Why I Ride – Rich Rifkin

Rich Rifkin, in the Davis Bike Club jersey, second from the right. The group of four riders was climbing Mount Etna in Siskiyou County. They rode 117 miles to the coast, climbing over 11,000 feet along the way. This was in 2018.

By Jennifer Ann Gordon

“I love to ride for the health!” said Davis Enterprise political columnist and former associate editor for The Economist, Rich Rifkin. Living out in the country far from downtown Davis, a lot of Rifkin’s riding is scenic touring with friends and participating in organized rides.

“I set goals for myself,” he said. For example, Rifkin will be riding his 1979 Peugeot 82 gorgeous, challenging miles in Eroica California, a vintage bike tour which begins in Cambria, April 7. And, oh has he been training…no clip-in cycling shoes, just metal toe cages and a heavy old bike. Yes, Rifkin’s going vintage all the way. Rifkin explained that part of the challenge with the longer rides is getting one’s butt accustomed to being in the saddle for long periods. “Cycling takes you places you otherwise wouldn’t go,” said Rifkin. “When you ride 75 miles on your bike, you see 75 miles of nature. When you’re in your car, you don’t see anything.”

“Biking is not a political statement. It’s about balance, and mental, physical and social health.”


Growing up in Davis, Rifkin rode his bike a lot—to and from school, on weekends, all summer, after school. He began riding at three years old and rode on through high school. “I totally endorse Bike Campaign founder and director Maria Contreras Tebbutt’s campaign to get young kids riding bikes. If you don’t grow up riding a bicycle, you don’t think of it as an option.”

“Biking doesn’t break down your body like a lot of other things. You can ride so late in life. Look at Wes Yates.”

Rifkin’s advice for people who are uneasy about biking? “Start on a stationary bike. You’ll get the same muscle workout. Then practice in an open playground. Build up your confidence with easy things. Get used to balancing.”

Rifkin said he learned from running that you begin where you’re able, and then extend yourself, i.e., do a little more every week. “I’ve also learned in the last couple of years how to approach biking with high intensity—sprint, slowdown, repeat,” said Rifkin. “I like hard work.”

The “Why I Ride” article series is produced by The Bike Campaign. For more information, visit www.thebikecampaign or email Director Maria Contreras Tebbutt at funmaria@sbcglobal.net . Drive less. Bike more. THE BIKE CAMPAIGN.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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