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Category:  Articles » Recreation & Sports » Cycling

 

Getting Grandma & Grandpa to Use Email VIII

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2007-02-25 07:51:05     
Article by John Leatherby

Believe it or not, most grandmas and grandpas rode a bike, when they were young. Some of us old fogies continue to ride in our elderly aging process.

When I was in my youth, the river was 5 miles from town, on a gravel and sometimes muddy road. Oh! I remember a day when we started riding and about half way it started to rain hard. At about the half was point, you go down a long hill, cross a creek bridge and the hill on the other side is clay. Not just plain ol clay. It's red clay, and it sticks to it's self. As we pushed the bikes up the hill the clay built up on the wheels and on our shoes, till the bike was nearly impossible to push and our feet weighed a ton with the build up of red clay. I don't know how we made it. But, we did. It wasn't easy getting the clay off of our feet and the bike wheels so we could ride again.

Rain or shine in the summer time, in Iowa, it's hot and humid. You have to be careful at times, squalls of very cold rain will come down and it gives you the chills and can make you really sick.

Once we get to the river, there is an old dam that's been there for many, many years. At one time they used to get electricity from the dam. There are always old guys fishing from boats in front of the dam. I have memories of swimming around the boats one day when the gates of the dam opened and I was getting washed away. The guys in the boats just laughed. Fortunately, I was a strong enough swimmer to swim to shore, before I got to the rapids.

The dam was great fun. We could dive off the back side, or we could lay down where the water was coming over and watch it from below. What a thrill for a kid. One day, some of the older boys were fishing with a string and hook tied around their wrists, reaching under rocks attempting to snag a fish. They were lucky. One of the old guys caught a 25 lb cat fish right where the kids had been trying to snag one. If one of the kids had hooked that guy, it would have taken him right to the bottom.

Meanwhile, back to the bike riding. The ride home was a tough one. Usually, we had sunburns that really hurt to the touch. It made it kind of hard to sleep at night. Back then, I don't remember every having anything to put on a sunburn. We just toughed it out, and peeled it off, in a couple days. Then go do it again.

Now, living in Southern California, we have great bike trails along the river beds and along the ocean shore. Even in the city atmosphere, along the river trails there is an abundance of wild life, from skunks to eagles. There are all kinds of birds. In recent years, the eagles have been making a come back, and it's not unusual to see them gliding through the air. You don't see them on the ground often. But, when you do, they are huge. We see a lot of hawks. Redtails mostly. Many cranes and blue herons. And seaguls galore. The funny ones to watch at the pelicans. The pelicans are beautiful in the air. When they hit the water it's a great big plop.

My favorite place to ride is along the Santa Ana River down to the ocean and north along the ocean surf. I can make the trip about any distance I want. On a normal day, I'll ride 40 miles. When I feel energetic, I stretch the trip to 63 miles. That is round trip. For probably 20 years, I walked the neighborhood at night, and on Friday rode the bike trail.

My grandson started riding with me, when he was 7 or 8. I stopped at every rest area along the trail to give him a break. Now, he stops at every rest area to give me a break. Most of the time, when he was young, he would ride down and we would have grandma pick him up and bring him back in the car. So far, I continue to be able to ride both ways.

There is a trick to riding the river trail. You want to start early in the morning, before the ocean breeze starts coming up the trail, and come back riding with the breeze. If you've ever ridden along the ocean, you'll know the breeze is not what you want to ride against'. One mile against the breeze is like riding up hill for 5 miles. If you're in shape you might make it.

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