Ride Leaders Born or Bred?

Dale Campbell, Bent Fork Chronicles Co-Editor

John Pamperin recalled the following:
Bikes were a prized possession among the students at the two room school I attended for grades 1 through 8 in a dairy farming area just outside of Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Some of the "rich kids" had the new Schwinns with the horn on the fake gas tank below the top tube.  I did not have one of those.  What I did have was a special connection to Pamperin Park, a very special county park that still is used for weddings, Frisbee golf, etc.  The park was donated to the county by one of my ancestors.

During one summer when I was about 10, I decided to lead two of my younger sisters on a bike trip to Pamperin Park, a distance of about 6 miles. We prepared for the ride by pumping up our balloon tires to about 25 psi. Yes, it was only six miles, but the dreaded Birdens Hill stood in the way, with its elevation gain of at least 150 feet! But we made the trip there and back just fine, after a picnic lunch next to the Duck Creek.  What an amazing athletic feat!

Another contribution was submitted by Bob Smith, entitled “Rides Nearly Forgotten”:
At the September Club Meeting, Dale Campbell challenged everyone to write about the first time they led a bike ride. My initial thought was back to my first ride lead for the Great Dallas Bicyclist in early spring 1985 just prior to moving to Colorado Springs. I began to think Dale’s question was probably deeper than that.

I grew up in hilly southwestern Pennsylvania and didn’t learn to ride a bicycle until my 6th Christmas when I got a 24” Olsen balloon tire single speed coaster bike. I learned to ride it that very day. The bicycle was new found freedom even in hilly terrain. By the time I was 9 or 10. I was leading friends on rides to the neighboring Boroughs of Liberty and Glassport. We’d ride to get penny candies or popsicles at a store outside of Port Vue with money we had earned from Kool-Aid Stands. These rides were typically about 5 or 6 miles but challenging on a heavy single speed.

Thank you Dale for stirring up memories of rides nearly forgotten.

And, then there’s my own (Dale Campbell) story, the one that led me to challenge the Club to recall their first ride as a leader:

While a Boy Scout I my pre-teen years, I was a Patrol Leader in Troup 16 at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Puerto Rico.  As patrol leaders of a small subset of Scouts, the Troop Leaders were constantly challenging us to plan and accomplish new activities with our Patrols.  At the time, I seemed to have run out of new ideas of things to do.  Then one morning, while riding my bike to school (a downhill ride in the mornings, with the uphill reserved for the afternoon ride home), I happened to think “Bike ride and snacks – that might be a good idea.”  Well, with a little planning, I soon had the ride scheduled for the following weekend.

Five of us gathered at my house on a Saturday morning, sack lunches and drinks tied to our bikes and off we went.  At the time I had a 24” J.C. Higgins “Paperboy Special” bicycle.  I led the group out of the base housing area, along the industrial waterfront towards the beaches near the Enlisted and Chief’s Clubs and then on to a family picnic pavilion called the “Teahouse of the August Moon” (curious? – do an internet search on this name).  After a refreshment break and rest, we proceeded to start back towards the Housing Area via another route.  We didn’t encounter any issues along the way and arrived back home early afternoon.  If I were to guess, I suspect we rode a total of 10 to 12 miles, but at that time, it seemed like an epic journey.  I know that we all enjoyed the ride and I seem to recall that the ride also brought a certain sense of freedom – like I didn’t need to rely on my parents or base transportation to get to somewhere I wanted to go.  Thinking back now, I know that this one ride definitely laid a foundation for the enjoyment I get from group rides today!

After reading these three recounts of the first experience as a ride leader, are you now also recalling your first experience at the head of a group of cyclists?  If so, please send me your thoughts about that ride.  I’ll continue to gather these stories and publish another summary in an upcoming newsletter.  In the mean time, get out there and lead a ride soon!  You’ll enjoy the experience!
BFC Fall 2012 - Vol 5 Issue 4, 1 October 2012

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