With father’s day here, I wanted to write a quick thank you to my Dad and all those dad’s out there sharing their love of biking and the outdoors with their children.
My Dad was not the usual kinda guy other kids had for a dad. He was a little quirky in his own way. He was from a family of farmers where you got dirty, worked the land and held a full time job. His was first generation born in the US and the first in his family to go to college. He worked nights at the steel mill and attended class during the day. Sleep was a five letter word you didn’t talk about or need.
I knew him growing up as a tough, do-it-yourself type of guy. We lived all over the east coast. Home repairs were a weekend family outing. He wore the short running shorts running, McEnroe inspired headbands playing tennis, jump roped on his break at work when working long shifts at the plant and he had a bike.
Before biking was ‘cool’ my Dad was biking. As early as I can remember he was getting on his lycra pants with this weird padding stuff underneath, strapping on his backpack and heading to work. This was before cell phones made it ‘OK’ to get stuck with a flat and no spare or a mechanical malfunction and no tools.
He left the house early. He had one light- a Cateye. I don’t know the lumens and I know it did not flash. Basic gear in tow. There were no restrictions per weather or such- he just biked.
He got home and had stories to tell. He got a warning for going too fast downhill at 6am from a cop. He biked through police standoffs and gun shots. He had to ride the bus home a few times as just one spare was not enough. He got things thrown at him and of course, had his moments with drivers.
He had a Raleigh bike initially. Red and basic. One day we rode to a new bike store on a Sunday afternoon and he got his ‘new’ bike. The first in over 20 years. And he got me one too. I had bikes before but not like this – a Bianchi in the traditional Bianchi blue. I was 10yrs old. At the time I had no idea the brand or what a ‘cross’ bike was but I knew it was expensive. My mom told him if you get that, you better ride it EVERYWHERE. And we did.
We rode to tennis, swimming, gyms, parks, stores and he rode still to work. I had no idea this was commuting on the bike but I did know it was time with my Dad and he was fast. 1, 3, 7, 10+ miles there and back. We stopped for bagels. We stopped to save turtles in the road and king snakes still waking up and warming up. He beat me easily up hills. I started riding after school to try to keep up with him on the weekends. I never was as fast until now but I still think, on any given day, if he really wanted to my Dad could beat me.
Thanks Dad for your inspiration. Because of you I never thought commuting by bike, lycra and knowing how to change a flat wasn’t something everyone did and I will pass that to my kids. Because of you, the love of biking will be passed on and I will always remember our rides. Happy father’s day Dad- AND to all Dad’s out there sharing their love and time with their kids! As H.G. Wells so perfectly stated ‘Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.’