Cycle of life

I hope I'm able to ride a bicycle to a ripe old age, right up until my very last day on Mother Earth. As they say, only time will tell.

There was a recent story in The Washington Post about a Frenchman, who it seems experienced a remarkable cycle of life. His name was Robert Marchand. I got the impression he wanted to be a professional cyclist, but was repeatedly discouraged from doing so — having only been five-foot tall and weighing 115 pounds. Heck, in today's peloton, the smaller the better is the general rule.

Anyway, Marchand's love for riding a bike never died away. Here are a few milestones he ended up accomplishing:

— Cycled from Paris to Moscow in 1992.

— Set the 62-mile record for cyclists past the age of 100.

— Established, in January 2017, the world record in the 105-plus age category by riding 14 miles in one hour on a velodrome near Paris.

Marchand passed away a few weeks ago, at the age of 109. Near the time of his death, he was still pedaling 20 minutes a day on his exercise bike. I wouldn't mind sharing a similar fate, after all, the French cyclist and I have the same birth date ... November 26.

And she's off!

I'm a big believer in the occurrence of chance happenings, especially while pedaling a bicycle. I guess a prime example for me was getting run over by a truck while cycling, and, ultimately, meeting my future wife.

These chance happenings — or opportunities — while out cruising the roads of Maine often develop into blog postings. Such as the one I'm recalling today.

Out enjoying her brand-new e-bike.

Coming from opposite directions, I and another cyclist arrived at an intersection the other day and ended up turning onto the same road. I always welcome a chat with other riders.

Pulling up alongside the woman, I commented on the nice weather, given the fact that it had been raining for the last two days. She was in agreement, adding — and implying — that she was on a brand-new bike and riding it in wet conditions wasn't an option.

I looked over, noticed the enlarged down tube, and said straightaway, "Oh, it's an e-bike." She replied, "Yes, it's the only way I can cycle with my asthma."

Approaching a series of hills, I was about to engage in more conversation. But almost instantaneously, she was off ... leaving me in the dust. She put the hammer down with the bike's battery-powered motor, while I was cranking my pedals like a madman and going nowhere. No time for talk for this gal.

I thought — if I was lucky — I'd be able to catch the speed demon a mile or so up the road, during a long descent, and that's exactly what happened. Passing her, I asked permission to take her photo and said have a nice ride. This chance encounter made me feel glad that there was a type of bicycle available which allowed this woman to enjoy the outdoors and go for a pedal.

'Thought for the day'

"Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling." — James E. Starrs, editor, The Literary Cyclist

From "Words To Ride By ... Thoughts on Bicycling" by Michael Carabetta (Chronicle Books, 2017)

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