Wednesday, March 26, 2008


While watching television last night I watched a show about biking. Watching it made me think back to my biking days.

One Christmas, as young boys living in North Carolina my parents bought my older brother and me bicycles. Mine was a 24-inch model and my older brother’s was a 26-inch model. There is only 14 months between my brother and I, so we were always doing things together. After learned how to ride the bikes, my brother and I were off to the races. Around and around the church we would race, riding as hard and as fast as we could in the graveled church parking lot. There was a paved road running in front of our house and a gravel road on the other side of the church. Because of safety reasons our parents would not allow us to ride on the paved road. I would ride bicycles for the next 40 years.

I never got into bicycling as much as my younger brother. He trains on a regularly basis and often rides in RAGBRAI and other bicycle rides. This year my brother is planning a Renwing Spirits Bicycle Tour across America as a fund raiser to help combat mental illness. However, I have taken my children on more bicycle rides than I can count. The three boys and I have ridden many miles together. My daughter and I may not have ridden as many miles together as I have with the boy, however we spent more time talking to each other.

These bicycle rides started when they were in grade school and continued until they were in high school ending when they decided they no longer wanted to ride with their father. On Sunday afternoons our entire family would go to the forest preserve to ride our bicycles. Often my wife and the three boys, leaving our young daughter and myself behind, would ride off heading to the end of the bike trail. Daughter K, either on her tricycle or bicycle with training wheels, would be left to ourselves. There I would be barely able to stay balanced on my bicycle while K would slowly, oh so slowly, pedal along all the while talking telling me all about her week. Many people would walk past us, turn and smile at the two of us talking more than biking. K and I would go about a half-mile before turning around and heading back to the start of the trail. Many times her mother and three older brothers would pass us before we made it back to the start of the trail. However, it is amazing what a person can learn if you just listen.

Other Sundays I would go for a bicycle ride with one or more of the boys. If the forest preserve trails were empty we would practice drafting with front wheel of your bike inches from the rear wheel of the bike in front of you. Were we good at this? I doubt it. Were we the fanciest dressed, were our bicycles the fanciest, or the newest? Absolutely not, however, we always had a great time. We often rode to the end of the trail where we would fill our empty water bottles, rest, and talk before heading back home.

One Sunday afternoon I was riding with our second son when the forest preserve police stopped us. He said we were speeding by doing 19 miles per hour on a road with a 15-mile per hour speed limit. After telling us that, he said he really wanted to tell us he had been following us for a while and thought it was good that a father and a teenage son could have such a good time together.

One summer we met my younger brother and the two older boys, my brother and myself rode the Iowa roads about 20 miles of Iowa roads to my brother’s home. Because we live in a flat area and the part of Iowa where my brother lives is hilly, the boys and I struggled to keep up with their uncle. The boys still talk about that ride.

I loved riding a bicycle. When I was 12 I had operations on both hips and was not able to take up walking or jogging. So I would ride my bicycle. I often came home from work and would go for a quick bike ride either before dinner or after. One summer our oldest son worked at a tire repair garage. He didn’t have a car so would ride his bike to work and back. So I often would ride the 4 or 5 miles to the garage and wait to ride home with him.

Watching that television show the other night brought back these memories. The memory of the burning leg muscles, the dripping chin, the gasping for breath. The memories of being caught miles from home in a sudden unexpected early spring or late autumn cold rain shower. Or riding with the wind and like the wind only to get to a point in the ride when I would remember that I now had to fight the wind on the return ride home. One bike ride I took with our third son started out great. However, before we reached the end of the bike trail, the wind turned and came at us from the north. By the time we made it home we were so cold we both had trouble getting our fingers to unzip our jacket zippers.

Enough all ready. You are all probable saying enough. I need to stop rambling because this is supposed to be a Blog entry, not the beginnings of a book.


Blogger Me said...

:) This made me smile. It wasn't too long at all.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 2:23:00 PM PDT  
Blogger dot said...

Oh I enjoyed it too! What great times ya'll had. Those were truely the "good ole days"! I wish more families would still do things like that.

Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 5:38:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Britt-Arnhild said...

Such wonderful memories you have. Thanks alot for sharing them. Youy have a wonderful way with words, I felt I was out on the tracks with you all :-)

Sunday, April 6, 2008 at 5:12:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Jeanette said...

Hi Tippy, Enjoyed reading about your life of years past, those were the days kids played outside and had fun..
Answer to "DUST STORM"
There are a lot of farming communities right down the Murray.and we have been in severe drought for 4 years thus the high winds picking up the top soil for many Miles before it got to us... designated days,and also on water restictions..

Monday, April 7, 2008 at 6:54:00 AM PDT  
Blogger moitz said...

Heh. I remember that cop. No one believes me that it happened, but it did. I also remember falling over on your brother's brand new titanium bike because I wasn't used to clipless pedals. And C and I taking your brand new bike mudding. I seem to recall you weren't too happy with us about that. I remember riding to Grandma and Grandpa's in South Holland, and my days as a life guard when I was REALLY in shape, riding to the pool I taught at, to the pool I worked at, to the bank, back to the pool I worked at, and then home. Wish I could get back into that....

Anyhow, I remember all this every time I ride in Chicago. I'm getting a little nostalgic just sitting here on my couch!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 8:45:00 PM PDT  

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