Sunday, April 26, 2009

Time to Take out the Bike and Go for a Ride

We have had nice warm weather for a change. Unfortunately my hips are way off again and I am struggling through my runs. So today I decided to take my bikes out and get them ready for the spring and summer. I then took my mountain bike out for a 10 mile trail ride to mix things up a bit. Riding bikes brings me back to being a kid more than any other activity.

These are old pictures of one my of my best days ever. I was in fourth grade and I had entered my dog, Midge, in my town's Kid's Kennel Ration dog show. Midge was a smart little dog and she won first place for best trick dog and second place for best costume.

Midge did three tricks. On command, Midge would roll over or jump though my hands shaped into a big "O". She also would sit up on her hind legs and after I put I doggie bone on her nose she would wait until I signalled and then flip it in the air and catch it. We made a cardboard box saddle to put on her and put a mock up of a knight riding her back for her costume. At the end of the dog show, they took the five best dogs, and chose a "Best of Show". Midge won and I got to go to Woolworths and choose any bike I would like as my prize. I chose a banana seated sting-ray beauty and all the neighborhood kids envied my cool bike.

I rode that bike everywhere. Back in those days, moms and dads didn't always provide transportation, so I took it to baseball games, with my glove clutched to the handlebars, or I would carry my trumpet case as I rode a few miles to go to my lessons and back. I rode with my friends endlessly around town and raced around the block. Of course, we made ramps to jump over, played bumper cars on our bikes, and popped wheelies every chance we got. If we were really bored we'd tie a rope to our bikes and pull each other on roller skates around the neighborhood. My dog would often accompany us on our many adventures.

Midge was a runner and a very fast dog! She would chase cars all the time. Sometimes she would keep up for a mile, through the neighborhoods of Falmouth, yipping at the back wheel of a car. She also liked to run with me, after I discovered the sport. I often took her on a three mile loop that I liked to repeat down to the beaches of Falmouth. The route included the last 1 1/2 miles of the famous Falmouth Road Race course. In the summer I might put her on a leash, but for the rest of the time she ran free.

I remember coming home for Christmas break from college and going for a couple of late night runs in the falling snow. She would start out with me, but then disappear, only to return home later. Her body was getting old, although she still had that running spirit. After returning to college, I later found out that my sister took her for a run and that Midge never returned, and was never seen again. Our guess is that she took one final run and then found a quiet place to die.

Midge is long gone and so is my sting-ray bike, but I still like to get out and cycle. When I get on my road bike, I feel like I am a triathlete-bike racer again. Those days are long gone, too. When I get out my mountain bike, however, I feel like a little kid, playing around in the woods and just having a good time. Of course, I don't have a dog to hang around with anymore. We did have a greyhound, who died a couple of years ago. I couldn't even get her to run around the block with me.

Here is an amazing video showing a biker doing amazing things that my friends and I never even dreamed about doing when we were kids (and that is a good thing!). This video is of Inspired Bicycles team rider Danny MacAskill and was filmed in Edinburgh. He does some simply fantastic stunts.

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