Written by Mona Will - November 2015
It was a mid-summer evening and the Rogue’s, numbering somewhere around, 8 were ready to ride. I happened to glance over to see a young man walking towards us pushing a flat bar mountain bike. He was tall, a bit lanky, dressed in a tee shirt and shorts, and wearing ordinary sneakers.
Jacob: I had wrapped up a very exciting and sometimes challenging semester at Conserve School, which is in Wisconsin. My experiences there opened up a new world for me. Before attending Conserve, I had never slept a night in a tent in the woods, had never built a campfire, never even slept on the ground. This school not only taught me about environmental stewardship but also how to use outdoor skills to survive and have a great time in the outdoors. While I was there I did cross country skiing, camping, and mountain biking. It was super awesome! I came back to Ft Wayne ready to use my outdoor experiences from school. I thought I’d do mountain biking but didn’t really know where to start.
My best friend since I’ve been really young is Andrew Zehr. His dad had done a north/south cross country bike ride and suggested that I check out the 3 Rivers Velo Sport website for rides. I went to Carroll High School and was going to ride with the group out of there. When I got there, I saw the group of guys and quickly realized that I wouldn’t be riding with them. I turned my bike around and started back to my car to pack up my bike and head home. I got as far as my car and this woman said to me “Did you come to ride with us?”
I quickly explained the distance we would be going and our anticipated speed. I said he was welcome to join us if he thought he could keep up. He hadn’t ridden with a group before so I made sure to keep him in the back of the pack with me so he could watch the others and I’d explain as we rode along.
Jacob: When this woman told me how far they would be riding and the speed I wasn’t worried. Though I hadn’t ridden in a group before, I had participated in organized school sports like cross country from the 6th-8th grade. I knew about pacing myself and I had the outdoor experiences from Conserve. I just got on my bike and followed the group.
It only took a few miles and the group was quickly gaining full ride pace of about 17mph. Everyone was taking turns pulling, the dual pace line was straight, and everyone was quick to point or shout out road hazards. By the time we reached Huntertown, I was wondering if this “kid” would be able to hold on for the rest of the ride. He was doing a great job hanging on up to this point, but we had a lot more miles to go. The group headed north out of Huntertown and then west on County Line Rd. If you’ve ridden that road you know it’s a great road for rollers, but for a newbie? Especially someone that is only 16, almost 17 years old, on a mountain bike with tennis shoes? I was sure he’d be dropped in a short amount of time, but not so. This young man was putting in 110% and staying with the pack the entire ride!
Jacob: We rode for quite a way; not sure exactly how far because I didn’t have a bike computer like everyone else did. I had a great time going up and down the hills. In fact, I’m pretty sure I could have gone faster. When we got back to the parking lot, Mona looked at me (she was sweating and red faced) and asked if I had had a good time. I smiled and said “yeah”.
For the following 6 weeks or so, every Tuesday night Jacob showed up to ride with all of us “old folks”. It didn’t take long (a few weeks) until he was pulling like everyone else. On more than one occasion, I had to remind him to slow down and share the pulls. One Tuesday night ride, Jacob arrived in Ft Wayne from an airline flight. Instead of staying home and recovering from jet lag, he was out riding with us because, “I wanted to”.
Jacob: I really enjoy cycling. My friend Andrew Zehr and I want to do something epic together and we’ve decided we’re going to do a cross country bike ride. We’re thinking maybe an east to west ride. Not sure exactly when-maybe some time when we’re in college.
As the summer progressed, Jacob showed up on some of the weekend touring rides with the C, B, and even the A groups. His longest single ride was about 60 miles and he was pretty happy with that until a fated September day.
We all know that September is Century month. The club had a 70’ish mile route that the C group was going to do. However, I and Jim Coffing had decided before the ride that we were going to add another 30 miles to turn it into a Century. We asked Russ Stephens and Jacob if they were game for the extra miles. Both wholeheartedly agreed which meant Jacob would be riding almost double the amount of miles he had ever ridden before; it would be on his flat bar mountain bike, still wearing regular athletic shoes, a riding jersey someone had gifted him and regular shorts (NO padding for 100 miles - yikes!) We finished the club ride, got in our respective cars, drove to Carroll High School and finished out the remaining 30 some miles. We beat the sunset and celebrated with a photo of the 4 of us together looking a bit haggard, well at least me looking haggard, but with smiles on all our faces.
Jacob showed many of us this season that it’s not the bike or the shoes that make the ride, it’s the spirit and determination of the cyclist. He reminded us all that you do the best you can with what you have without complaining.
It took just one person on the 3RVS Facebook page to suggest that if everyone pitched in a small amount of money we could help Jacob pursue his dream of racing by getting him a new bike. Within a matter of a few days, enough money had been collected for not only a new bike, but new shoes and pedals.
Jacob: Thank you to all that contributed for the bike and gear.
I found this quote that speaks not only of why and how most of us ride, but also how I have seen Jacob when he’s riding. This was written by H.G Wells in The Wheels of Chance: