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Sixty what!

Sixty-nine. There was a time in my youth when that seemed like an extremely high number. And I'm strictly speaking in reference to one's age. Well, today I reached that lofty mark, bookending the final year in my 60s. Say it isn't so.

So what better present than a birthday ride. Being November, that's often an iffy proposition. A scan of my cycling logbook revealed that I've only been able to take a spin eight times on Nov. 26 since 2001. As far as for today, the forecast isn't looking very promising — rain throughout the morning, changing over to snow in the early afternoon. Hopefully, the weatherman is wrong for once!

Birthday boy!

Due to the fact that it is my special day, I thought it would be interesting to pedal backward to 1952, my birth year, to see what was happening in the world ... pertaining to riding a bicycle. Here are a few noteworthy items I discovered:

— Paris–Roubaix, held in northern France, is one of cycling's oldest races and is one of the "Monuments" or classics of the European calendar. It is often referred to as "The Hell of the North." In 1952, it was held on April 13, going a distance of 152 miles. The winner was Rik Van Steenbergen from Belgium.

— The 1952 Tour de France was the 39th edition of the well-known race. It took place from June 25 to July 19. It was composed of 23 stages, covering 3,043 miles. It was won by Italian Fausto Coppi.

— The 1952 Giro d'Italia, one of the three Grand Tours, was the 35th edition. The Giro started off in Milan on May 17 and also concluded there on June 8. Sixteen teams entered the race, which was won by Italian Fausto Coppi of the Bianchi team.

— The Schwinn catalog in 1952 for its Hornet model contained the following message: "America's Favorite Bicycle. What a combination! Trim dashing lines, superior Schwinn workmanship, and a complete line-up of equipment including streamlined tank with built-in horn, powerful Rocket-Ray headlight, sturdy luggage carrier, and truss rods. No wonder more kids choose the Schwinn Hornet than any other bicycle ... and the low price will amaze you. Fully guaranteed As-Long-As-You-Own-It." It sold for $59.95; I saw one on eBay going for $1,200.

— “Curious George Rides a Bike” was a children's book written and illustrated by Margret Rey and H. A. Rey and published by Houghton Mifflin in 1952. It was the third book of the original Curious George series and tells the story of George's new bicycle and his experiences performing with an animal show.

— Russ Mantle, an 82-year-old cyclist from Aldershot in Hampshire, was the first person in Great Britain to complete 1,000,000 miles of cycling. The retired carpenter had maintained a meticulous log of all his rides since 1952, averaged 14,700 miles every year. He accomplished the feat in 2019.

— In 1952, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became Royal Patron of the Cyclists’ Touring Club, which began in 1878.

— Italian Giovanni Pinarello opened the Cicli Pinarello bicycle shop in 1952, following a brief stint as a professional racer. The Pinarello brand would grow relatively slowly for the next several decades before exploding onto the national scene in the 1990s.

Anyway, happy birthday to me, and here's to another year of safe cycling.

MILEAGE UPDATE: I'm currently at 6,202. Only 798 more miles to reach 7,000.

'Thought for the day'

"He dropped down the hills on his bicycle. The roads were greasy, so he had to let it go. He felt a pleasure as the machine plunged over the second, steeper drop in the hill ... His bicycle seemed to fall beneath him, and he loved it." — D.H. Lawrence, English writer and poet

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

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Happy birthday brother! Now go knock 69 miles out today!

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