Why, Where, and When I Ride My Bicycle

by Scott Hancock

When and where did you first start riding?  Okinawa, in 1968 or 1969. I was an Army brat.  

How often do you ride now? Just about every day, except when the weather is a combination of below 40 degrees + winds over 5 mph because I hate being cold. 

Why do you like to ride? I’m not actually a committed cyclist. I ride for three reasons, which dictate where I go. First, because it is practical: it’s faster to get around town than walking and often almost as fast as driving once you factor in finding a place to park. I usually commute via bike from home to work (Gettysburg College). Second, for exercise—it’s way more fun to go fast on the battlefield than it is to run (plus easier on my body, and easier to enjoy the scenery.) Lastly, I started as a very novice mountain biker last spring, so once per week, weather permitting, I head into Michaux State Forest. 

What bikes do you ride? I have a Trek hybrid that I got at Gettysburg Bike shop about 15 years ago, and last spring I got a Trek mountain bike there, too. Not enough of an aficionado to know exactly what kinds they are, other than the kind that work. 

How long have you been riding and how has your riding changed over time?  I’ve been riding for over 50 years. First bike was a red banana seat chopper-style with a high sissy bar on the back in the early 1970s that my brother and I could both ride at the same time for fun, or, as one of few Black kids in the neighborhood, to escape the older bullies when we were living in Dundalk down in Baltimore. The first bike with gears I had was a 10-speed red Peugeot in Heidelberg, West Germany in the mid 1970s, that I rode to soccer practice and school—so an early form of commuting. The only things that have changed is I don’t ride to escape being beat up anymore and have added some very beginner-level mountain biking. 

What interesting bicycle adventures have you had?  Other than riding up the mountain just west of Dayton, Tennessee for the fun of flying down it at 50+ mph for fun, without a helmet, when I was in college (not something I’d do now), can’t say I’ve had any particularly interesting adventures.

What tips do you have for other cyclists? I’ve never spent $1000 or more on a bike, and probably never will. However, after years of buying cheaper bikes (like $100 or less) and constantly having them break down, we figured it was worth saving money and shelling out a few hundred for a bike that I could use daily and would last at least 10 years without needing constant repair. Spending that on bikes at a local shop that you trust, which in our case meant Gettysburg Bike Shop, has been worth it. 

What changes would you like to see to improve bicycling in Adams County?  Not sure what the cause & effect relationship is, but if more bike paths encourage more people, especially kids, to bike, then I think they’d be worth it.

Scott Hancock came to Gettysburg in 2001. He teaches at Gettysburg College, which provides him enough flexibility to spend time at his real job, coaching soccer with Gettysburg High School and club players.