Arizona Daily Star article features Mike Noonan '87, who caught the biking bug as a teenager on RAGBRAI and now shares it with his teenage daughter. Maybe they'll join us some time.
Dad comes full cycle
Cyclist, daughter following route of bonding on bikes
By Patrick Finley
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
When Mike and Karolyn Noonan board their bicycles Saturday to race in El Tour de Tucson's 66-mile race, they'll be doing more than participating in a Tucson tradition.
The 45-year-old Noonan and his 16-year-old daughter will be continuing a family bond that started 33 years ago, long before Karolyn was born.
Here's a look at what Iowa, orange juice and "Manhood Training" have to do with Saturday's ride.
• Manhood training: Noonan grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the son of a high school coach, Robert. In 1976, Robert Noonan, a cycling enthusiast, decided his son needed "Manhood Training" — and enrolled the two in a famous bike ride.
Father and son did the Des Moines Register-sponsored RAGBRAI, Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, which bills itself the longest, oldest and largest touring event in the world. They rode 70 miles per day for seven days, dipping their bike tires in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers along the way.
Mike Noonan liked the ride so much he didn't complain when his father wouldn't let him have a moped like his friends; he didn't own his first car until he was a senior in college.
"I think what it is, is it's the bond it created with my father and I," he said. "I see it as an adult. I want that same bond with my children."
• Bribed with breakfast: Mike Noonan's daughter, Karolyn, rode El Tour's 35-miler two years ago, and began riding on Sunday mornings with her father.
Noonan, who along with his wife, Katie, runs Noonan Physical Therapy and Associates, figured bicycle riding would be a good way for Karolyn to recover from a knee injury this year.
"My dad and I would get up on Sunday mornings before church and bike to Mile Marker 1 on Mount Lemmon, and then to the coffee shop," she said. "After I got comfortable with 1, we went to 2 and then 3. The farthest I've got is 5 1/2."
In the summer, her dad swears, Karolyn would wake up at 6 a.m. to ride — quite a feat for a teenager. They'd ride, eat and go to church.
"The carrot at the end was, 'I'll take you to breakfast at Le Buzz,'" he said, referring to a cafe on Tanque Verde Road. "She likes quiche and freshly squeezed OJ and fruit. I think that was the idea — 'I'll suffer, then Dad will buy me breakfast.'"
• A bond: Mike Noonan, who rides competitively with his friends, uses the Sunday trip as a "recovery ride" — and as a chance to bond with his daughter. He has two boys, but they're busy playing team sports.
"She's my oldest," he said. "She likes fitness, and she and I have things we can do."
Karolyn Noonan, a Salpointe Catholic High School junior, sees it as a chance to bond with her dad, regardless of how the two do Saturday. They're prepared, having done 50 miles — to Vail and back — 10 days ago.
"Obviously, my dad's at work, and I'm at school usually," she said. "It's really nice to go out with him and spend time with him."