It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. --- Ernest Hemingway

The history of the Recyclers

The Fab Four (The Beginning)

It was September 2001, Grossmont HS was having its 45th reunion for the class of 56. Four of us guys were standing around talking (some might call it bragging) about our sport hobbies and bicycle riding was mentioned. One of us finally says Okay, we talked about this 5 years ago, lets stop talking about it and do it. A few weeks later, Jerry Damashen, Bob Groff, Don Fritzies & Marty Weiss met in downtown SD for a ride around SD Bay and that was the rollout of the Recyclers.

The Early Years

Not long afterward, the four were joined by Martys friend, Harry Slayen. Bob Groff met, and recruited, Dave Nunez at Performance Bike Shop, who then recruited his friend Brian Thronburg. Marty gave his cousin, Jeff Glen-Levin, a call and soon the Recyclers had doubled in size. Not long afterward, the group grew to include Jerry Jellison, Emil XXXX, Neal Anthony, Bill Sperling, Tom Sidley, Jim Buchner, Hank Steckel, Bernie Giesling, and Bob Calhoun.

The early routes were a small subset of our current selection and included SD Bay, Downtown (to check the construction progress on Petco Park), El Monte Park, Solana Beach and La Jolla. No route slips, just a combination of a general idea of the route and a lot of making it up as we went.

Don Fritzges

No history of the Recyclers could be complete without talking about Don Fritzges. One of the original Fab Four, Don was a traveler, an adventurer and a great story teller. Don was also battling Parkinsons Illness. It didnt stop him from doing occasional rides, even though he lagged behind for most of them. We all looked forward to taking our turns hanging back with Don to hear the great stories of his travels and adventures. In one of his travels, a hiking trip to Copper Canyon in Mexico, Don was struck and killed by a bolt of lightening. Since the San Diego Bay ride was his favorite, the Recyclers call that ride, the Don Fritzges San Diego Bay Ride in his honor.

The San Diego VA and UCSD Connection

The Recyclers remained a small and steadily growing group until Hank Steckel introduced Dennis Webb and Neil Schneider to the Recyclers.

Dennis introduced some of his buddies and soon the Recyclers included Bill Riggs, Dave Buergey and Paul Shragg. We were soon joined by Greta Larson, followed shortly there after by a number of the current Recyclers regulars. About that time, it became apparent there was a great deal of camaraderie and talent in the Recyclers and we decided to take things to the next level. So with the help of Greta Larsons photography and tongue-in-cheek comments, Paul Shraggs making the bulletin and weekly notices something to look forward to with his witty brand of commentary, Neil Schneiders expertise on website building, the Recyclers became the bicycling group that people know of today and that people are proud to associated with.

Da Wagon Master

A group like this needs a driving force and in this case, that force was Da Wagon Master. Developing the club and keeping it together, fell pretty much on the shoulders of Bob Groff, or Da Wagon Master, as he became known. Early on, Bob was the focal point of the Recyclers. Planning rides, sending bulletins, recruiting and the keeping the member list were all part of Bobs weekly activities. The original Recyclers jerseys were designed by Bob and the theme of that artwork can be seen on the 2008 version of the jerseys. Bobs guidance continued on through the fall of 2005, at which time, his wifes illness forced him to cut back on his Recyclers activities. Bob has passed Da Wagon Master batton on to Paul Shragg Da Wagonmaster II. He is still involved in the Recyclers, but in a lesser way. The Recyclers wouldnt be where it is today, without the vision and efforts of Bob Groff, Da Wagon Master. He is also active in the spinoff group of midweek riders know affectionately as the "Rusty Recyclers".

What's in a name?

Sometime in 2003 or 2004, the riders decided to give the group a name. What name and how to decide? A summer picnic in Mission Bay was planned and everyone was asked to submit 2 or 3 names. Ballots with all the names were printed and everyone voted for their favorite 3 names. The 3 names getting the most votes were put on another ballot and an overall favorite was chosen: Recyclers.

If not Recyclers, what other name?
Biking Jocks Old Farts Cycling Club
Not over the hill Bikers Gray Panters
The Freewheelers Rusty Pedalers
X Jocks Lean Mean Sr. Machines
Over 55 and Biking Sr. Sprocketmen
2 Wheels and Heart Sexy Sixty Sr. Cyclists
Recyclers Wayward Riders
Pacemakers Pelicans
Old Sprockets Team Le Tour San Diego
Broken Sprockets Down the Hill Gang
Rusty Sprockets Biciclete Amigos
S.O.B.s (San Diegos Old Bikers) Sandy Egos Cycle Club
This is the list from an original ballot

As the group has evolved, a lot of the names would be inappropriate so perhaps we got lucky. What do you think?