Who am I and why am I doing this?

My name is John.  My love affair with cycling goes back over 50 years. At age four, I got my first set of wheels.  A red Murray tricycle.

Apparently I was already looking forward to having a cargo bike...

 

In 1969 for my 6th birthday I got a Schwinn Stingray wannabe.  Lots of companies made knockoffs of the iconic kids bike from the early 70s.  I'm sure mine was from Sears or Montgomery Ward.

I know I didn't care.  It had a banana seat and ape-hanger bars, so it was cool!

Other bikes came later.  There was an early 1970s Triumph.  That was stolen.  Then a rusty beat-up 1950s bike with a fake gas-tank.  Delivering papers on that made my legs really strong!

In high school I got my first 10-speed: a Raleigh Rampar.  This was Raleigh's cheaper line, made in Taiwan & India instead of Japan. 

I had just seen "Breaking Away" and lived in southern Indiana, so it was pretty much my Tour de France training bike.

I grew away from bikes after high school.  Went into the military, and forgot about bikes for several years.  The love came back in the early 1990s when I began doing charity rides and commuting to work in Milwaukee. 

I got another steel 10-speed (don't remember the brand).  Crashed it into my neighbor's truck and  bent the frame.  That was replaced by an aluminum Cannondale R400 that served me well for many years.  I participated in the first few Trek 100s and it moved with me to Florida, California & Colorado.

The biking bug hit me harder once I moved to Denver in the mid-2000s.  I acquired a Rivendell Atlantis on eBay, and a Bianchi Milano, which I turned into an Xtra-cycle with a conversion kit.

The Atlantis became my commuting & randonneur ride, while the Xtra-cycle was for shopping, kid-hauling and any other cargo-needs.

In the late 2000s I experimented with refurbishing old bikes.  I found a late 80s Schwinn Le Tour Tourist, and turned it into a snazzy ride for my daughter.

At some point, the Xtra-cycle was transformed into what I called the "Boom Bike" with speakers on both sides.  I used this for block parties, Denver Cruiser rides, and even as a playground party machine at the school where I worked.

For the last several years, I have had a desire to ride across the country. 

 

After a health-scare in 2018, where I almost had stents put in, I began thinking more seriously about doing this.  It felt a bit as if time was running out.

I used my latest refurbished bike - a 1984 British Mercian to ride the Tour de Nebraska in 2019.  This was a five-day ride totaling about 275 miles. 

I thought of this as a test - if I couldn't complete this multi-day ride, I had no business considering cross-country touring.  Fortunately, it went well, and I had no health issues.

For 2020, I have a more ambitious ride planned.  Working at a school gives me summers off.  I plan to spend pretty much the entire month of June on a bike.

Here's the plan: My wife will drop me off in Pueblo, where I will begin riding to St. Louis, where my daughter lives.  From there I will hop an Amtrak train (with the bike) and end up in Lincoln, NE.  I will work my way over to Kearney and participate in the 33rd Annual Tour de Nebraska.  After that, I will hop another train to southern Iowa, ride up to Dubuque, where my sister lives.  Then I'll ride across Wisconsin to visit my friend Tom in Milwaukee.  Another Amtrak ride will take me back to Denver.

It will be over 1600 miles - some days over 100.  Most nights I will camp, but will also use a website called Warm Showers (like AirB&B for cyclists) as well as stay in a few B&Bs and hotels.

The reason I call this blog "Younger on Two Wheels" is because of the feeling I get when riding.  That sense of speed, wind in my face and freedom take me back to riding as a kid or teenager.  The sense of accomplishment I get when arriving somewhere after a long ride is icing on the cake.

Additionally for me, this is a way to try to roll back the clock on my body.  Lose some weight, improve my cardiovascular and overall health, and try to look younger as well as feel younger.

That's why I'm doing this.  If successful, I plan more challenging rides next summer.  Perhaps San Francisco to Denver (mountains!) or Denver to North Carolina where my dad lives.  We'll see!  Follow along on the blog as I post updates on my preparations, and daily reports and pictures once I'm riding.

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