By Chris Ramirez
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Richard Goldman used an unusual set of wheels to get to his 50th high school reunion this weekend.
The retired educator pedaled over hills, atop rocky roads and in sometimes searing heat on a tiny, folding bike from his home in Florida. He arrived Wednesday in Squirrel Hill in time for Saturday's reunion of Taylor Allderdice High School's Class of 1960.
"It's a great way to see the country," said Goldman, 67. "You get to see the best and worst of America at 13 miles an hour."
The scenes along the way were eye-grabbing: from the haze that covered lush, tree-lined roads of Georgia to the majestic cliff walls of coal country, to the sprawling greenery of the C&O Trail near Cumberland, Md.
Goldman began his trip roughly three weeks ago, pedaling out of Fort Lauderdale on April 28. Riding with him was Mike Roon, a bike mechanic from Granville, Mich., whom he met in 2008 in a riding tour group. They arrived at the front steps of Goldman's alma mater around 1 p.m. yesterday.
Only Goldman's wife of 46 years, Renee, was there to meet them. She flew to Pittsburgh for the reunion at the Green Oaks Country Club in Penn Hills.
"I wasn't worried about him riding. He can take care of himself," said Renee, who kept in contact with her husband by cell phone. "It's the cars and the semis ... that you have to think about."
Renee and Richard Goldman, married 46 years, met as 15-year-old sophomores at Allderdice and graduated together. An avid jogger, Goldman turned to biking 15 years ago when ankle pain, shin splints and other running-related injuries became too much.
Mapquest estimates the trip is 1,158 miles and 18 hours in a car. But the Web-based route plotter doesn't account for detours cyclists might take to avoid traffic problems.
His trip covered closer to 1,600 miles.
"The challenge wasn't the length of the ride itself; it was not knowing what was around the next turn," said Roon, 57. "It was an adventure over every hill and around every corner."
Outside Cape Canaveral, Fla., police diverted them when they rode several miles onto roadways closed to civilian traffic. The pair trekked cautiously on a shoulderless highway outside Charleston, S.C., riding inches away from cars, SUVs and semi trucks.
Roon and Goldman rode only during daylight, covering 80 to 90 miles at a clip. To put that in perspective, Lance Armstrong and other professional riders pedal traditional 10-speed bikes 105 miles a day during the 2,200-mile Tour de France.
Goldman said he used the smaller bike -- which has 20-inch wheels instead of the 26-inch wheels that are standard on 10-speeds -- because he likes it.
He co-founded Sagemont School, a private college-prep school in Weston, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale. His son Brent Goldman runs the school.
Goldman said he used the trip to raise money for Sagemont's athletics department and raised about $5,000 so far.