Ten o’clock Thursday morning, February 5th, 2016. Some areas of the West, Midwest, and East are being bludgeoned by snow. Not here. St. George’s winter sun is already warming up for a day that will reach fifty-plus degrees. Ten members of the SunRiver Bicycle Group assemble in the growing warmth at the south end of the community center. In the small parking lot next to what they have affectionately dubbed, “Art’s Rock,” they check tires, brakes and gears, and snug on gloves for this morning’s ride.
They start out the ride in a compact group, but over the next 25-30miles, as riders settle in to individual paces they will spread out and ride at their own comfort levels. It’s not competition that drives the group; it’s sunshine, health, camaraderie, and the joy of riding.
SunRiver’s bicycle group welcomes new riders who want to join the fun. If you like to bike, go to the community’s website and check the box for information about the bicycling group; and then keep an eye on your email box. Each month the group’s president, Art Miller, sends out the bicycle group’s email to one-hundred eighty residents. “On average we have about ten riders show up,” Art said. “In bad weather, less, in good weather, more.”
John Donnel started the SunRiver Bicycle Group many years ago. When he reached eighty-six, he decided the weekly 25-30 mile bike rides were getting a little long, and turned the group’s leadership over to Art.
If you are a casual bicycle rider, and not sure you want to challenge yourself to a 25 mile ride, take heart. Art only began bicycling in earnest about six years ago. “I believe in the importance of exercise to lengthen and improve the quality of life,” he said. “I know diet and exercise is important, but my diet is terrible, so I try make up for my diet with more exercise. Biking is much easier on my joints than most other forms of exercise.”
Art is a U.S. Army veteran, and he and his wife Ginger have been SunRiver residents for fifteen years. The story of how he became a resident mirrors many others. Over fifteen years ago, he and his wife Ginger flew from Denver into Phoenix. They toured retirement communities there, Las Vegas, and Tucson and decided they liked the community concept.
New Year’s Eve, 1999. While staying in an RV in Mesquite, a SunRiver billboard caught their eye. They decided to drive into St George and look around. They arrived at the sales office at closing time, too late to visit a model, talk to a sales person, or do anything but pick up a brochure. “We’ll come back tomorrow,” Art told the last person in the sales office. “We won’t be open,” she said. “It’s New Year’s Day.”
Art and Ginger had planned to move to another stop on January 1st. After looking over the brochure, they decided to postpone their departure and stay an extra day so they could tour the model homes and look around the community.
They toured a new section and, on impulse, like many residents, ended up picking out a lot and a home plan. “We had no intention of making a decision that soon,” Art said. “Saint George for one, and SunRiver for another, just grabs you. I’ve talked to a number of residents out here with similar stories. SunRiver looks good, and is good. Darcy does oodles of good things. I think he’s really doing what he should be doing.”
Art’s background as a civil engineer specializing in land surveying and subdivision site design development gave him an edge when he and Ginger selected their lot. “Darcy has done a very good job on SunRiver,” Art said. “And Saint George has done a good job developing the city and dealing with their growth. We’re so damn lucky to have found SunRiver and to be living here.”
Art and Ginger have been active in the community since their arrival. He helped start the SunRiver Hiking Club, is active in pickleball, and is the current president of the bicycle group. Ginger helped start the pottery club, and both of them were involved in starting the duplicate bridge and party bridge clubs.
The Miller’s enjoyed living in SunRiver so much that Art’s sister decided to move here as well. As Art talked with his sister over the kitchen table about moving here, he told her firmly, “Get involved in something, or many things. You’ll have a much better experience here.” She enjoyed living here so much that even though she married and moved to her new husband’s home in California, after a year, they moved back to SunRiver.
The SunRiver Bicycle Group meets every Thursday morning. Do you enjoy bicycling? Does the ride sound like a great way to start the morning? Even if the distance is farther than you’re used to, if you’re ready to ramp up your routine, ride on over to the community center and meet up with the group in the south parking lot. Just look for Art’s rock and bicycles.
Article: Jon Thompson | Photography: Kinzie Madsen