Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

The appeal......

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Old 11-01-14, 08:53 AM
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Cousin Jack
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The appeal......

Some of us never get over bicycles. I love the things -- love looking at them, love touching them, love working on them, love riding them. At seventy two, I can't always remember the faces or names of the people from my childhood, or the houses I lived in, but I can remember with startling clarity each and every bicycle I ever owned. I think it's because for some of us, the bicycle was the first "freedom horse," the first tool which expanded our horizons, the first means by which we could escape human limitations.... even the first liberating mechanism which we could utilize to nullify parental control. I remember as a very young child organizing an expedition to "my Aunt Mary's house," with a gang of similarly aged urchins, all of us mounted on a clap-trap assortment of bicycles. We were going to "my Aunt Mary's house" because she had good things to eat....and the distance was probably over fifteen miles on county roads. We were soon up and moving along well, but unfortunately the expedition got intercepted by my father in his Chrysler Airflow coming home for lunch. He was not happy, and turned us all around and sent us home. But the seed had been planted; and I've been leaving home ever since.....teach your child to ride a bike, and he or she is already half gone..... Learn to ride a bike, and the world is yours.

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Old 11-01-14, 08:57 AM
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Well written.
Bicycling keeps me immature......in a good way.
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Old 11-01-14, 09:18 AM
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Excellent post Uncle Jack, thanks for brightening my morning, here. I can completely relate to your sentiments.

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Old 11-01-14, 09:41 AM
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when i was a kid, i loved riding my bike. it seemed that i would trash one ever summer. at around 11 or 12, mom and dad had enough and stopped buying me new bikes. hello, garbage picking! i would hunt down a good Shwinn or Huffy frame, rip it down to bare bones and repaint, re-grease/replace the crank and fork bearings and straighten out the rims. it was basically a brand new bike. so, in actuality, my parents taught me a good lesson. when faced with adversity, there is always a solution to over come it. rely on your own abilities and trust your strengths.
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Old 11-01-14, 10:49 AM
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Very well written, and mirrors many of my sentiments and experiences.

When I was about 11-13 years old (a long long time ago) a friend and I just started riding our pieced together balloon tire bikes one day with no particular destination in mind. We did not think think things through, and found ourselves a long way from home as late afternoon approached; about the time we were thinking about turning around. We were bright enough to know we would not make it home before dark. My parents did not have a car so we had to call my buddy's folks and "fess up". We figured the punishment for calling and asking for a ride would be a lot less than what we would receive for getting home late, on our bikes, and in the dark. We had made it 35 miles However, I have to qualify the distance. That was about 60 years ago, and the size of fish and distances seem to grow over the years;and I am a fisherman! While feigning mild displeasure with at us for our antics, I really think my parents were secretly proud of us.

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Old 11-01-14, 12:23 PM
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I remember all my bikes, but then I have only had nine, 4 of which I still own, and 3 of which have been purchased within the last 8 years. Of those, four were new; the 3 speed Royce Union I got for my 11th birthday, the 10 speed Bianchi I got for a college graduation present, the 10 speed VeloSolex I bought myself 3 years later (and sold the Bianchi to my roommate), and the Lemond Zurich I bought in 2006.
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Old 11-01-14, 12:46 PM
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Well written! and so very true!
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Old 11-01-14, 12:50 PM
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It's good to know that there are other people who feel this way too.
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Old 11-01-14, 12:55 PM
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A breath of FRESH AIR...! Thanks for sharing..
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Old 11-01-14, 01:39 PM
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Only my wife thinks I'm not weird for this.
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Old 11-01-14, 02:26 PM
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Cousin Jack,

Not quite so long ago as my first long ride I rode my first race in your neck of the woods. It was from Ellensburg to the Columbia and back on the old Vantage highway. I finished dead last

I was riding a low end road bike that I bought from a co-worker after his wife crashed into the garage, bending the fork. She had never ridden a bike with hand brakes, and did not want anything to do with them after the crash. I had fixed it up pretty nice, with some component upgrades. Later, I acquired a Peugeot PX10, a really nice bike bike, but that still did help very much.

As a matter of fact, there was hardly anyone at the finish line when I finally made it. Not even my wife, she had gone into town with the kids to get lunch!

Last edited by Doug64; 11-01-14 at 02:51 PM. Reason: trying to get my facts straight
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Old 11-01-14, 04:23 PM
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The bicycle is an endless healthy, beautiful, simple, rewarding, elegant, intelligent escape and then some!

Unfortunately not always safe!

Love those endorphins!
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Old 11-01-14, 05:49 PM
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Cousin Jack
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Cousin Jack,

Not quite so long ago as my first long ride I rode my first race in your neck of the woods. It was from Ellensburg to the Columbia and back on the old Vantage highway. I finished dead last

I was riding a low end road bike that I bought from a co-worker after his wife crashed into the garage, bending the fork. She had never ridden a bike with hand brakes, and did not want anything to do with them after the crash. I had fixed it up pretty nice, with some component upgrades. Later, I acquired a Peugeot PX10, a really nice bike bike, but that still did help very much.

