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July 24, 2006

Question of the Day

Courtesy of The Daily Meme:

In honor of the Tour de France, what is your longest bike ride?

I should probably start by admitting that I did not successfully learn to ride a bike until I was thirteen years old. Before that, my parents had tried to teach me, and would push me along to get me started, then let me go, but I never learned how to start or stop on my own. Once I ended up in a beach volleyball pit and another time in the emergency room. But by the time I was thirteen, I had developed enough coordination to just get on and go, and I was super-proud to finally be able to do what most children can do with ease. Bike riding is not something I have ever done on a regular basis, and the thought of doing it as a regular form of transportation (which David does) terrifies me. But every now and then I do enjoy a long ride.

My longest bike ride, which I have done twice, is the bike path from Santa Monica to Redondo Beach and back, about forty miles. This was the annual bike-a-thon to raise money for my high school marching band (I played the tuba). We were supposed to ask people to pledge money for each mile we rode. I was too shy to ask for money, but rode anyway, and had a lot of fun with it, but I don't think I have ever been that sore any other time in my life. I was also super-slow. The band director always said that he would go last, to pick up any dead bodies, but one year he passed me!

Posted by eklanche at July 24, 2006 11:36 AM


Grandpa says:

It's great conversing with you this way, so I know where to begin my grandfatherly
commentary on my own boyhood on learning how to ride a small two-wheeler on West 11th Street, in
Greenwich Village (taught wonderfully by Hyman Hilfman, your great-grandfather, to "doing"
the Santa Monica-Redondo Beach Tour de Beach on a visit to see you and mom. I hope your sore spots are only special memories by now.

Posted by: eklanche at July 25, 2006 10:38 AM

Since bicycling is my primary form of transportation here in my late 20's, I had to jump at the opportunity to respond to this post. Never in my entire life did I think that I would be riding to work on my bicycle when I was older -- I had always envisioned myself in something with four wheels, a convertible top, and donning a pair of sunglasses. Well, at least I've got the sunglasses!

My father taught me to ride a bike when I was five years old. He was adamant about teaching me to be a physically coordinated child -- probably for that reason that all fathers who were athletic in their own youth would like to relive their childhoods. While I am unsure physical coordination is something you can fully teach, he did a good job preparing me for the athletic world by pushing me to work hard when I was young.

I remember the day I first rode on my own. My father took me out to the cul-de-sac like any other day, but he told me that on this sunny day, he was going to take the training wheels off. I was terrified. I told him he better not, that I would fall. He said "that's nonsense," and proceeded to remove both supporting appendages, and then held the back of my seat firmly with his hands. He told me: "don't worry, I will be right behind you, holding you."

Yeah, right.

I started pedaling, very hesitantly, and picked up some speed. I turned around to make sure he was still there, running behind me and holding my seat. He was still there, and all was good. I pedaled faster, and decided to head over to the neighbor's house about 4 houses down. As I passed the first house, I noticed the bike felt lighter, faster. I turned around again. My father was about 10 yards behind me, smiling. I instantly fell and landed on my wrist, scraping it up pretty badly. I cried, but I stood up on my own, and picked up the bike.

My dad said: "You did it, I wasn't holding you. Now, you can ride." He had lied to me! But he was right. I knew that I would have never fallen if I didn't turn to look for him. I was holding myself back, I thought. I got back on the bike, and he encouraged me to try again. By the end of the evening, I was jumping curbs, smiling, and I had totally forgot about my wrist wound.

The longest ride I ever attempted in one day was 55 miles, one way from Victoria, TX to Port O'Connor, TX. My best bud Michael and I departed on Christmas morning, 2009, at about 9 am. I got about 40 miles out, and encountered a flat tube from the rough, dangerous roads. Luckily, I had the foresight to bring along a spare tube, and Michael had brought his portable pump. We rode in to POC around 2 pm, peeled ourselves from the bike, stretched, ate and headed over to Madden's Lounge for a cold brew. It was a wonderful holiday -- two men, alone in a small city, drinking beer and feeling like we had accomplished something impossible. Later, in the summer of 2010, we completed a 90 mile camping trip bike ride (3 days) through the Texas hill country from Austin, TX to Bastrop, TX. We broke up the ride into several legs, as not to wear ourselves out.

I love, love, love the freedom of my bicycle. I can not think of a better way to feel free than to ride fast on the open road, using only my body to propel me somewhere new.

Posted by: paulwall at April 30, 2013 12:10 PM

New comments on old posts -- thank you for this story, Paul!

Posted by: eklanche at April 30, 2013 01:42 PM

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