Yes it’s true – I travelled 350 miles by automobile to learn how to ride a bicycle. Don’t be fooled - it’s a serious course. Usually taught as 3, 3 hour sessions – we enjoyed just shy of 9 hours of bike related discussion, hands on drills and instruction.
But that’s not the point.
Anecdotal Point #1 – I sat in a room with 10-ish people who were generally considered “seasoned” cyclists. To many (all?) of them the instructor led discussion contrasting the difference between the myth of “as far to the right as possible” and the reality of “as far to the right as practicable” was at best not something they’d previously given much thought to.
Anecdotal Point #2 – one of my classmates described almost being struck by an automobile coming out of an alley. She was riding on the sidewalk. The instructor led discussion identifying proper lane position on the roadway as the safest place to be in that situation was – instructional.
Anecdotal Point #3 – the road test is tough. We did a group ride navigating the busiest roadways in Rapid City. Each roller leads the group through four turns. The group stops and the instructor offers constructive criticism of the leader’s performance. There’s something unique about watching a man’s bicycling being critiqued.
Side note – which weighs more, a pound of lead or a pound of cotton? Contrary to popular belief a 30,000 vehicle per day road is a 30,000 vehicle per day road anywhere in the nation. It’s true – I looked it up.The instructor was LAB Cycling Instructor Eric Bunch. He began by teaching these courses through a bike & pedestrian organization in Missouri. Recently he moved to Denver and volunteers hours to BikeDenver. His blog post about his visit to South Dakota is here.
I’ll be clear – I greatly admire the work Eric does.
The director of Dakota Bike Tours and the Director of Rapid City Parks are fellow conspirators in the fledgling South Dakota Bicycle Coalition.
As far as driving across the state – I didn’t go as a single occupant. The Family accompanied me.
While I sat in class they enjoyed such educational opportunities as throwing-up in the Keystone Taffy Shop garbage can. Crazy Horse Memorial was the highlight - which The Boy 11 was muchly excited for after reading about it in school last year.
We returned home Sunday by first viewing some of the beautiful Black Hills Needles. Sometimes I look at a rock formation and can totally see some object, more often than not it’s a face.
“…it would be something like the spirit college youths display in risking life, limb and official punishment in order to plant their class emblem in a higher or more unexpected place than it has ever been carried before…we look tolerantly on their scrambling, knowing that they will learn in time to differentiate between physical altitude and real accomplishment.”
We traversed the Badlands as well. I enjoyed a much greater appreciation of the geography than I have in previous visits. I was able to snap this photo while there.
The travesty of which is in the ease it was acquired. It really makes me wonder how many of Brandenburg’s photos are actually taken from the open window of an automobile.