Why, Where, and When I Ride My Bicycle

by Lucas Thompson

When and where did you first start riding? I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a bike and it wasn’t a significant part of my life. Growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, having a bike provided ways to explore the neighborhood and a convenient way to get to my friends’ houses.

How often do you ride now? I commute to work most days on my bike, a few miles each way, and go for longer rides most weekends. Building the riding into my normal daily routine is a great way to get some exercise without having to carve out big blocks of time.

Where do you like to ride? I like to ride anywhere that I can explore and see new things. You get to experience a place differently at the speeds accessible on a bike.

What bikes do you ride? The bike that gets ridden most frequently is a mid-1990s Raleigh mountain bike that has been converted to commuter duty with fenders, racks, and baskets. The bike that gets the most mileage is our road bike tandem that my wife and I ride most weekends. After that probably comes my modern mountain bike that I ride on the trails in Michaux. There are a few others too, including a gravel/road bike, a cruiser tandem for around town, and a vintage road bike that is currently in parts.

How long have you been riding and how has your riding changed over time? The biggest change in my riding occurred when I was in graduate school. I began viewing bicycles as a convenient and practical mode of transportation as opposed to just a tool for fun and exploring; it helped that it was faster than taking the bus and cheaper than paying to park my car. I’ve basically been commuting to work and to run quick errands by bike as often as possible, year-round, for the past 15 or so
years now.

What interesting bicycle adventures have you had? There is something special about a late-night summer ride – it’s peaceful with next to no traffic, the heat from the day is gone, and the sky is full of stars – that I just love. It can make a ride you have done countless times feel new and exciting. My wife and I have also taken camping trips on our bikes, and designed and completed our own scenic century ride on the northern end of the Door County, WI peninsula. The route was built to spend as much time alongside of Green Bay and Lake Michigan as possible. We got to ride through two state parks and a county park along the way
and passed one historic lighthouse.

What tips do you have for other cyclists? If you are going to use your bike for more utilitarian purposes, fenders make such a
huge difference in keeping you and your bike clean.

What changes would you like to see to improve bicycling in Adams County? The normalization of using bikes for short trips and errands.

Lucas Thompson moved to Gettysburg in 2011 after living in the flatlands of central Illinois for graduate school. He is grateful for the topography, trees, and fresh fruit of Adams County.