Open road cycling for people past 70

First in a series on bicycling my way through 2014

On the River Road South of Corvallis, Oregon

On the River Road South of Corvallis, Oregon

“Your cycling journals are different!” This was Susan Notorangelo’s response to my 20-page essay on a week’s ride with PAC Tour, the travel company that she and her husband Lon Haldeman have conducted for about 30 years. I’m not sure what she meant, but think that she was surprised by the way description, historical background, and personal interpretation are intertwined in my travel narratives.

During the 40 years of my aggressive adult cycling, I’ve written 15 to 20 of these accounts, some only a few pages in length and others as long as 40 pages. Two of them describe the solo cross country trip that I did in the spring before I turned 70, and several describe rides that I’ve done with PAC Tour, including the 1,100 mile Albuquerque—Grand Canyon and Return ride in 2010.

At the beginning of 2014, one of my writing goals was to revise 8 to 10 of these later travel narratives and meld them into a book with the working title Open Road Cycling for People Past 70.

During the early months of 2014 I was in the final stages of completing a book on religion in America (published in November; click here for more information). As soon as that manuscript was approved by the publisher, I began serious work on the cycling book. At the same time, my wife’s 8 years of living with cancer entered a new phase that imposed a different plan for the second half of the year. For several months the bicycling book has languished, but early in 2015 I plan to resume my work on this project.

In its current form, the book has an Introduction and 9 chapters: Dry Lands on the Southern Tour, Wet Lands on the Southern Tour, *Bicycling through Time on the Wilderness Road, Columbia Gorge Explorers, Reengineering the Engineered World, *Bicycling Along George Washington’s Rivers, *Sky Island Soliloquy, *Traveling through the Open Windows of Time, and Learning to Ride at a Gentler Pace. An appendix contains my counsel about bikes, equipment, and cycling strategies for cyclists in their 70s and 80s.

Earlier versions of the above titles marked with * are posted on the Bicycle Diaries page of this blog.

The last two or three chapters need more work in order for this first phase of editing to be completed. Then will come a second editorial phase which will help determine whether these chapters can be melded into a book with a coherent thesis that ties them together or if they remain a set of individual travel narratives.

I intend to write the first draft of a publishing proposal by mid February when I am registered for week one of PAC Tour’s Desert Training Camp 2015. There are 27 registered riders, plus a crew of 9, and we’ll be cycling 50 to 60 miles a day on a tour of historic hotels in southern Arizona.

The proposal, which will consist of 100-word summaries of the book’s thesis and each of the chapters, will serve as (1) a guide for revising the manuscript; (2) a way of soliciting evaluations and suggestions from representative cyclists in target audiences, especially from my PAC Tour companions, and (3) the first step in looking for editorial counsel and a publisher.

In all probability, I’ll post the revised proposal on this blog so that a wider circle of readers can comment on the shape the book is taking.

Happy cycling in 2015.

4 Responses to Open road cycling for people past 70

  1. Jean says:

    Best wishes on the cycling travelogue book!

  2. Jean says:

    Interesting that you describe yourself as an aggressive cyclist. would suggest more an avid cyclist..if you want more older cyclists to keep on cycling. Many of us do cycle hard and long distances but suggesting we’re aggressive, gives not the greatest message to the world to get more people on bikes.

    My partner is a long time cyclist. He’s 72 yrs. We’ve lived a car-free life for the past 24 yrs.

    • I chose the adjective aggressive when I started my blog four years ago and it has been interesting to note the responses that the word generates. I am in the process of thinking through a new adjective to take its place and will write about that process soon. Even if my attitude continued to be characterized as aggressive, my ability to perform no longer is consistent. Furthermore, there has always been a quieter side to my interest in cycling. “Open road” is a phrase I have been trying out; “contemplative” is another. I have never liked some of the frequently used adjectives such as “serious” or “avid.” Why? I don’t know. I’ll post a blog on this topic some time in the next two or three weeks and will be interested in your comments.

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