Course it wasn’t known as MIT (Mennonites In Tights) that day but it was the first of many Saturday group rides that started May 17th, 2003. In the fall of 2002 I was helping
a friend (Don) cleanup his workshop in preparation to move out of province. Hanging in the rafters was this 1970’s era Nishiki roadbike. He pointed to the bike and told me the story of a Mennonite from Kansas who rode that bike from Newton, Kansas to Winnipeg, Manitoba to attend school. Upon arriving in Manitoba he offered to give
the bike to anyone willing to commit to riding that bike a minimum of 100 miles the first year. So my friend, Don, ended up with a bike. He rode the bike many places and years later it collected dust in his workshop.
Don looked at me, pointed to the bike and offered it to me on one condition; I ride a minimum of 100 miles that year. It was mid-September and thinking of my right knee with the torn ACL from hockey, my ongoing battle with weight control. And just the thought of going back to my childhood days of riding a bike I agreed to the 100 miles.
Turns out I didn’t ride 100 miles that fall but closer to 400 miles as it became an instant passion. Feeling the wind in my face, the power in my legs as it moved the bike,
the speed and the complete feeling of freedom, all where intoxicating.
The spring of 2003 brought new adventures as I expanded my 11 km loop to 14 km’s. The loop had fast straights, tight corners and some gravel. It was the year that Sue & Rudy Nikkel, people whom I grew up with, decided they would ride bike across Canada. In church one Sunday we talked about riding bike together and decided on
the next Saturday morning. We agreed to meet at the water tower and ride to Hwy 52 to La Broquerie and back, about 25 km’s. It was to be my longest ride up to that point
in the year.
The picture is taken at the cow in La Broquerie where we were to turn around and head back to Steinbach. After a short break and a picture, Rudy convinced me to extend the ride to Giroux, just a couple of km’s further down the road. We ended up riding the route back to Steinbach riding a total of 40 km’s. A huge ride for me, but I was truly hooked.
Take a good look the picture. Rudy and Sue decked out in cycling gear. Me? Complete with my 274 lbs, the coolest wool-fold-back finger gloves, sweatpants, Nike runners, old winter jacket with the stuffing ripped out, and a Canadian Tire helmet.
The Nishiki bike all decked out with fenders, flat pedals, shifters on the stem, foamy grips, brake levers that curved into the middle and a gel seat cover. Missing water bottles, pump, spare tube, food, sunglasses and Chamois Butt’er.
Now 30,000 km’s later the bike has been donated to MCC with a label that stated “To the buyer of this bike, MUST commit to riding 100 miles each year.” The flats and Nike’s are now Speed Play pedals and Shimano shoes. The sweatpants have given way to spandex. Gloves and jacket went with the bike to MCC. And the 275 lbs? While I have left 40 of them elsewhere on the road, they are never far behind often catching me each snow season.
It was the first of many rides that spring and summer cycling season. Later that spring along came Curt, Ron, Virlon and others and just like we still do; meet each Saturday morning at the water tower ‘just to ride a bike’.