Louisville Wheelmen

Louisville Wheelmen Newsletter -- March-April 1996


by David Stewart

My uncle was an aviator in WW2. He flew PBYís on submarine patrol. After the war ended, things got really quiet. Sitting around the air base, he talked his way into a chance to fly a Mustang. He took it up as high as the fighter could fly and then dived the plane at the sea until it reached its maximum speed. Why push it after he had survived the war and was ready to go back to civilian life? In Vietnam, I knew a guy who flew loaches, as we called light observation helicopters. Once I watched him fly, steady and alert, skimming the surface of the water and then fly under a bridge on the Song Be River. Why take unnecessary risks in a life already filled with chances for something to go wrong? Why this need to be so bold?

One topic Iíve heard discussed at the Thursday night trainer rides are the long rides. 140, 165 miles in a single day. Why would anyone do that? In the last issue of the newsletter, Joe Kipp recapped the Annual Awards Banquet. Bill Pustow and Gail Clay earned the Yellow Jerseys for the most miles ridden. Why would these people push to put in that many miles?

Bill Pustow explained it to Dave Leist this way, ďItís my job, Dave.Ē As with many things said in jest, the truth typically isnít too far off. It is our ďjobs,Ē as aviators, cyclists or as everyday human beings to push for the ultimate point in our experience. That point may be determined by speed or distance or skill or any other measurable unit. The drive to achieve that point requires that we take a step beyond the edge of the commonplace. It comes with our first basic understanding that each of us is an individual, separate but a part of all thatís around us. What it produces is satisfaction. While satisfaction isnít measurable, itís essential.

The records we pursue are all personal. We may stack them up against a public standard, as Bill did when he rode 6325 miles. Or the standard may be our secret and recognized within our own souls only. My personal records for this year have already been identified. I took a long ride during the January warm spell. It was great to be on the road again but the real satisfaction was from averaging a higher speed than I did over the same course last October. As the temperature dipped following the January warm spell, I set out to ride on a bright, sunny, absolutely frigid Saturday. Why? Iíve ridden in the lazy days of summer when it is 98į and I wanted to set my personal record for the opposite extreme.

Human beings have the need, once weíre given a momentís freedom from the demanding duties of daily existence, to rise to new heights. Thatís part of how weíre made. Cycling fills this need quite naturally. Itís always easy to know how fast or how far and to be tempted to push a little further. ďA little furtherĒ may mean 15 miles for the first time on a summer Monday or doing The Old Kentucky Home Tour faster than the year before. For some people, this can be pretty bold. Riding a Century for the first time is a bold effort for others. Making it from the Belvedere to the Tennessee border in a single day is my idea of an honorable goal. As with most goals, the attempt can be public or a closely guarded secret. Whatís important is that we all make the effort. Within an organization such as the Louisville Wheelmen, the resources are available to attain whatever cycling goal we aspire to. This year, next year, and from now on.

Iíve already been focusing on how bold Iíll be this year. Iím watching the information on tours and picking what I want to pursue. Beyond my numerical goals, my plans for this year are:

  • To set reasonable goals. If Iím riding 25 miles a week, Iím not going to do a Century that weekend. By the same token, if Iím riding 150 miles every week, Iím going to set a high enough goal to come out satisfied with my effort at the end of the ride.
  • To ride with more people. Riding alone is fine for the winter, but not for the rest of the year. The best idea of the new year, so far, has been the group trainer rides that Mary Margaret Williams and Kevin Clay put on. I prefer sweating with someone else. For me, thatís the entire point of club membership. Iíve met a lot of interesting people in the past year. Iím looking forward to meeting more.
  • To learn how to ride easily. It may sound like it, but this isnít a training issue. Itís an issue of how hard Iíll push. I will not always ride to break a speed record, even if itís only my own. Iíll cruise and enjoy the scenery. Sometimes.
  • To hear more stories. I listened to a wonderful story by a woman who cycled through Ireland. Joe Kipp told me how he used to ride across Oldham County to court Tammy. Adventure Cycling has put Don and Mary Margaret Williams on a list of hosts for touring cyclists. Iíve heard the stories about the ride in Iowa and the back-to-back centuries between Columbus and Portsmouth, OH. Tell me a good story and Iíll ride with you anywhere.
The plan, as you can see, is to have a good time, to enjoy myself! The records will follow naturally. Itís going to be a good year, donít you think?

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Copyright ©1996 The Louisville Wheelmen

last updated: 25 February 1996
by Duc M. Do