It was the summer of 2020, and Harlan Hodge was feeling isolated. The pandemic had taken a toll on his psyche, and he felt he needed to reconnect with the community.

So one Sunday, Hodge, his wife, and her two sisters decided to go for a long bike ride. It felt uplifting, and they agreed to make it a weekly event. On the third Sunday, he posted about the ride on Facebook. Others wanted in. After six weeks, the group had ballooned to 20 people, and by the end of the summer, about 50 people — most of them African-American — were riding together every weekend. And so began Black People Bike, one of the area’s newest and largest Black-focused cycling contingents.

Black People Bike

“We talk, we laugh, we stop often,” said Hodge of the group he co-founded. “If you’re preparing for the Tour de France, this is not the group for you. Every time we ride, somebody’s responsible for having a basket on their bike to carry snacks.”

The group, which now numbers more than 100, rides every Sunday throughout the St. Louis area for 10 to 15 miles. (The route varies each weekend and often ends with a group lunch.) The group also hosts “crack of dawn” rides at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Some members now wear custom cycling kits, but Hodge is quick to point out that these are optional. He wants to make sure nobody feels intimidated.

“We tell people to bring the bike that’s in their basement,” said Hodge. “Just come a little early, and we’ll patch it up and get it functional.”

Two members of Black People Bike. (Great Rivers Greenway)

So, members of Black People Bike don’t have to be world-class cyclists. They also don’t have to be Black.

“It’s not exclusive to Black people,” said Hodge. “It’s intentional for Black people. We’re not waving anyone away, but we want to make sure that we’ve created a space where Black people feel comfortable.”

The group organizes Black-focused events, like a Saturday ride this past April when they toured several Black-owned businesses on North Florissant Avenue. Last year, some members traveled to Atlanta for One Love, the largest Black biking event in the country. The whole idea, said Hodge, is to bring people together to enhance well-being.

“I’m passionate about the health of Black folks,” said Hodge, who works in healthcare education. “When we look at issues like heart disease, obesity, and stress, many of these things can be resolved through healthy relationships.”

Regulators Cycling Club

Unlike Black People Bike, Regulators Cycling Club was not formed during the pandemic. It was, however, transformed by it.

The club has been around since 2013. Back then, LaMont Gordon, a lifelong St. Louis resident, was finding that activities like basketball were becoming a bit too rough on his body, but he still wanted to stay in shape. So, he and a few friends hopped on their bikes and hit the MCT Trails in Madison County, Illinois.

“When we started, we didn’t see a lot of African-Americans on bikes,” recalled Gordon. “So when we ran into Black folks, we’d stop and chat.”

A member of the Regulators Cycling Club. (Great Rivers Greenway)

Gradually they started adding people to their Saturday morning rides. The next year, they started traveling. The first event was the Tour de Corn in East Prairie, Missouri. Gordon and his crew showed up in T-shirts and gym shorts and saw everyone else decked out like Lance Armstrong circa 2005.

“We thought, oh wow, this is different,” said Gordon. “We said, we gotta start looking the part.”

Cycling kits were quickly ordered, but the group also needed a name. For this, they turned to the song that group co-founder Jerome Smart liked to blast before every weekend ride: “Regulate” by Warren G featuring Nate Dogg. Thus, the Regulators were born.

The Regulators saw a dramatic increase in membership in 2020 (“In those early days of the pandemic, people couldn’t do nothing but cycle,” noted Gordon), and now they ride together most Tuesday evenings. Because the group is so large (more than 280 members), it splits into four groups: A, B, C, and D. The A group rides about 22 miles; the D group, around 10.

As with Black People Bike, you don’t have to be Black to be a Regulator. In fact, one founder of the Regulators is white.

The biggest differences between the two groups? Whereas Black People Bike uses a healthy mix of trails and roads, the Regulators stick mainly to roads. They also generally ride more miles and make fewer stops. But Gordon insisted the Regulators don’t take things too seriously. And a few people are members of both groups.

“The best part is the family-oriented environment that we create, the love and compassion for people,” said Gordon. “If you’re a member of the Regulators, you never have to ride alone.”

Members of Regulators Cycling Club ride across Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. (Great Rivers Greenway)

The 411

Black People Bike

Founded: 2020

What it is: Bike group

Inspiration for name: The group Black Men Run

Number of members: More than 100

Annual dues: None

Objectives: To ride, laugh, and stop often — and most of all, to create healthy social connections that lead to better health




Founded: 2013

What it is: Cycling club

Inspiration for name: The Warren G song

Number of members: More than 280

Annual dues: $30 (but free to ride with them)

Objectives: To use cycling as a means to better health, to connect with communities, and to educate people about cycling


Author: Shawn Donnelly is the managing editor of Terrain Magazine.

Top image: Harlan Hodge (right) with a fellow member of Black People Bike. (Great Rivers Greenway)