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BIKING WITH MY BROTHER
C O N Q U E R I N G 7 0 M I L E S O F T H E T O U R D E B I G B E A R
I ’m one of those lucky people in the world who shares a hobby and passion with their brother. This August, my brother and I took our passion to the Tour de Big Bear bike ride with about 1,500 other eager riders. There was a variety of race options available, ranging from 25 miles to 125 miles, so we decided to hop onto the 70-mile ride and see where it took us. Like me, my brother is an avid biker. At the age of 64, he’s been biking for about 30 years, and he doesn’t let his age define him on the bike, keeping pace with 20-year-olds cruising down the road. On this particular ride, we took off around 8 a.m. with a stream of flowing bicycles carrying every body type imaginable and a sea of varying spandex colors. Participants ranged from people who were nearly 400 pounds to scrawny little kids. The beginning of the race starts with a 10-mile loop around the side of a mountain, and throughout the course there are eight stops for bikers to rest up and get some extra nutrition. At the end of this 10-mile loop, I was waiting for my brother, who was less than a minute behind me, when a woman with a thick German accent asked me if I could help her with her bike. As I was quickly reminded, no good deed goes unpunished. I said “Sure” and managed to get her bike chain unstuck and work out the kink. This is where my expertise from building seven bicycles comes in handy. I managed to get the woman back on her way, but as I looked down at my hands, I noticed they were caked in grease; this woman had grease on her chain from here to high heaven. I knew I had two options: I could either ride the next four hours with greasy hands in my gloves, or I could find some way to clean them. So, I began scraping my hands with rocks and gravel on the side of the road to try
to wipe them clean. Eventually my brother caught up with me, and he grabbed a peanut butter sandwich before we rode off. Ten miles in, and we had already had a quick pit stop, some MacGyver hand- cleaning, and a lunch break. Eventually we made our way to the Onyx summit, which is also about 10 miles long and on a 4–5 percent grade. This route can be troublesome for some riders, as it’s a consistent, steady
incline for them to pedal up. Some people were dealing with cramping while others were puking as they pushed their way through the course.
Fortunately for my brother and me, we seemed to zip along the trail pretty quickly, making our way up in about 40 minutes. When I looked at my GPS app on the way down the Onyx trail, I noticed I was cruising along at 42 miles per hour. That’s the thing about biking that you don’t realize at first: You can use your body and strength to push yourself and go faster than you’d ever imagine you could go. We ended the race in just over 4 hours, and we were able to keep moving along pretty well. I guess it’s true what they say about having fun: Time sure does fly by.
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