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Sunday, February 26, 2012

My First Bicycle Ode to Dad

My Dad has been riding his bicycle for well over 50 years. He learned to ride initially on the farm as a kid. What his riding habits were like in college at Kansas State and then through graduate school at Iowa State is a mystery for me to solve. But when he moved us to take a professor's role on the West Coast at Oregon State University in the fall or 1955, well, he rode his bicycle to work every day--for decades.

When Dad retired--well, sort of--around 15 years ago, he transitioned into recreational riding. He loved it, and he'd often choose to hop onto his bicycle to run his errands around town or to make the quick trips to the grocery store. So, when I got into riding in 2002 (after being a jogger for literally all of my adult life) Dad and I chronicled our mileage to one another as part of our weekly "check-in" phone calls--of course I'm in Colorado and he's still there in Corvallis, OR. Up until just a year ago, at the age of 86, he was still riding a road bike and I was b-a-r-e-l-y keeping up with his weekly mileage totals!

Dad bought a three-wheeled recumbent bike in the Spring of 2011. He wondered if he'd really like it given how it was a lot heavier, lower to the ground, and just "different." He was soon extolling the blessings he realized being clipped onto the pedals. He no longer had to fight the balance war all street bikers face in congested traffic or at controlled stops. He explained how the weight of his new bike did shave some distance from his weekly mileage, but he observed how pushing the weight of its frame still kept him in the same fine physical shape. You guessed it: Dad was physically hard core--and in other ways too! (I'll tell you more about that in the next blog.)

The first week of February I booked an urgent flight to Oregon to be there with Dad.
On the 9th of January he was on his bike--riding to the Post Office. It was about 3:15 PM on a bright and sunny Willamette Valley afternoon. He'd traveled less than a mile...when he was hit by a car!

The rest of this story must be told, but in some ways it's still being written. In my next blog update I'll rehearse what has happened, and what I--and we--know to this point. But for your information, this story has a very sad ending. I thank God that this life is not "the end." 1 Corinthians 15:19!!!

Dick