The Rapidian

Grand Rapids Vintage Bicycle Club travels in style through downtown

The Grand Rapids Vintage Bicycle Club members venture out on their first ride of the season.
Underwriting support from:

/Amanda Sterling

Blue skies, a river rising, and Sunday’s Museum Free 4 All provided The Grand Rapids Vintage Bicycle Club with an ArtPrize-esque atmosphere for the club’s first ride of the year: "The Tour de Bridges." The city’s seven bridges were on the itinerary, but the Grand River had risen so high over the weekend that sections of the riverside path were submerged and several bridges (including the Fulton Street Bridge) were closed as the club ventured out after fueling up on brunch at Stella’s on Commerce Street.

Established in 2009 by Ted Oostendorp of East Grand Rapids, The Grand Rapids Vintage Bicycle Club attracts vintage bicycle collectors and bike enthusiasts from all over West Michigan. Oostendorp and his family have been restoring vintage bikes for several years and recalled the Craigslist ad that resulted in the club’s first event.

“It was February 2009. I put an ad on Craigslist in the bicycle section saying, Does anybody out there like old vintage bicycles? If so, I am going to be at The Derby Station at 7 o’clock on this date wearing a red striped shirt," he recalls. "Three people responded. We visited and talked about what we wanted to do, got involved with Facebook, and the club just grew and grew.”

The group not only meets regularly in the warmer months to work on bikes in Ted’s garage, it has also become a vibrant social club where members gather to eat, drink, and to build community. As Oostendorp notes, “The most important thing [about the club], even more so than the bicycles, is the relationships.”

Sue Curran, a friend of the Oostendorps and one of the group’s first members, enlisted the club’s help in finding a purple ’63 Schwinn. When she learned that Schwinn did not begin selling purple bikes until 1965, she happily accepted a violet ’68 Hollywood. Since then she added a second gear on the back and has ridden her Schwinn to Cedar Springs and back. 

“I never got a bike of my own as a kid," she beams. "Now I’ve got one and it’s beautiful.”

Longtime member Todd Morris of Rockford, also a member of the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition, was already busy planning the club’s May event during the bridge ride as he chatted with Lindsey Ruffin, Executive Director of the Eastown Community Association. Tentative plans for the mid-May ride include a pit stop at Harmony Brewing in Eastown and a ride around Reed’s Lake.

Interested in joining the club? Check out The Grand Rapids Vintage Bicycle Club Facebook page for more info.

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