Iron Man

The first “Iron Man” was Joe McGinnity, Hall of Fame pitcher for John McGraw’s New York Giants.  he started and won both ends of a doubleheader three times, but earned his nickname because he worked in a foundry offseason (back in an era when baseball salaries were relatively in line with those for more mundane occupations and ballplayers had to have other jobs when they weren’t playing).

My friend and fraternity brother Mike is another “Iron Man.”  Not long ago he sent me an email entitled “TaDa!!!”  It showed two photos of a Cat Eye bike computer.  One read “99999”; the other read “0.”  Mike had then ridden 100,000 miles over an eleven year period since retirement in 1999.

Mike rides just about every day in and around Portland, OR.  360 days a year.  25 miles a day.  On two routes.  I asked him how he managed that, when so many days are surely rainy in Portland.  How does one set out in cold, wet weather?  Mike simply says that he, like Christine O’Donnell, is “not a witch,” and does not melt.  Besides, he adds, a hot shower is never more than three hours away.  that might be about 2 hours and 50 minutes too long for some of us.  The few days he does not ride are when very occasional frozen precipitation hits Portland.  One of his two crashes was in such conditions.  Though he was a physics major, Mike must have forgotten the bit in Newton’s Laws about bodies in motion tending to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.  When the ice and snow take away the “outside force” of friction, we cyclists can stay in motion longer than we intend, and in unanticipated directions as well.

Mike says his routes take him over a combination of city streets (mostly on designated bike lanes in cycling-friendly Portland), bike trails, and country roads.  The ability to work out those rich blends of environment on a 25-mile ride is beyond the grasp of a resident in a large (sub)urban area like my Fairfax County, a decidedly non-bicycle-friendly place where all the type-A commuters take it very personally if a cyclist is slowing them down for a few seconds.  The only way to find a perfect combination of environments is to drive the bike some distance to a fringe area, which undercuts the efficiency and “greenness” of a daily ride.

Mike jokingly added to his odometer photos “and now, on to one million…..NOT!”  I suggested all he’d have to do was to extend his daily route a bit, perhaps from Portland to Salem and back.  But Mike will be on the road on his Trek hybrid for years to come, I hope,  cruising those familiar routes.  A true Iron Man, in body and in will.

Have a good ride today, Mike.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010.

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