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Aug 20, 2012
03:44 PM

The Summer a Boy on His Bike Logged 600 Miles

When he was a kid, this southeast Michigan guy loved his bike – and still recalls hitting a big milestone on it while on vacation camping with his family

The Summer a Boy on His Bike Logged 600 Miles

My 20-inch dark orange-colored bike with a metallic gold banana seat was one of my most prized childhood possessions. I rode that bike everywhere – even if only to a neighbor's house two doors down. I don't recall when Dad equipped my bike with a speedometer, but I was hooked on keeping track of my mileage from that point on. Not only would I determine how far to the right I could get that bright orange needle on the square face of the speedometer, but I'd also ride and ride until the odometer rolled to a nice round number. Then I'd set my sights on the next round number I longed to reach.

In the summer of 1974, we went on a camping trip, my bike in tow. I can't recall the exact mileage at that point, but I knew it was nearing that nice, round number of 600 miles. I began riding my bike through the campground and reporting back the odometer reading to my family, though they were not terribly interested in my real-time updates. When my odometer neared 600, I couldn't do anything else but ride, ride, ride. Back in the saddle I went, wanting desperately to reach 600 miles. Through the campground, to the campground store, back to the campsite, to the bathroom, to the park registration office, to the bathroom again, for good measure. Anything to inch closer to that magical mark.

And when I finally reached my goal one lazy summer afternoon in an Indiana campground, I jumped off my bike at our campsite, ran over to the picnic table and shouted, "I reached 600 miles! I reached 600 miles!"

Once verified by skeptical eyes, an impromptu party ensued for this monumental occasion: Mom made me a triangular hat from that day's newspaper. She fashioned a beach towel into a cape and secured it loosely around my neck with a clothespin, and everyone in my family grabbed pots and pans and banged them with wooden spoons at our campsite. Dad, our erstwhile family cameraman, was live on the scene to take 8-mm footage. He also took a photo of me next to my bike as I beamed with pride.

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