Wright Ride 2011 – 30 Mile Route

Wright Ride 2011 Registration Area

So Why Do You Ride?

When I was a youngster I used to eagerly anticipate all the new courses I would be taking in school. The prospect of learning something new made me eager with anticipation. The worse thing for me was having a course where either the content or the instructor was a “bust”.

Now in my 60s I ride only those rides that I really find make me eager with anticipation. These are the rides which you are afraid to finish because to do so means that you have to wait another year before you can again experience the exhilaration of seeing something both new and familiar.

The Wright Ride has quickly become one of those must do rides because it presents a nice combination of childhood memories and harkens forward and back to a time which needs to be kept but soon may pass into oblivion. Towns like Western Springs are gems. Connie grew up there. She sees stores and shops that have been there for nearly 60 years or more and is happy that they have survived.

Oak Park where the ride begins is likewise a town with much history and yet it is on the way to transforming itself for a new generation of denizens. Being able to ride through these “time warps” is precisely why I ride. I get to do something I have done since childhood on a tiny trike and now on a gleaming titanium long wheel base recumbent bike. It seems as if there is not much difference between these bikes.

You sit down on either and you view the world mostly from down low, looking up in awe at looming towers and ancient trees. It was a delight then and remains so in my waning years. Neither of us can imagine a lifetime in which we were not allowed to revisit our childhoods on a regular basis from the seat of a bicycle.

Children and Bicycles

At the first rest stop we ran into a family of six who were riding two tandems, one of which was pulling both a trail-a-bike and a bugger! I watched some riders more ancient than I on their way down the roadway delighting as well in doing what they have done all their lives. I knew what they know, we are always children. What distinguishes us in old age from youth is the self-awareness that we bring to the activity of cycling. We are aware of what has happened before today in the environs through which we wander. Children in contrast are merely aware of colors and sounds but not history.

The rest stops at this ride are well run and stocked. If you have not done this ride, “shame on you”. The 30-mile route is flat for the most part. Other routes include:

When we arrived at the second rest stop it was a somewhat melancholy feeling to have reached the turnaround point. It reminds me of how you felt when you realized that the summer was nearly over and you would no longer have your “free time” to yourself. I used to visit my grandmother in Birmingham, AL where summers were hot and days even moreso. We ran around with our “shoes off” all summer long. In the Deep South two things were guaranteed that few children wore shoes and that drinking fountains were always marked “WHITES” and “COLOREDS”. Even the buses had signs telling you where to sit. White folks sat up front and blacks (coloreds) in the rear.

The rise of the Tea Party helps me remember those days. The faces are different and the rhetoric more subdued but sure as I live and breathe Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner would be able to pick out their offspring from among today’s bunch of bigots and rednecks. And one has only to spend a short time listening to the political speeches of those who are attempting to appeal to this crowd to know that it will take a Southern bigot who is a governor or an Evangelical whose theology has taken a sharp turn away from the compassionate bent of the Missionaries of old who founded schools and medical relief agencies a couple of generations ago.

It is enough to make one wonder whether a good bit of bicycle therapy might not be in store for those who warrant rescue from their cold heartedness. Gone are the notions of George W. Bush that Conservatives could also be Compassionate. In its place the latter has be replaced with Arrogance and Holier-Than-Thou-ness.

You know that something is afoot when the head of the National Association of Evangelicals preaches wildly against homosexuality and is discovered to be frequenting a male prostitute who also supplies him with meth-amphetamines. Where is George Wallace or Bull Conner when you need them? There was not a dimes worth of difference between them and the likes of today’s Conservatives excepting that they would call you “nigger” to your face and not use euphemisms and code words.

Thanks To the Volunteers

Gail Moran and all the volunteers who worked the ride today deserve a great deal of credit for a job well done. This is a very small club. Yet it finds the time to take on a Herculean task like putting on an invitational ride and does so with as much professionalism as any we do all year.

Thanks and God Bless!

Distance: 30.3 miles
Time: 3h 09m 14s