Roop rides 61 miles…with a little help from a friend

Published 7:09 am Thursday, June 17, 2021

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Rick Roop rode 61 miles on his bicycle to celebrate his 61st birthday. – Photo submitted

Riding 61 miles on HWY 58 from Harrogate, Tennessee, to Jonesville, Virginia, can be quite taxing considering that the mileage equals my current birthday age. In addition to my age I was also competing against a rising thermometer and a rising sun that was beaming down upon my plastic helmet. Great sweat tears blocked my vision as I pedaled slowly, hampering my progress on the pavement toward my final destination.

Previously, the night before, I thought that I was strong and well-prepared. I selected a cushioned pair of shorts, plentiful water, a bag full of food, and many thoughtful prayers. Really, I thought that’s all I needed. Boy, was I wrong.

Things start happening at my age. Not youthful things. In this environment, I began to enjoy the discomfort of my age.

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Furthermore, I was now beginning to re-think my ridiculous decision to embark on such a strenuous trip. Should I turn back now or should I go ahead and complete the goal of riding a very nostalgic birthday ride? I could reap the rewards of my completed efforts then celebrate with family and friends, or stop short and receive a quietly positioned pat on my back in unified congratulations since you tried.
I selected the first rather than the latter since the words follow the light started ringing in my ears and a numbing sensation in my large toe felt rather weird. Consequently, at that time a rather familiar voice filled the air with words from my cycling buddy Ken Wilson as his head was pirouetting through the door of his automobile. He uttered the sweetest words that I would ever hear on the highway.

“How are you doing, and do you need some water, my friend?

I was immediately uplifted and inspired by his words and offer of angelic refreshments. I received his newly purchased orange stuff and finished my 61-mile birthday ride and proceeded with a celebratory lunch down at the Cumberland Gap.

The motto of this story is friends make the ride worth riding especially if you have my friend, Ken Wilson.