Is cycling the fountain of youth?
By Dan Sheridan
Originally Published in Marion Star August 16, 2009
After a steep climb in a steady rain during a recent bicycle tour, I stopped to catch my breath. As I watched many discouraged cyclists dismount and walk up the hill, Tom Cline pedaled over the crest with a broad smile on his wet face.
Cline’s contagious energy and upbeat attitude would be impressive in anyone, but are especially remarkable since Cline is 85 years old.
At age 74, Cline mentioned to his wife, Dolly, and daughter that he’d like to take up bicycling. They purchased a bicycle as a gift for him. Cline jokes that Dolly now regrets the gift, because he’s never home.
Cline, of Berlin Heights, Ohio, has completed at least 17 week-long bicycle trips in the last 11 years. He rides about 4,000 miles a year, continuing his cycling in Florida in the winter. He has done a number of 100 mile “century rides”, most recently in May, 2008. When he’s not on the bicycle, Cline enjoys walking for exercise.
Cline, a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, was selected for an “Honor Flight” trip to the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC on August 8, 2009. (This non-profit program transports veterans to the nation’s capital so that they can visit and reflect at their memorials.)
After his military service, Cline enjoyed a varied career, driving semis, owning a campground, and selling recreational vehicles. He raced stock cars in 1949 and 1950, stopping when he married Dolly. The two will celebrate their 60th anniversary in 2010.
Cline advises prospective cyclists to “Start by going 5 miles, and then 10 miles. Keep building up, and soon you’ll be able to go 100 miles.”
Robert “Corky” Cusick is also a firm believer in staying active. Cusick and his wife Helen lived for many years along the Scioto River south of Prospect, but moved to the Columbus area several years ago. Cusick has been my cycling companion on many long rides.
Cusick will be 79 years old in September. A veteran of the Korean War, Cusick started riding seriously when he retired at age 62, and bicycled across the USA at age 65. Cusick has ridden the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure at least ten times, and has completed the 210 mile two-day Tour of the Scioto River Valley a number of times.
Cusick tries to ride his bike at least every other day, usually cycling 10 to 20 miles. He occasionally goes on longer rides, including a 62 mile journey on a rainy day a few weeks ago. Like Cline, Cusick also enjoys walking.
According to Cusick, “You’re never too old to start something. Your body needs to be active. You’ve got to keep it going.”
Cusick advises novice cyclists “Plan a long ride, and then train for it. The more you ride, the better shape you’ll be in, and the more you’ll enjoy it.” Cusick is hoping to ride the 62 mile route on the MGH Popcorn Tour on September 12th.
Cusick’s cool weather cycling clothing enables him to continue to ride in the cooler months of the year, and he ventures out as long as the weather is not severe. He advises cyclists to strive for visibility by wearing bright colors.
Cusick does not worry about his cycling speed, saying “There’s no medal for getting there first. There’s no hurry, nobody is chasing you.”
Cline and Cusick are two of the many “golden cyclists” who inspire me with their enthusiasm, commitment to fitness, and love of adventure.
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