By Lou Melini
For a number of years I have been making a bucket list of bike tours and some backpacking trips for the time after my retirement. Juggling when I retire for financial security for my family, yet being young and healthy enough for my planned excursions that will last upwards of 6 months has not been easy. I’ve lost some sleep over the decision. Who knows what “financial security” means and who knows what will become of my current relatively good health. I have many good days but there have been more than a few with muscle aches, stiffness and fatigue. My ability to retire is aided by my wife Julie, who is younger than I. She will continue to work for a couple of years until 2016 when we hike the Appalachian Trail. Health insurance is an issue. I will be on Medicare in 2016. Julie will need to buy insurance in 2016 until she receives retired military benefits and insurance when she turns 60 in 2018.
This month, on June 20th at the young age of 63, I will be officially retired. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I no longer have a daily excuse to ride my bike. There were days during the past 35 years that I have lived in Salt Lake City that riding to work was less than pleasant. I will no longer need to leave in sub 10° temperatures or ride home in darkness and a howling snowstorm. In the past 2 years riding in miserable conditions has especially become less appealing. There was a time that I considered riding in bad weather as a means to condition me for adverse weather during bike tours or for cyclocross racing. I have no regrets to cycling in bad weather but I no longer do I care to have foul weather “conditioning”. Now I can choose to ride to work when the weather is beautiful, and keep on riding.
This month is also the 10th anniversary of the commuter column. Ashley Patterson, who has been helping me with the commuter column profiles for Cycling Utah over the past 2 years, was the first bike commuter profiled in my column in July of 2004. The column, to my knowledge, is the longest running column devoted to bike commuting in any U.S. bicycle journal in the past 50 years. The purpose of the column is to inspire others that using a bike for commuting is not difficult. I have profiled people who ride once a week during good weather to the “supercommuters” that ride all the time. From the feedback that I have received, the column has been well-read and achieved its purpose. I will no longer be commuting to work so I would like to turn the column over to someone else, or at the very least recruit one more person that is willing to submit 2 or 3 columns/year. Contact me ([email protected]) or editor Dave ([email protected]) if you are interested.
Over the next several years my focus will be to also inspire others that overnight travel by bike is also not very difficult. A similar column running 2 or 3 times a year will feature people that travel on their bike. This column will be an addition to or substitution for the bike commuter column in Cycling Utah. In retirement I will have more time to do some self-supported bike tours. In less than 48 hours after my retirement I will be joining a group for a 5-day, 270-mile tour through Yellowstone National Park. In September, my cyclocross buddy Dennis McCormick and I will be riding the new 515+mile Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike trail recently published in a map form by the Adventure Cycling Association. Julie and I have a 2-week backpack trip planned for August. In 2015 I have a 40-year reunion ride across the U.S. with my friend Jeff from New Jersey. Jeff and I did a cross-country ride in 1975 together. Winter season is reserved for my grandson. Retirement will be good.