My Father, My Hero on Two Wheels

17 Jun

Last night I called my dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day. He’s a big talker in person, but on the phone? Not so much. But this time he had a very important question: his bike saddle isn’t comfortable anymore, what kind do I recommend? I don’t think he was satisfied with my answer, which was to take the bike in to his local shop, show them his current saddle and how he sits on it and ask for a recommendation. Some bike expert I am.

But who am I to say what’s best for an 82 year old man on a 20 year old mountain bike?

Dad on Bike

In the tradition of Father’s Day stories, I could write about what a great dad he was growing up: how he pushed me to stretch my limits by bribing me to jump off the diving board with popsicles, and by slowly backing up as I anxiously swam into his open arms. I’m sure that helped make me who I am today and certainly came in handy the day I swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco. And I didn’t even get a popsicle that time.

But it’s what he does today that fills me with pride. Like how every time I go back to Louisiana he wants to go for a bike ride, whether it’s the heat of summer or chill of winter. Next time I visit he wants me to take him to a mountain bike park he read about in the newspaper. Apparently someone at church said it has easy trails.

While Dad rocks the pasture trail, I’m not so sure about the roots, ruts and mud found on dirt trails back home, much less the snakes, gators and biting insects. Not that Dad was ever afraid of wildlife. He’s no city slicker.

Dad on Grass Summer

They say a girl chooses a husband who is the same kind of man as her father. If I look at my husband Dick, the resemblance is not immediate. Where my Dad is quick to act and impatient, Dick thinks before he acts and is methodical. What they have in common is their teasing sense of humor and their zest for an active life. And the way they both treat me with love and respect. That’s the most important lesson from my dad: that I deserve it.

They also share a love for riding with their daughters. Dick’s daughter Jana prefers running to bicycling, but she invited Dick out for a ride in Golden Gate Park last week. It had been years since they’d ridden together, but the smiles were still the same, even after 12 windy and somewhat hilly miles. Some things you never outgrow.

Dick & Jana

Jana was on the East Coast for wedding on Father’s Day, so Dick and I went out for a trail ride at a park that’s popular with families. That meant lots of “Happy Father’s Day!” greetings for all the dads out riding with their children of all ages, from toddlers to adults. Seeing a son in full mountain bike gear with his seventy-something dad toodling down the fire road made me miss my dad, and wonder where we’ll ride together next time.

Do you still bike with your dad? If so, what’s your favorite place to ride together? If not, where would you take him if you could?

P.S. To my bike expert friends: does anyone have a saddle suggestion for my dad? As you can see in the pictures, he tends to sit forward on his saddle, which is on the wide side. Would narrower be better?

Dad & Dick Race


Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Family Rides


15 responses to “My Father, My Hero on Two Wheels

  1. Elle

    June 17, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    What about the Easy Seat: Will he tell you what part of it is uncomfortable? I think that could help narrow down the seat choices.

    Probably raising the handlebars would help, too.

    • ladyfleur

      June 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      I’ll have to probe him for more details, especially after he gets back from my sister’s beach house where he’ll be riding a different bike that may have a saddle he likes better. I do think part of his issue is that the handlebars are too low/frame too small for him.

      • frank8265

        June 18, 2013 at 10:39 am

        Butterfly bars would give him a wider reach. I guess it’s not an ahead stem?

  2. Carol

    June 17, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Dad didn’t mention the bike seat last night, but he did talk to Caroline (who is competing in summer swim league now) about how he learned to swim in the flooded rice fields outside Ville Platte as a child. After they mastered that easy swim, they went to Bayou Chicot which had all the heavy duty hazards. He has mentioned the mountain bike trail to me too, but I think we can think of a better solution when you come.

    • ladyfleur

      June 17, 2013 at 6:14 pm

      I never heard about swimming in the rice fields, but I do remember him saying he learned to swim in Bayou Chicot. Given that I wouldn’t even put my hand over the edge of the fishing boat in that scary swamp, I was horrified at the thought.

  3. Tian

    June 17, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Definitely the bike he’s riding looks too small. I had to try several types of seats before I found one I like. My recommendation is the Serfas brand. Those usually work out well for me!

  4. Psy

    June 17, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    My dad, who rides a bike that looks just like your dad’s and is close in age uses a Serfas saddle, though I can’t remember the model right now. It’s a bit wider and comfy, and he loves it. I’d like to say he found it at REI.

    I love riding with my dad! I ride with him every time I go home…I actually built a bike to leave at my parents’ house so that he wouldn’t guilt trip me when I didn’t have a bike to ride with him. Yesterday he took me on his favorite trail with some rolling hills (in the 95 degree weather) and we had a blast!

    • ladyfleur

      June 17, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      I steal my Mom’s bike which is part of why I ride with Dad more than her. But she does still ride occasionally too. She’s also 82, but her balance isn’t as good as Dad’s.

      Where does your dad live that it’s 95 degrees?

      • Psy

        June 19, 2013 at 2:18 pm

        Sacramento, California – they get stretches of 110+, but without the humidity (thankfully).

  5. savvybikes

    June 17, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I could give you bike fit + saddle recommendations, but that’s a long conversation and I see some other things (besides the saddle) that could change, too. Instead, I just want to say thank you. I’ve been without a father for 15 fathers days now. While I read about your father, I thought “wow, my dad never rode a bike.” And then I remembered riding my bike with my dad during his one week of vacation every summer. We would go hit tennis balls. He died just months before I moved to California and before I started riding again.

  6. Carol

    June 18, 2013 at 6:20 am

    Bikes were our dad’s and his brothers’ primary form of transportation in their childhood small town. He used it for his daily paper route and in fact he was working his route when he first heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was 11 years old at that time.

  7. frank8265

    June 18, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Not that I consider myself an expert, but I too tend to sit on the front of my saddle which gave some discomfort. Last year I bought a Brooks Flyer S saddle (yes, a so called “lady” saddle) and for me it works perfectly. Bit shorter, bit wider and sits like a dream. And also no more numb feeling down the equator. 😉

  8. Martin

    June 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I agree — the bike looks to small. Your dad’s knees practically bump against the handle bars. Could you persuade him to try one with a larger frame? (The saddle may not be the issue.)

  9. disgruntled

    June 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Oh. For years I rode my Dad’s old bike, but he’s too ill to cycle now. I do ride with my Mum when we get a chance and she can get away from caring for my Dad.

    Enjoy the fact that he’s still active and I hope he finds a saddle that suits.

  10. PedalCat

    June 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    We ride in 115+ here in sunny Tempe AZ! My father doesn’t ride at all anymore; however, I have heard stories of his adventures! Albeit short, but adventures none the less!
    I’m glad your father still enjoys a trip on the bike 🙂


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