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Travel

Adventures on Wheels – A Sentimental Journey

by D.J. Wilson –

“Seek the wisdom of the ages, but look at the world through the eyes of a child.”

  Ron Wild

One of the greatest gifts about being a child is finding joy in simple, everyday activities.  As a kid, friends and I would pedal to the local ice cream parlor to indulge in colossal soft-serve ice cream cones.  Our bikes were delightfully customized with bright colors.  Mine had a banana seat, upright tassel-ended handle bars, a sturdy plastic basket and shiny silver bell.  After a growth-spurt, my father took me to a bicycle shop, where I graduated to a 10-speed.  I learned to shift gears and aptly use the hand-brakes.  When teen years hit, my pals and I rode further to the waterfront to watch the ferries dock.  In those “helmetless” days, we relished the cool summer breeze off the bay as we cycled the roads near the stone jetty.  It was a bonus to have fast bikes to make it home before the figurative dinner bell rang.

The proud day finally arrived when I got my driver’s license.  Reflecting back, it was a rather sad end to time spent with my bicycle.  When I left for college, the bike was stored in the garage, rusting behind the shadows of the lawn mower and hidden beneath garden tools.  By the time I got married and left home, it was further neglected, gathering dust and losing air from its tires.  My bike riding years blurred into faded memories, until the day when my cycling skills would be retested and my recollections came flooding back.

Reading from a list of fun things to do on vacation, I apprehensively agreed to a family day of biking in Maine.  We piled in the car and headed to the local bike shop in beautiful downtown Bar Harbor.  My kids excitedly cheered as our fleet of bikes appeared. I hid my nervousness behind a big smile, wondering all the while if I would remember how to balance on wheels.  As I mounted the bicycle, I jokingly reminded myself that this was not the Tour de France.  I stuck my feet on the pedals and as I spun the wheels I began to move.  I regained confidence on the tranquil gravel and dirt carriage paths which looped through the forest.  The winding trails of Acadia created the perfect setting to cycle in nature, evident as we spotted an owl perched in an evergreen.  We journeyed past a scenic lake and cascading waterfall.  We rode up and down hills rich in wildflowers and rocks covered in emerald green moss.  When we tired, we found respite beneath the cool shaded trees of the forest.  In a sense, I returned to being a child for the day, absorbing the sights and sounds around me and enjoying the exuberance of the ride.

Bike riding is an enjoyable activity for active adults.  Seniors, such as Former President George W. Bush, enjoy cycling for sport.  Since leaving the White House, he began   hosting an annual Warrior 100K, a three-day mountain bike ride to which he invites military veterans, many of whom were wounded in service.  Bush enjoys riding at the front of the pack to proudly honor these brave American Heroes.  While Bush is an avid rider, many of us share his cycling enthusiasm on a less intense physical level.  Tour companies now offer seniors a choice of bicycling trips for pleasure, presenting an innovative way to travel and experience the great outdoors.

Vacationers may select from a list of dream destinations, domestic or international.  From winding country roads of our own State of Georgia to lavender lined paths in rural France, the choices are endless.  Custom designed bike trips geared toward the specific needs of folks age 60 and up provide a safer way for seniors to ride. The tour company supplies top of the line riding vehicles and takes numerous steps to ensure that the bikes are tailored to fit the riders.   Electric assist bikes are wonderful for people who wish to go farther with greater ease, helping to lessen the effort.

Folks are given the option to bike as little or as much they wish and everyone sets their own pace.  Riders may travel whatever distance they choose, with guide service and van transport available at any time they wish to stop.  Flexibility is a bonus, as tired riders or non-bicyclists have the option to shuttle parts of any route or choose a different activity.  There are no worries over reservations, as lodging and arrangements are planned as part of the travel package.  Once cyclers arrive at their overnight destination, the bags are in the room waiting and they can enjoy a fresh shower and delicious meal.  Many of the hotels are carefully hand-selected by the tour staff, heightening the experience.

A rewarding cycling vacation offers a chance to discover the world from a new perspective, much as we did when we were young.  If you’re in able physical condition, don’t let age deter you from what makes you happy.  Instead, opt for safe and novel ways to make the most of life.  Let the image of the rusty bike of my childhood serve as a reminder that it’s best to keep our passions alive.

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C William Sheehan

I have ridden a bicycle since I was six or maybe seven. I started out on a scooter at a lot earlier age. I taught my friend Pete how to ride. We played follow the leader, each rode blindfolded directed by the other and made a “bicycle built for two” by putting his bike’s front fork on my bike’s back axle. It took coordination to ride. We decided it was more fun racing, jumping ditches and going down a steep dirt hill behind the neighborhood school without braking. We both survived childhood craziness. Also, my two older sisters and I rode 25 miles to our grandma’s one day and back the next when we were eleven, ten and nine. We lived in PA. and pushed our 26 inch bikes up the hills, one about a mile long. It was fun coasting down that one. I am over 69 years old… Read more »

Cindy

I found myself smiling, reminded of the bicycle days when I adorned my front forks with pinochle cards held on with sun-bleached wooden laundry clothes pins. I roared down the sidewalk with the power of Kings and Queens! That was when summers seemed to last forever. Thanks for the fun and the great reminder to live every day fully.

John Doyle

I’m another biker returning to the fold, after being away 23 years. I rode a 3-speed bike regularly in the late 60s, and now have a spiffy 19-speed. And yes, there IS a learning curve… again. At nearly 71, nevertheless when I wake up in the morning, I think I’m 37, so biking is The Next Right Thing for me to do. In the metropolitan Atlanta area, there are bike paths, but only today did I have a deluxe bike carrier installed on my car so I can get the bicycle TO them. As a TV weatherman for nearly 45-years, I wasn’t out in the sunshine as much as I look forward to being now, and I suppose I should carry an umbrella with me, just to avoid embarrassment! Those forecasts are tricky.

John Doyle
Retired from WSB-TV, Channel 2,
and The Weather Channel

8/3/2013
1:09 PM

Diana Erbio

Thanks for the reminder about the past pleasures of pedaling! I am not sure I am confident enough to go on a long tour, but my husband and I have enjoyed bicycling at local parks recently. As a kid my bicycle was so much more than a pedaling toy, it was freedom! Today it is a time machine to younger days!