rattler 100K solo bike race.

Many racers from across the country get ready to compete in the Austin Rattler 100K solo bike race.

Scroggins said he has ridden with the flyers the past couple of years and loves the experience it brings.

“I’ve been biking with them off and on for about three years,” he said. “We like to joke that I put in my application but never got a response back.”

Scroggins said racing in Austin was a great experience despite the challenges he faced that allowed him not to finish the race.

“The race is a 100K which is about 60 or so miles,” Scroggins said. “At about 24 miles I was involved in a multi-bike crash and ended up with a broken rib.”

Scroggins said the rib isn’t what stopped his race. He said he continued for another three miles and then had to stop due to a cut in his tire.

“I would’ve kept on going,” he said. “It’s probably better I had to stop, but I look forward to returning next year.”

O’Kelley and Scroggins said they both like how being a part of the club helps them keep in shape.

“We’re all crossing over into our early 40s and being able to ride 15 or so miles three times a week has helped us all keep in shape pretty well,” Scroggins said.

O’Kelley said he started biking in college at Auburn when he didn’t have a car and was happy to be able to find a group of guys to ride with when he and his family moved to Mt Laurel.

“It just kind of casually happened,” he said. “We were a group that got together for the joy of riding and it’s been so much fun.”

Scroggins said he had always enjoyed mountain biking in high school growing up in Pleasant Grove and enjoys still doing the endurance races with the flyers.

“It’s a great group of guys,” Scroggins said. “We are able to meet, ride and talk about our lives, work and families. It’s become sort of like a men’s Bible study on wheels.”

As the flyers wheel into the club’s sixth year, O’Kelley, Scroggins and the rest of the flyers are looking forward to the thrills, highs and lows of endurance racing and the camaraderie and enjoyment of their early morning rides.