many of you know, Iíve been riding bicycles seriously since August 1989 at the
young age of 42. Oh, I had a Bridgestone touring bike that I bought in Okinawa
in 1974 at a BX sale for $89 but I never really did more than ride around the
neighborhood with my daughters. In
1989, it was collecting dust and rust in my shop when I dropped into Cycle
Escape, a local bike store, and purchased a Giant Kronos for $350.
This purchase almost put my family into bankruptcy and caused Barbara to
seriously consider leaving me for reasons of insanity.
Since then, I would hate to tally up the amount of money Iíve invested
in cycling but I believe that it was money well spent and itís allowed me to
see and do things that I never imagined that I could do.
Even Barbara has come to understand that it was not a wasted purchase and
has led to fitness and enjoyment over the last 12 years.
Itís been said that when I take up something I usually go into it big
timeÖcycling has been no exception.
At first, I was a mileage
junkie. My career in the military
prevented me from riding as much as I really wanted so I was never satisfied
with the local club distances and would usually ride to the ride start, ride
with the club, and then ride back home. My
lowest mileage in one year was 6570 miles and my best has been 11,292 miles.
After 3 years of riding I started racing but soon found out that it
required a lot of miles dedicated to intense training and it detracted from the
enjoyment of just riding. Donít
get me wrong, I enjoyed the competition, but it required certain days of
intervals, sprints, distance, and forced rest days to make a well-rounded
program that detracted from lots of long interesting rides.
Therefore, I never raced a lot but I focused on a couple important events
every year like the Military Regional, Military National, and district road
races. That allowed me to ride more
for enjoyment and not focus on training all the time.
Looking back, all those years of
riding has resulted in several memorable milestones aside from competitions. I'm
sure you will say I'm anal retentive since I have meticulously logged every mile
since 1989...you're probably right. I remember my first milestone was reaching
1000 miles. That didnít take long
but at the time it was a big deal. I
still remember exactly where I passed that milestone on Wares Ferry Rd. Another goal was to ride a century. In 1991, John Leofsky took me to Birmingham and helped me
ride my first centuryÖactually 125 miles.
Iíll never forget the feeling of accomplishment I had after that ride.
After a couple of those, I aimed at riding them under 5 hoursÖthen
under 4. Soon I had enough miles to
encircle the earthÖ24,901.7. I passed that goal in June of 1993 while riding BRAG, the
Bicycle Ride Across Georgia. I
couldnít believe that Iíd ridden that many milesÖgeeze, enough miles to
encircle the world! Upon retirement
my goal was to ride coast to coast across the US.
I did that in 1996 and since then Iíve done that 10 more times so that
oneís history. Another goal for
some reason was to ride 10,000 miles in one year.
I did that 3 years in a row from 1996-1998.
the most recent milestone is the one Iím most proud of so farÖI donít know
why, but for some reason it is a bit special.
On January 21, I passed 100,000 miles since I started logging miles on
that Kronos in August 1999 (Some of my ďfriendsĒ around here would make me
subtract the 9 miles Barbara pedaled me when my crankarm came off while riding
the tandem). The crankarm incident
aside, thatís still a lot of miles and I would venture to say that many people
havenít driven that many miles in their car since
1989. I figure at this rate, Iíll
be about 154 years old when I reach 1 million miles so Iíd better keep
pedaling. In those 100,000 miles,
Iíve had some unique experiences on both ends of the spectrum.
Just to mention a few, Iíve experienced excruciating pain while
training for and participating in competitions, Iíve experienced extreme
fatigue fighting the relentless head winds of the mid-west, Iíve endured
misery in the intense heat of summers in the south, and Iíve lost 3 dear
cycling friends to accident or disease. Ironically,
all were named Jim. All those
experiences, on the surface, seem to be negative but each made me a stronger
person and my relationship with my 3 friends enriched my life beyond measure.
On the other hand, thereís nothing to compare to the intense sensation
of screaming downhill at 55+ MPH (One instance of 64.5 down the Blue Ridge
Iíve absorbed our beautiful country in a way much different than those who
drive automobiles. Itís hard to
explain the awe of riding through majestic mountain ranges and having the time
to contemplate how they evolved over the years and what they will be like 1000s
of years after we are gone. Iíve
met some of the most interesting people, and have the satisfaction of knowing
that Iím doing something that keeps me young at heart and inspired to keep
moving in my later years. Can you
think of a better way to spend retirement?
What does it take to get you or
a loved one on a bike? Maybe, like
me, itís setting some goals. You
donít have to be as anal as I am and put your head down for 100,000 miles, but
maybe you just want to lose some weight, improve your cardiovascular system, or
just ride 10 miles without stopping. Whatever
your goals, they are important to you and are a necessary ingredient to your
motivation. Plus, donít you owe
it to yourself to do something that is healthy and enjoyable?
I encourage all of you to get involved with the club and ride for
whatever reason. There are many
roads youíve never seen even as close as Montgomery COÖunless you are Frank
Buckner who has ridden every road within 100 miles of about everywhere.
You may never ride 100,000 miles but as they say, itís not the
destination but the journey along the way thatís well worth the effort.
My next goal is to ride in every
state in the continental US. If all
goes to plan, I should pick up my last state, Oregon, in June 2002 when I lead a
cross-country ride from Astoria OR to Portsmouth NH.
Iím looking forward to that with great anticipation as another item
checked off and will sip a glass of champagne to acknowledge that event.
I wonder what will be next? How
'bout 4 medals at the 2003 Senior OlympicsÖhmmm, that could be painful, but
definitely worth consideration. Iíll
see you on the road sometime during the second 100,000Ökeep riding.