Sunday, May 31, 2009

Food, folks and fun

I'm having the best year of my biking life, and not just because I'm logging more miles. I wouldn't trade this CoeBRAI experience for anything. The experiences we share and the friendships that develop are intensely rewarding.

Saturday night, for instance, I was able to have dinner with Gary and Gail Van Rooyan. Gary is an attorney in Houston who graduated from Coe in 1968. He and Gail are serious cyclists and really good people. As evidence, while visiting Cedar Rapids to visit Gary's daughter and celebrate a granddaughter's birthday, they made time to get together with me and my family.

Gary and Gail joined CoeBRAI in 2007, even though Gary was still recovering from a fall. Broken ribs as I recall. I was shocked to learn that, in addition to surviving Hurricane Ike in 2008, Gary suffered a serious bike accident. While biking in a group of 15, he was clipped by a semi hauling sod and spent a week in the hospital and three months in a wheelchair. Multiple fractures and a lengthy rehabilitation later, Gary is back on his bike and hoping to rejoin CoeBRAI in 2010.

While I remain accident-free (knock on wood), I can't imagine what it must be like to get back on the bike after such an experience. You are an inspiration, Gary, and I really hope you and Gail will join us again next year.

Today, I surpassed 400 miles on an awesome ride with 1985 Coe graduate and soon-to-be three-time CoeBRAI veteran Bob Untiedt. We ventured to Sutliff Cider, where we found fellow CoeBRAIers and Coe staffers Tom Hicks and Erik Albinson pressing apples. With stops at the cider company and Chameleons -- my favorite Mount Vernon eatery -- we covered 35 miles in about four hours.

I propose this as a group ride in the coming weeks. I'm in Wisconsin next weekend for a wedding and the following weekend is Coe's last June Reunion and Relay For Life, although my Sunday is open. I can't imagine a better way to celebrate Fathers' Day and the start of summer June 21. Any takers?

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