Sunday, July 28, 2013

Friends to the end.

Have you ever had that feeling you're passing up something good, but not sure?  That happened to me Saturday while I was pedaling home after splitting off from a ride with friends.  I was rolling out of Dalton on the trail to Massillon when I noticed a car with a flatbed trailer parked at the West Lebanon Rd Crossing.  It's not unusual to see someone hauling a bunch of bikes piled in a truck bed or tied down on a trailer, but this one was small, tidy and side-less. I rode on trying to figure out what they had on the trailer.

It didn't take very long before I saw what appeared to be two older folks riding down the trail on their 3 wheeled bikes enjoying the sunny afternoon.  As I passed by I bid them a "good day" and noticed something you seldom see, a tow strap between the two trikes.  The strap was slack and dragging as they cruised along making me think "why".  My best and probably only guess was rider No. 2 was too weak to pedal on his own and the lead rider was helping her best friend.  By the time I reached Deerfield Ave. my brain was in overdrive wondering what the story was behind the strap so I stopped and went back.

That is when I met Helen and Marion Helmuth and heard their story.  I felt odd asking them to stop and chat with me, but it didn't take long before the two were telling me their story, I just hope I have the facts correct.  Helen and Marion reside in Navarre, Ohio and lived near a young man named Ernie Lehman who went on to start Ernie's Bike Shop where they later purchased their trikes.  I asked them how long they've been married and Helen told me it was over 61 years, a landmark in my opinion.  To make the world feel a litttle smaller, I found out Marion is the brother of my friend David Helmuth's Grandfather, otherwise, his Great Uncle.  According to Marion, one of David's other relatives used to be a long distance cyclist many years ago.

Approximately two and a half years ago, Marion had a massive heart attack that required bypass surgery.  The attack left him weak and he wanted to do something to build his strength so they bought the trikes from Ernie to help him regain his fitness.  To help expand their riding to somewhere besides Navarre, they bought the trailer that I had seen to haul the trikes to the Dalton and Fredericksburg Trails.  So far they have pedaled approximately 200 miles this summer.

We talked about other bikes they'd seen like the side by sides and 2 seated trikes but what could be more interesting than the tow strap?  According to Marion, he struggles to keep up with Helen and to keep her from getting away, he tied a strap between the bikes and when he becomes too tired to pedal, Helen helps pull him back.  Helen told me it also helps keep her fitness also and it gives them something to do together.  They also ride them around town with their orange flags and slow moving vehicle signs attached making friends along the way.

I am very grateful I stopped to talk to them, they were the highlight of my week and you could tell that even after all these years, they still have a zest for living which you could see in their smiles and hear in their voices.  I didn't hear the typical resentments you hear these days when one spouse is dragging the other down due to health or fitness.  Thankfully, Marion's health is getting better and I have to believe that not only is it due to his pedaling, but due to Helen helping him along the way.  And besides, what fun is it doing it alone?

Having someone to do things with makes doing it that much more enjoyable.  We have a few senior ladies who come into Orrville Cycling & Fitness who spend their summers here in Ohio and the winters in Florida.  I recently assembled a special bike rack that holds one bicycle and one 3 wheeled bike for the car they drive so they can take their bikes with them when they travel back and forth.  And it's not always folks buying 3 wheeled bikes that stand out.  Since I started working at the Orrville shop, I've noticed the differences in couples that come in to buy bikes.  Those couples who both want to ride, whether they are new riders or just folks getting newer bikes, they seem to be more happy go lucky.  Last week I helped get all four members of a family set up with new bikes, they were fun people to work with.

So think about this the next time you wonder what your future holds for you, it's what you make of it.  You're  getting older, retired or darn close to it, you have your spouse and or best friend sitting there next to you, skip the the television that's polluted with fake reality and go ride!  As our 35th President, John F. Kennedy said; "Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike".