"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Surviving those bicycle years

By on June 26, 2021 in Columnist with 0 Comments
Mike Cassidy

By Mike Cassidy


Some issues of The Good Life turn into theme issues without us even thinking about it.

We didn’t expect to have two fun bicycle stories in this issue — but we do.

Writer Linda Reid stumbled across the tandem bike story when she went to interview Michelle and Chuck Carey for Linda’s story of “Moving Here” that was in last month’s issue.

And sure, while their Moving Here story was interesting, when Linda  discovered the Careys were world-roaming tandem bike riders, her reporter sense said the bike story deserved its own feature.

Next, WenatcheeOutdoors guru Sarah Shaffer suggested Ray Birks’ bikepacking article for his trip along the west side of the Columbia River from the area past the Alcoa plant to Vantage.

Ray and his friend’s pedal among the rocks on the deserted hills were the yin to the Carey’s rides along roads, but both brought new sights and adventures. 

And finally, I stumbled across a childhood friend of mine on Facebook (proving that FB is not all funny cat videos and political rants) who wrote about Surviving Those Bicycle Years, the title I borrowed for this column.

My friend’s name is Wayne Wallace, who still lives in our hometown of Napavine, which is  30 miles south of Olympia.

Wayne remembers a time when we and our friends were kids — and when you’re a kid on a bike, you have the scrapes and bruises of crashes to prove it.

Here is a bit of what Wayne recalled from those banged-up rides:

I haven’t crashed a bike for years. Probably because I don’t ride a bike any more…

I crashed and had to dig rocks out of my hand a few times. In the alley by the post office once. A second time down the Haywire Road. 

We rode the bikes down that road a lot to go fishing. There used to be a great big old buck with his horns in velvet in the spring in Bars Field on many clear crisp mornings. 

He would watch us go by and shake his head saying, “How long till the little guys are digging rocks out of their hands this time? Two on a bike going down hill on a gravel road. Amazing, but not too bright.” 

He was really a beauty. The biggest buck in the country and maybe the biggest I ever saw. We saw him pretty often for a couple of years. We saw him because we were riding down the road at 7 a.m. to catch some fat native cutthroat in the creek…

The time I wrecked on Davis’ Hill (on the Haywire Road), my legs were tangled up in the bike and I was sliding down hill on my hands to keep my face out of the gravel. I was going pretty fast and it seemed to take forever to come to a stop. I probably said, “Ouch.” I was 14 at the time.

When I think about bicycling in my youth  — and then return to the same roads today — I’m surprised how the hills have flattened out so much!

Keep pedaling, there are always new vistas to see. Enjoy The Good Life.

— Mike

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