Time to pull out the old bicycle

By David Lindeman
Contributing columnist

Every spring when the days get longer and warmer I pull out my old bicycle.

I’ve been doing this for more than 60 years, although the older I get the harder it gets each year to get back on the road.

This year was worse than most. Over the winter, I tweaked my back trying to lift things the same way I did 30 years ago. I’m still not quite back to normal, but over the weekend my wife talked me into getting back on the bike and hitting the bike trail with her.

We used to ride bikes together way back in high school. For many years after we got married, other things got in the way of bicycle trips. But a few years ago, with our children grown up and bicycle trails popping up all over this part of Ohio, we got back on our bikes. Piece by piece, we’ve traveled just about all the paths from Cincinnati up to Piqua and Urbana. We’ve seen a lot of interesting things on those bike paths.

You see, back when I was young and my brother and I were riding around on our silver sting rays, there were no bicycle paths. We thought nothing of hitting the main roads and playing chicken with pickup trucks and all sorts of other moving vehicles. We learned to get out of the way when guys in high school came up behind us — some of them got some kind of perverse joy out of seeing how close they could come to clipping your handlebars. Fortunately, I never had a bad accident, which is more than I can say now that I do most of my riding on bike trails.

But back to last weekend. I was a little stiff but as we headed toward Tipp City I started to feel a little better. The paths around here often have lots of wildflowers along the sides and they were out in full bloom, which is always good for your spirit if not for your bad back.

We noticed a new trend on our ride. We counted at least a dozen EV bikes on our short ride. These bicycles have little electric motors that can help you out when you’re heading into the wind or up a hill or when you would just rather not do any more pedaling. I’m not ready for one of those — yet.

By the time we started back home after a short break at Kyle Park, we weren’t exactly moving at a speed that would get us into the Tour de France. We have these little computer things on our bikes that tell us how fast we’re going, how far we’ve gone, how long we’ve been riding and all kinds of other things. Let’s just say our miles per hour readout showed we were moving faster than walking but not as fast as some people on their electric bikes who passed us with their feet up on their handlebars.

At one point, we heard someone coming up behind us. Bicycle etiquette calls for slower riders, which would be us, to get into single file on the right-hand side so the faster riders can pass. So we scooted over and waited for someone to pull around us. And we waited. And we waited. Then we looked, and no one was there.

Where did he go? He didn’t turn around, we would have seen him going in the other direction. He didn’t pull off the path because at this point there was nowhere to go except into the old canal on one side and the river on the other side. He just disappeared.

Ghost rider!

Is it possible the bike path is haunted? Is there some ghostly rider on an old sting ray sneaking up on unsuspecting riders? Was he set on scaring us but gave up because we were going so slow? Probably not. I still have no explanation, but one of the advantages of getting older is you can just blame things on your failing hearing or bad eyesight and forget about them. Even if there were such a thing as a ghost cyclist, it would be way too much work for him to try to scare people like us.

The next morning, my back told me it wasn’t all that happy with me being back on a bike, so it looks like it could be a slow year on the bike path this year. That’s OK, at this stage of life you have to expect something to hurt when you get up in the morning. It’s just one way to let you know that you’re still alive.

David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected].