Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Long Ride Home ~ a cycling tale

My dad is 86 now. He served as a Ski Trooper with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy in WWII. Since then he has gone snow skiing almost every winter. He went snow skiing twice this past winter. He is my hero in many ways.

Skiing is not the only outdoor recreational activity he enjoys. He is also an avid cyclist.

When my dad first visited me at my North Arkansas home he was only 68 years old. He brought his bicycle because he said he had a ride scheduled where there were some hills and he wanted to get some practice on my hills first.

The first thing he did after arriving and settling in a bit was to take his bicycle out the back of his truck and ride into Mountain Home ten miles away where he got a cup of coffee before heading back to my place.

Once arriving back at my place, he started trying to get me to go on a bike ride with him. I had not done any serious exercise in years and just wasn't interested. I tried hard to beg off. He kept after me though till I finally gave in.

I crawled under my house trailer, which almost touched the ground on one end and was thirteen cinder blocks high on the other end, to retrieve an old walmart mountain bike that was heavy like an anvil. After returning with my bicycle I looked at my 68 year old dad and said, "Let's ride down to the Dam. That sounds like a nice ride to me".

I have a three mile downhill coast to the bottom of the Norfork Dam from my house.

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My dad looked at me and smiled as he said, "Okay".

I enjoyed the three mile downhill coast to the bottom of the dam. Once I got to the grass at the bottom of the hill I got off of my bike and began walking it up the hill to the NW end of the dam. My dad stayed on the road and pedaled all the way up and around the steep curvy route to the top of the dam without stopping until he got to our rendezvous spot on the end.

We then rode across the dam for a ways before turning around to head home. Once heading in the homeward direction I began thinking about the long ride home which would now be a three mile constant climb once we got to the bottom of the dam again. I thought, "Even if I survive that ride, and there is a chance I won't, I'm going to be wasted for at least the next two weeks."

We cruised down the big hill to the bottom of the dam where the Norfork National Fish Hatchery is located. I enjoyed that.

When we got by the fish hatchery, I looked over at my 68 year old dad and said, "Dad, if it is alright with you, I think I will just hang out down here at the fish hatchery. When you get back to the house, do you mind getting your truck and coming to get me?"

He smiled and said, "Okay". So, my 68 year old dad made the long ride home by himself while I waited for him to return with his truck.

My wife laughed when he explained where I was, and that he was going to get me with the truck.

Shortly after his visit I bought a good quality mountain bike. The cost of those things can almost choke a horse, but my wife and I reasoned that if I rode it, it would be worth every penny. She also said health club memberships were expensive too.

Along with my new bike I bought a heart rate monitor, and I got on the internet and determined my target heart zone so I would not over do my exercise. Whenever you overdo any exercise routine, it lessens your desire to continue exercising. I began making that same ride on a regular basis. For the first six months I slowly crept back up the three mile climb. Then at the end of six months of regular rides, I started to feel a little extra kick in my pedal. I found on a good bike I could also rest and never enter my target heart zone if I didn't want to on the climb home. A good bike also seems to invite you to want to go ride. I think it was a good investment, and I think my wife agrees.

When my dad turned 80 three generations of us: my son, myself, and my dad, did a 150 mile muscular sclerosis tour ride from my home town of Hammond to Percy Quinn State Park where we camped and then returned to Hammond the next day.

My dad has set a high bar. I still have thirteen years to go till I get to his age when we first made the ride down to the dam. Whether I make it or not, his inspiration to exercise more has certainly added more quality and enjoyment to my life. Thank you Dad!

That's my Tall Tale for today...ciao!

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