Reflections on Reaching 100,000 Lifetime Miles
When I look back on memories of a lifetime of bicycle riding, it’s not the bikes or the particular rides I remember as much as those with whom I shared the experiences. On this 100,000-mile milestone, I want to acknowledge a few of those who joined me on this amazing journey.
Miles Before Recordkeeping:
My cousin Bill Miller and I grew up 60 miles apart but spent time together on bikes whenever we could. We explored my small hometown of Arkansas City, Kansas thoroughly—there wasn’t any place where it wasn’t safe to wander in those days. Our frequent destination while in Bill’s hometown of Wichita was the trails of Oak Park; trail-walkers beware.
My childhood and forever friend Tommy Gillock and I explored the streets and alleys of Ark City and beyond the city limits with rides through the city dump, along the Arkansas River and many rural backroads as well as a few railroad bridges (not recommended!). Tommy and I shared the experience of our first 50-mile ride in Kansas headwinds as we earned our cycling merit badges in Scouts.
I had precious memories of riding with my dad on Sunday afternoons. He was hard at work in his barber shop during the week but on occasional Sunday afternoons, I’d hop on my Schwinn and Dad would get on my sister’s bike and we’d head out exploring. Can’t beat father-son time on a bike ride.
After the coaster-brake Schwinns, the 10-speed Schwinn Varsities of the 1970’s looked pretty exotic. In 1974 when Cousin Bill was living in Columbia Missouri and I was in Lansing Michigan, we decided we needed to take a bike-packing trip from Kansas through the Missouri Ozarks and back to Columbia. We didn’t have a clue but had an amazing adventure.
Move to PA:
In 1976 a job transfer to Pennsylvania opened whole new vistas for cycling. I learned nearly every farm road from village to village had been paved opening endless opportunities for scenic flat or hilly rides—best cycling in the US. In the middle of a workday, my friend George Howorth would frequently call and say, “Do you want to play hooky?” and off we would go. I really miss George. There were also many rides with Paul Overgard who was a bit older but really pushed me climbing every hill we could find. Paul moved back to his home country of Canada and was greatly missed.
What an amazing surprise to learn we had a local velodrome when we moved to PA. Of course, I had to try it out so I signed up for the Air Products Developmental Cycling program in 1978 and begin to ride with them every year. It was billed for ages 10 and up (that’s me!) so I rode with my son Kevin and then daughter Colleen starting when they reached 10. I remember one session after class when Kevin was in high school, he and I rode a match sprint complete with all the jockeying. Our skills were very close, but he beat me that day. And then Colleen’s last year between her junior and senior years in college was a blast. There was one “old” guy (I wonder now how old he was?) who was the only one in the class we could beat!
Schwinn Twin Sport
In the early ‘80s we purchased a 10-speed Schwinn Twinn Sport Tandem. When Kevin and I rode it we would have to true the wheels after nearly every ride. A few laps at the velodrome and the wheels were a mess. We did go out to set a speed record one day which was on the plus side of 50 mph as I recall. We were on old US-22 which wasn’t very heavily trafficked in those days. I also remember a ride with Colleen when I bribed her to go to Kutztown to the sneaker outlet. Both the ride and the sneaker purchase were a success.
Tours and Events
- The (original) LWA Gap Gallop Century. Did three of those including one with Paul Overgard and another with church friend Joe Pavone.
- Seagull Centuries. Rode in 7 Seagulls; always with a nice LWA contingent and one time with Kevin.
- Beast of the East Double Metric. Kevin and his friend Kevin Schafer were always looking for high-mileage events and talked me into this ride in South Jersey. It poured buckets; we got lost once to add to our miles; the steel grate bridges were a challenge. But we did it and felt a great sense of accomplishment.
- White Clay Bicycle Club Double Century. My one and only double century in Delmarva with Kevin and Kevin S. It was flat, but 200 miles is a long way! We did finish strong even though we weren’t really feeling great at the 150-mile mark.
- Bicycle Tours of Colorado. Did a total of 6 of these with Cousin Bill, two with Kevin and a few with Bill’s daughter Karen and son-in-law Keith. A highlight was 2014 when we added the next generation with Grandsons Joshua and Ben (these guys could climb!). So many memories:
- Making it over Independence Pass on our first tour.
- Climbing out of the clouds to spectacular vistas on Trail Ridge Road.
- Riding above the tree line in a lightning storm in western Colorado (no place to hide).
- Mud slides closing the road.
- The wonderful mountain valley town of Waldon.
- Zooming 70 miles down Poudre Canyon with Kevin to Fort Collins.
- WACANID. Washington, Canada (BC) and Idaho with Cousin Bill and a bunch of LWA folks in 2018. I believe that was the time Bill and I decided we were pretty much done with mountain centuries.
- Bike Virginia. The first was in 2008 with Kevin and Joshua (age 8) stoking a tandem. The second in 2015 was just Grandpa and Joshua when he was in high school along with Sheffys and Richard Baldock. Joshua took it easy on me that year.
- Eastern Shore Rides. Lots of these organized by Paul Smith including two rides down from the Lehigh Valley to Easton MD. The fellowship with LWA friends is wonderful and that post-lunch ride back to Blackwater is a hammer-fest.
Day to Day Wheelmen and Fitness Central Rides
So many retirement-years rides with so many wonderful friends: Greg & Mike, my fellow full figured friends who hate hills as much as I do; Neil, G and Tom D who inspire me every day to keep going; the Wolfpack crew; David Wieder and the Thursday Market Café riders; Sheffields, Paul Smith, Cramptons, Rob Smith, Jack, Karl Kramer, Kathie Z, Dina, Donalee, Carl Z and so many more.
My heartfelt thanks to all of you for providing the joy in my journey!