As a matter of fact, there was hardly anyone at the finish line when I finally made it. Not even my wife, she had gone into town with the kids to get lunch!
Was that part of the Whiskey Dick Triathlon? That's quite a climb up from the river, huh? I've done your ride innumerable times! Strangely enough, when I stopped for gas here in 1974 (and then never got out of town!), my single possession of any value was.....yup..... a Peugeot PX10! Years later, I traded it for a full-campy Raleigh Pro, also which I no longer have. But I'd give up a year of life (on the tail end!) to have both bikes back! Ride safe!
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Old 11-01-14, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Cousin Jack View Post
Was that part of the Whiskey Dick Triathlon? That's quite a climb up from the river, huh? I've done your ride innumerable times! Strangely enough, when I stopped for gas here in 1974 (and then never got out of town!), my single possession of any value was.....yup..... a Peugeot PX10! Years later, I traded it for a full-campy Raleigh Pro, also which I no longer have. But I'd give up a year of life (on the tail end!) to have both bikes back! Ride safe!
No, I swim about as bad a I sing. You don't want to hear an example It was just a relatively small regional road race with a field of maybe 25-30 riders in the novice category-right around 1975-76. I'd never heard the term triathlon until many years later.
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Old 11-01-14, 09:30 PM
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I think my first bike was a red kid's bike with training wheels, which were soon taken off. But when I received a hand-me-down green Schwinn Sting-Ray with banana seat, rear slick and front fork mounted bottle generator and light, I was Peter Fonda in Easy Rider (minus the drugs). My buddies and I would spend the summer days riding further and further out of our neighborhood. And the search for speed eventually led us to a man-made toboggan slide/ hill where sans speedometers we were convinced we hit 30 miles an hour through the old-fashioned goalpost of the football field at the bottom of the run. (We probably did.) Today, as a bike commuter I'm all kitted up with helmet, lights, mirrors and horn. Both my bikes have hand brakes, gears and road-bike riding positions. And despite all this and 40+ more years of wear and tear on my body, there are moments when I'm shooting under an over pass, or riding down a dark street with nothing but my headlight to illuminate the way, exploring new neighborhoods or just breathing harder than I thought possible, that despite the incomprehensible and often chaotic changes in my life, I know with all-consuming certainty and clarity that I am the same boy experiencing the same thrills that only bicycles bring.
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Old 11-02-14, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Cousin Jack View Post
Some of us never get over bicycles… At seventy two, I can't always remember the faces or names of the people from my childhood, or the houses I lived in, but I can remember with startling clarity each and every bicycle I ever owned. I think it's because for some of us, the bicycle was the first "freedom horse," the first tool which expanded our horizons, the first means by which we could escape human limitations…the seed had been planted; and I've been leaving home ever since

.....teach your child to ride a bike, and he or she is already half gone..... Learn to ride a bike, and the world is yours.

Originally Posted by Route 66 View Post
It's good to know that there are other people who feel this way too.

Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
Well written.
Bicycling keeps me immature......in a good way.
In my Introduction to Bike Forums, I wrote:

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…Back in the 60’s in the Motor City, I had an “English Racer,’ and longed to tour at about age 14, but then joined the car culture. In Ann Arbor MI in the 70’s I really realized the utility of bicycles for commuting, and began touring on a five-speed Schwinn Suburban, but soon bought a Mercier as did my girlfriend, later my wife. We toured in Michigan and Ontario.

In 1977 we moved to Boston on our bikes, as a bicycling honeymoon from Los Angeles to Washington, DC and then took the train up to Boston. … After the birth of our son in 1988, I have pretty much been a year–round commuter only, but in the past few years I have done a century or two a year…
From about age 12 to 14, I distinctly recall going on rides all over the East Side of Metro Detroit, sometimes to a favorite coin shop several miles away (as an avid collector), but often alone or with friends to meander, explore neighborhoods. and just “get lost,” hard to do in a city with a grid pattern of roads.

My cycling lifestyle in many ways makes me feel somewhat “alienated” (“immature”) in a good way from the usual American car-focused lifestyle, and I’m grateful for that. My cycling reputation, mundane as my cycling might be to the hard-core cyclists, is always a source of amusement and conversation with my friends and acquaintances; e.g. in bad weather, “You didn’t ride your bike today, did you?,” or at fancy social events, “Did you ride your bike here?.” Always asked with amusement and respect.

I in turn often ask people where they live, because invariably I have ridden in their neighborhood, and that question usually sparks an engaging converstion.

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Old 11-02-14, 06:40 AM
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I'm a few weeks short of 69 y/o and I remember my first few rides on a real bike (Schwinn, of course) as though it were yesterday: my dad giving me a push, my falling on our front line and, finally, taking off on my own. My sons had it easier since they started on small coaster bikes and mastered balance at a very young age. I remember the demise of my beloved Raleigh "English Racer" (infernal Sturmey Archer 3 spd) when at got hit by a car as a junior in high school. That was in 1962 and my next bike was a Miyata 912 bought in 1984. My wife and I returned to cycling several years ago and I enjoy cycling just as much now as I did as a kid.
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Old 11-02-14, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Cousin Jack View Post
.... I think it's because for some of us, the bicycle was the first "freedom horse," the first tool which expanded our horizons, the first means by which we could escape human limitations.... even the first liberating mechanism.......
Very well written.

Bicycles are for almost everyone not just the first... but the only way to amplify our human powers (with maybe the exception of a handful of those that have attained human powered flight).

Bicycles have always been... and always will be special machines that can become an extension of our bodies. Bicycles expand our speed, strength, range, and endurance. I find the experience of cycling as alluring today (as an old man) as I did as a small child.
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