Companions on Wheels
By Dan Sheridan
Originally Published in Marion Star May 10, 2009
Thereís something about a riding a bicycle together that cements a friendship. Cyclists encourage each other when the going is tough, and share the joy of a wonderful tailwind.
Bicyclists tend to be fun-loving people who enjoy adventure, and they quickly bond with kindred souls. Itís easy to have a great conversation while riding down a quiet country road. Many close friendships develop during long cycling trips.
I was an active bicyclist for almost two years before I joined the Heart of Ohio Tailwinds bicycle club. At first, I resisted joining the club, envisioning a gung-ho group of young speedsters who would leave me behind. I was pleasantly surprised to find a friendly, relaxed group.
One of my first rides with the bicycle club was a Saturday morning breakfast trip to Cardington in 1994. On the way home, we were surprised by a heavy downpour on a cool spring day. As we rode north on Richland Road, my front tire suddenly went flat. I didnít want the others to get drenched, so I asked them to go ahead without me. One of the riders, Jerry Wilson, insisted on staying to help. Jerry quickly changed my tire tube for me--my first introduction to the camaraderie of the bicycle club.
In some cases, bicycle club friendships have deepened into marriage. Club president Janine Williamsí friendship with her future husband Mike grew as the three of us enjoyed a hilly 100 mile fall foliage ride in Richland County. I first sensed their romance as we paused at a beautiful sunflower field, and then stopped to enjoy a colorful pumpkin patch. 18 months later, I was honored to be the best man at their wedding.
On a Halloween ride a few years later, Linda Snow taped a broomstick to her bike and wore a witchís hat over her helmet. When Jay De Nise picked that day for his first club ride, romance blossomed, and the two are now married.
Club members welcomed 2009 with another wedding, between cyclists Ian Fairclough and Diana Sexton on New Yearís Day.
During the warmer months, the club has three weekly rides (see sidebar). The Saturday morning ride travels to a nearby town for breakfast, while riders agree upon a destination for the Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening rides.
The club sponsors the popular Hot Tamale bicycle tour the first Saturday in June each year, with most of the proceeds donated to Marion Countyís future rail-trails.
Members often camp near each other on longer trips, such as the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure or the Greene Trails Cycling Classic. They find campsites for each other, help pitch tents, and relax in the shade together.
Some members enjoy club rides because of the relative safety in numbers. As I learned with my 1994 flat tire in the rain, itís comforting to have a friend nearby if something goes wrong.
During the cooler months, the club enjoys winter hikes followed by trips to a nearby restaurant.
For more information about the Heart of Ohio Tailwinds, see www.hot-tamale.org or contact Janine Williams at (740) 382-9952.
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