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OPINION: Who is that fat guy on a bicycle?

by Randy Moll | September 20, 2022 at 6:10 a.m.

"Who is that fat guy on a bicycle?"

If anyone wonders who that old and overweight (OK, fat) guy is riding a bicycle to and from school, with his grandson riding a bike out in the lead, it's probably me. At least I haven't seen anyone else on a bicycle accompanying a grandson to and from school each day.

And, the trip's been somewhat of an adventure.

First and foremost, there's the time and traffic issue. Living near the schools on Pioneer Lane, driving a car is a challenge. Even getting out of my driveway in the mornings and afternoons is a challenge. And then, cars and trucks are often parked on the street and lined up waiting to drop off and pick up their kids.

We could walk to the intermediate school -- and we started out walking -- and still make better time than driving and sitting in line, but I found walking twice as far as my 8-year-old grandson each day was uncomfortable at best and painful on other days due to nerve damage in my feet. I suggested we ride bikes, and my grandson was all for it. I wasn't so sure but figured we'd give it a try.

I got out my old beach cruiser (a one-speed), aired up the tires, and we were off. No, I couldn't keep up with my bike-riding grandson at first, but we made it. After a reminder from the school principal that we should both be wearing bike helmets, I made sure my grandson always wore his every day and ordered one for a guy with a fat head. Even though I rode a bicycle miles and miles in my younger years, this was the first bike helmet I've ever owned. Of course, in my younger years, we didn't have seat belts in our cars and kids rode standing up in the front seat or sleeping in the back window.

It didn't take but a trip or two to discover that whoever assembled the bicycle I rode, which I bought from the big-box store to the south several years ago, wasn't what I would call an expert. The chain was loose, the handlebars weren't tight, and screws were missing. To avoid a catastrophic failure and injury to both body and ego, I adjusted the chain and tightened the handlebars and other nuts and bolts which held on insignificant parts like the wheels.

And still, after a month of riding, I finally took off the fenders when I found that the rattling and occasional scraping were caused by the fact that a bracket was not attached to the frame properly and some machine screws were missing. Finally, it cruises more like a beach cruiser should.

I did, after a couple of weeks of riding, order a multi-speed mountain bike from what used to be a very reputable bicycle manufacturing company -- at least the bicycles made 50 years ago were good-quality 10-speeds. This one had 21 speeds. I'm not sure why I would need 21 speeds -- the most I ever had in a big truck driving through the Rocky Mountains was 15 -- but 21 seemed to be what was offered.

Well, that 21-speed was not made in the USA but in China, and the quality was surely not what I had expected. It came from the factory partially assembled, but it took a whole list of types and sizes of wrenches to finish the job. The back wheel came already mounted on the frame, and the tube had been pinched between the tire and the rim and partially inflated. I fixed the problem and thought the thin tube might still be OK, but a blowout about 100 yards from my house proved otherwise. It has a good, heavy-duty tube in that tire now and I have another to replace the front tube one of these days.

Riding the 21-speed didn't prove all that comfortable and, one way or another, it still takes the same amount of energy to get from Point A to Point B. Anyway, I seem to like the big one-speed better for our school trips. It certainly works better for carrying my grandson's backpack on the handlebars than the 21-speed.

We'll see what happens. I may get used to the cool bike with all the extra features. If not, my grandson has already staked a claim on it as soon as he gets tall enough to ride it. He figures it will be in a couple of months, but I'm guessing it may be a couple of years.

In addition to the time savings each day, there are other pluses for an old and overweight grandpa. It gives me a little time away

from the computer every day, which is good. It also gives me a little exercise -- something I wasn't getting before and very much needed. It may help me shed a few pounds, and it might even make riding the 21-speed more comfortable. But, most of all, it's an adventure I get to share with a grandson and, hopefully, something he'll always remember.

What will happen when it gets cooler and cold? I don't know for sure. I prefer cold to hot and hope we can keep riding, but my grandson said he was cold on the one cool morning we had last week. Perhaps with the right gloves and jacket ...

Randy Moll is the managing editor of the Westside Eagle Observer. He may be contacted by email at [email protected] Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Print Headline: Who is that fat guy on a bicycle?

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