HOOKED: I biked to deliver newspapers, and then I discovered a bike shop in Philadelphia that had exotic 10-speed bikes. I couldn't afford one, so I bought a three-speed and found out about a local club. It was mostly older people, but I started riding with them. I ordered my own 10-speed in 1960, and I just really never stopped.
"GET A LICENSE!": People thought we were crazy in the '60s because adults didn't ride. We were always getting yelled at from cars, and people would throw cups of ice at you. Biking for adults wasn't very common.
SKIING BY WINTER: I commuted [by bike] for 26 years, weather permitting. We didn't have studded tires or mountain bikes then; it was dicey. The streets were icy, and I never really liked it. I don't mind hanging it up in winter now. ... I discovered cross-country skiing, and this year I did over 1,000 kilometers of skiing.
FLAT TIRE? WRITE IT DOWN: I know how far I've gone on every bike -- I keep logbooks. If I change a tire, I make a note. I have tires that have gone 7,000 miles -- 13,000 in one case -- and pedals that have gone 60,000. A typical week of biking in the summertime would be about 350 miles. I belong to almost all the local clubs, and sometimes I ride with them, but mostly I'm [on my own].
TENT FOR TWO: My son was 11 when he did the Canadian Rockies the first time. In 2009, when he was 39, we did it again. [On big trips] I carry a tent and six days of clothes, tools, books, sleeping bag and pad. I don't cook. On a couple of trips I've carried camping gear along and never used it. Even in Alaska we've found places to stay. When I'm camping I put my bike in the tent. That way it's out of sight, out of the weather, and it keeps me company.
ON THE ROAD: Newfoundland is on my radar for this year. I'd also like to do Iceland ... or New Zealand again, or maybe Europe.
SHEILA MULROONEY ELDRED
Special to the Star Tribune