An Ashland bicycle club will hold a series of five Saturday rides beginning this week on the Bear Creek Greenway to teach adults bike safety and encourage them to take to the streets.

An Ashland bicycle club will hold a series of five Saturday rides beginning this week on the Bear Creek Greenway to teach adults bike safety and encourage them to take to the streets.

The Siskiyou Velos bike club, which has more than 300 members in Ashland, will teach adults how to stop correctly, signal and follow traffic laws during the free rides.

The club began the free classes last spring after hearing from other cyclists that they'd like to ride more, but were uneasy traveling on city streets, said organizer Phil Gagnon.

"We like the idea of riding on the Greenway because sometimes people are a little scared to ride on the streets," he said. "But by the end of the class, they should be ready to move out into traffic and streets."

Club members hope the riders will become friends and form their own riding groups after the classes finish, Gagnon said. On each of the 6- to 14-mile rides, participants will stop at a coffee shop to socialize and take a break from exercising.

Riders in last year's group formed the Slo Mos bicycle club, Gagnon said.

Three Velos members, including Gagnon, will lead the classes, riding between 7 and 10 mph.

Gagnon, who began riding when he retired 15 years ago, said more people are becoming interested in cycling as gas prices continue to skyrocket.

"Bicycling is really taking off all over the place because of the cost of gasoline," he said. "People are even talking about doing vacations on bikes now."

The sport is also a refreshing way to exercise outdoors, said Gagnon, who at 79 just bought himself a new "high-tech trike," or three-wheeled bike.

"Obviously, there's the exercise and then being outdoors after a long winter is nice," he said. "You can enjoy the scenery and country roads. There's something very uplifting about it and it has a touch of adventure."

Participants must wear a helmet and sign a waiver to release the Velos club from liability.

This Saturday's ride begins at Ashland Bicycle Works, where owner Tim Schurr will perform a free check of participants' bikes to ensure they are safe to ride. Then, after a short lesson on group riding, the class will head to a coffee shop and the Greenway.

The following rides, on Saturdays through June 11, begin in Medford and Talent.

Gagnon hopes riders who might feel intimidated by the many hard-core cyclists in town will come to the class and learn how to become more comfortable on the road.

"I sense a lot of bicyclists would enjoy a Saturday morning ride with others if the ride were in slow-motion, safe and we stopped along the way for a cup of coffee, to talk to people and make friends," Gagnon said. "What a concept!"

For more information on the class, contact Gagnon at 541-488-4289 or star@mind.net.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.