Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

She joined the local bicycle club in the 1...

She joined the local bicycle club in the 1970s because her teenage son wanted to go on our 100 mile ride. She got a membership card for Johnny and asked, “Is there a club for people our age?” I was flattered because I’m much older. I told her that Booneslick Bicycle Club was for all ages and that the up-coming “century” ride would include a youngster about 12, a blind man riding on the back of his family’s tandem, lots of teenage riders like her son -- and older riders almost 60 -- I including me. We soon became good friends.

June and John Thaden met me for a training ride and, as soon as I described the route, John took off like a flash. I bit my tongue to keep from telling June that her bike was a heavy old clunker. It was a three-speed with fenders, kick stand and two big wire baskets. She was no newcomer to bicycling, but she had needed those baskets more than she needed lightweight equipment like Johnny’s.

We started at a slow pace and I soon discovered that she maneuvered that heavy thing quite well. We rode together three more times that week.

On the morning of the 100-mile ride, June brought Johnny to Eastgate parking lot to join the group and get instructions for safety, for the route, etc. “I’ll ride out with you and then turn back,” she said. She did that, except that she didn’t turn back! At Fulton, she said, “I’ll go a little farther.” At Portland, she had a pain in her knee. We rested.

At Williamsburg, when I begged her to get in the “Sag Wagon” truck with Chub, she said, “The knee has limbered up a bit,” and kept going. Later she claimed that “Sue talked me through those last fifty miles!” The next day she went shopping for a bike like mine. That was just the beginning of June Thaden’s dedication to the sport of bicycling.

She was an outstanding leader in our Booneslick Bicycle Club and, when she moved to Traverse City, Mich., she helped start a club that is now one of the most active in the United States. A few years later she was Michigan’s bicyclist of the year. Now she’s the national president of the League of American Bicyclists.

Her recent letter explained that she retired from her position as a librarian in order to dedicate her efforts to the league, known as LAB. To finance their many services to the sport, LAB sponsors an annual “Pedal for Power” fund-raising tour from the West Coast to the East. This year’s ride will begin June 19 in Seattle and end Aug. 2 in Asbury Park, N.J., 48 days later. Why will the petite LAB president attempt such a grueling ride? Because she firmly believes, as I do, that “Bicycling can help heal a lot of America’s physical and social problems” and that this strong national organization is “the way to put our convictions into action.”

Want to go along? It’s a northern route that includes Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. That’s 3,453.3 miles of spinning those pedals around.

Can’t join the tour but wish to promote the idea of helping to solve physical and social ills? Send a check to: Pedal for Power, PO Box 2088, Westminster, Md., attention president June Thaden.

With my check, I sent June a postage stamp size mug shot to slip into her saddlebags. Maybe this will help “talk her through those last 50 miles.”

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