When in doubt … think of Bob

Riders in mountainsAs I’ve prepared for a transcontinental bicycle trip this fall, I’ve had fleeting doubts about whether I’m up to it — whether this 66-year-old body will be able to endure riding an average of 57 miles a day for 65 days in all sorts of terrain and weather, camping out most nights and hauling everything needed on the bike.
But I’ve learned over the years that everything is relative — that someone, somewhere faces far greater adversity than your own, and still gets the job done.
I recall the blind cyclist on a Bicycle Tour of Colorado who was riding as “stoker” on the rear seat of a tandem, the one-armed cyclist whom I’d seen in organized rides in Dallas-Fort Worth, the riders with prosthetic legs, Lance Armstrong who’s competing this month for his eighth victory in the Tour de France after nearly dying of testicular cancer in 1996. And then, of course, there is Bob.
Bob Klawitter, whom I wrote about for the Star-Telegram in 2001, is a paraplegic who participated several times in the Bicycle Tour of Colorado using a “hand cycle,” a three-wheeled conveyance propelled by a hand crank at chest level. Every year that he rode in the Colorado tour, Bob was a celebrity akin to Lance — a guy who despite overwhelming odds was doing something remarkable.
Ride the Rockies logoA nice piece in the Travel section of Sunday’s Star-Telegram about this year’s Ride the Rockies, another annual bicycle ride in Colorado, expressed similar sentiments about the relativity of adversity.
The writer, friend and former Star-Telegram colleague Kathy Vetter, wrote that she had apprehensions about the ride because she “had never ridden a multiday tour, let alone climbed 12,000-foot passes.”
But she added: “Each time I started to doubt, I’d look for the rider with one arm, or the 7-year-old boy pedaling happily behind his dad on a tandem, or one of the hand cyclists, or even the pesky woman in flip-flops who flew past me and my highly technical cycling outfit almost every day.”
And then, of course, there is Bob.


1 Comment

Filed under Cycling across America, Journeys, Training

One response to “When in doubt … think of Bob

  1. flashriversafari

    Hi Jim – very inspiring piece. I also wanted to thank you for your well-wishes and for the Raban book. Am working on it most nights out on the river. I’ve got to say that the week before I launched the whole idea of the trip was a bit overwhelming – to be sure. But on the day you do embark, all of that stress washes away and you smile and it’s just you and the road – or in my case the river. Let’s face it – these are the trips of a lifetime. All you’ve got to do is step out of your comfort zone, give it your best shot, and let it happen! All best, Neal

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