Part 5 – Adulthood, Job, Family And The Dream Survives
Around my Senior year of college, my brother Mike started doing some long distance running and completed a 12 mile run in Chicago. He got the brilliant idea that we should do the Mayor Daley Marathon. Being the college educated scholar, I said “I’ll do it if you do it”. Next thing you know we’re running marathons. It was while I was running the Pizza Hut Marathon in Bloomington, IN with my college buddy, Neal Morehead that I met my future wife, Becky. The first time I met her she was dating Neal and I was doing a semester of grad school. Since I was an engineering major, I wasn’t dating anyone. [What does an engineer use for birth control – his personality, Bazinga – yes there’s an element of truth to the Big Bang Theory characters]. A year later, I was working at Western Electric outside Chicago, running the Pizza Hut Marathon a second time and she was NOT dating Neal. Two years later we were married. I ran marathons for another 10 years or so and started riding the Hilly Hundred in Bloomington regularly. When the 2 kids came along, I still ran, but did not bike as much.
I think it was between our son and before our daughter that my brother Mike rode from his place in Steger, IL to my home in Noblesville, IN. I think it may have taken him only 12 hours or so to make the nearly 180 mile journey. Back to the “I’ll do it if you do it” rule, I did the ride from my Dad’s house in S. Chicago Heights back to Noblesville the following year. Becky provided SAG service while 6 months pregnant with our future daughter. I still did not have a bike computer or speedometer. I DID have a Huret odometer. It was a mechanical device that had a small rubber band that acted like a belt drive between the front axle and a small counter mounted at the bottom of the front fork of the bike. At least I could tell how far I had gone, which was 180 miles in about 12 hours, including stops. If you discounted stopping time, I averaged close to 18 MPH while on the bike and 15 MPH for the whole trip. I had finally graduated to biking shorts with an integrated padded chamois seat. I was still wearing running shoes with my toe clips (stirrups), but was using padded biking gloves. I’d replaced the wheels on the Raleigh with conventional tires/tubes that were still light, but less prone to flats.
As a parent, I was finally wearing a helmet. It was an original Bell Biker I had bought few years earlier. It was one of the first bike helmets ever made beyond the leather hairnets you’d see racers wear. The evil frat guys are wearing them in the 1979 movie “Breaking Away” during the Little 500 bike race finale. In spite of the padding, it took 2 or 3 days until I got all the feeling back in my palms and butt.
Fast forward 20 or 30 years and the kids are through college as independent productive citizens. And that is independent as in “off the family payroll”. In August of 2012 I took an early retirement package from Hewlett-Packard. In my parting emails to my coworkers, I said that I would ride my bike coast to coast at some point soon. In listening to Dave Ramsey and others, I learned that if you have a BHAG (loosely translated as a Big Goal) you should tell everyone you know. Then whenever they see you, they’ll ask – “How’s that BHAG coming along?” Everyone behaves differently if someone else is watching. You really behave differently if a whole bunch of people are watching. I worked a part time job while I hunted for another full time IT gig. I landed a good job with an IT company for another 2+ years and pulled the plug shortly before I turned 59.5. Before I retired from my IT gig at Logicalis, I told everyone that I would be riding my bike from coast to coast in the spring of 2016. Accountability is an amazing motivational force.
The Lone Rider