Cycling With: Bob Walker, Founder of "The Lawyer’s Ride”
Today we are cycling with Bob Walker, the founder of the Tuesday/Thursday evening group ride affectionately called the Lawyer’s Ride. Bob graduated from high school in Yazoo City and attended college at Ole Miss. Through the years, he and his family have lived, and he practiced law, in Gulfport, Mississippi and Houston, Texas, prior to coming to Jackson. As his children were leaving the nest, Bob and his wife decided, in 1999, to "return home” to Mississippi from Texas. He practices law with the Wells Marble firm, in Ridgeland, where a large
part of his cycling originates.
Robert, how did you get into cycling?
As with some other "former” runners, in my case, meaning "old”, I saw cycling as a means of exercise, while enjoying the sport and camaraderie associated with cycling. Some of my friends were cyclists, so I jumped in.
I am told you are the "founder” of the highly popular Tuesday/Thursday night "Lawyer’s Ride”. How did it get started?
Several years ago, some friends and I, mainly lawyers, just started riding together near our offices on Highland Colony. We rode, and still ride, weather and daylight permitting on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Over time folks would see us riding and ask to join in. The group riding from our offices has since expanded to include riders of various strengths and objectives. The rides very often will start with a number of riders that are members of local racing teams, and/or are otherwise just pretty fast. Some of the rest of us try to form "group rides” that tend to stay together at slower speeds than the "fast group”. The name "Lawyer’s Ride” probably comes more from the location, our law offices, than the fact that some of the early participants were lawyers. We now see more non-lawyers than lawyers on the normal Tuesday/Thursday rides which is probably a good thing. Our group of about 50 cyclists stays in touch through an email message board, that allows us to get together on weekends and coordinate and participate, with the other cyclists in our area in rides that are sponsored or arranged by other groups, local bike shops, and charitable organizations.
So these groups consist of pretty fast cyclists?
The first and fastest group is a collection of riders that often includes members of racing teams and generally faster riders. This ride will usually cover 30 -40 miles depending on the time of year and conditions, and regularly average speeds above 20 mph. Often cyclists report a good time trying to "hang on” with the faster riders.
The second group is made up of riders more aimed at maintaining a "group” effort, meaning the use of pace line rules and cycling etiquette. Depending on the terrain and conditions of the route and time of year, this group may average 19-20 mph for 25 -35 miles.
Can anyone join the Lawyers Ride?
Regarding the group ride, it has been our practice to welcome anyone who wants to ride with the group. Members of the group ride should be comfortable in a pace line at speeds that the group maintains which is often 19 – 20 mph for distances of 25 to 40 miles. The group ride main objective is, through utilizing group riding techniques and practices, to be safe and go as fast as the group will allow. This group does not intend to drop any rider – but also expects that riders joining in are comfortable with the expected pace, distance and terrain.
Where do the rides start?
Both rides start from the parking lot of Wells Marble – 300 Concourse Boulevard, right off Highland Colony in Ridgeland.
When do you think the rides will start back up?
We expect to start the regular (but perhaps shorter) rides on Tuesday, March 11, 2014. As the days get longer, the rides distances may get longer. As the cyclists’ fitness levels improve, through the spring and summer, the average speeds may also increase.
Thanks for sharing the details with us. So, where is your favorite place to ride?
I like riding with friends, so places that are convenient for groups are popular. The North Trace, Madison County, and the Flora/Pocahontas areas are all attractive.
What is your favorite cycling event?
Some of my most enjoyable cycling events have been arranged and supported by organizations and towns in Mississippi, such as the Natchez Trace Century ride in Ridgeland, Cruising Clinton on the July 4th in Clinton and Bikes Blues & Bayous in Greenwood. These rides provide great opportunities to participate in cycling events and to get to know and ride with people from all over the state and region.
What do you do when not cycling?
Other than time spent with family and my grandchildren, I enjoy hunting and following Ole Miss athletics.
If you could ride anywhere in the world that you have never ridden before, where would it be?
I would like to try one of the large rides, like a gran fondo, associated with one of the Grand Tours (Giro, Vuelta or Tour de France). More realistically, I hope, with a group of friends, to ride some of the larger events in the U.S. like the Hotter’N Hell Hundred in Wichita Falls, Texas.